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E3 07: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles

Even though every other Resident Evil lightgun game has been ill received, Umbrella Chronicles keeps getting a ton of positive press. We've certainly sung its praises a few times, but perhaps the most immersive part of the gameplay has only just now been experienced - playing the game with the Wii Zapper.

Using only the remote and Nunchuk was fine, but the locked-in feeling and perfect hand placement of the zapper make spraying hot lead at zombie heads all the more enticing. One hand is placed on the front grip, putting an index finger directly under the trigger, while the other hand is free to hit the C and Z buttons on the secured Nunchuk. Hitting Z and the trigger together tosses a grenade, while shaking the device reloads whichever gun you're using. Pistols have unlimited ammo and are almost useless, but shotguns and uzis get the job done with style.



The latest demo ran us through a burnt out Raccoon City. Zombies are in ample supply, though they certainly don't seem to be in any hurry. The plodding, shambling corpses are just as slow here as they are in the main games, a scenario that doesn't translate too well to intense shooting matches. If they get close, they'll lunge, but you've got all kinds of close-quarters countermeasure to push the baddies back. Background items can be shot and utilized to rack up the undead body count even more. Barrels explode, girders fall and windows shatter - all the basic gunplay stuff.

There was no boss encounter this time around (the big snake slithered its way into the graveyard during our last session), but the overall feel of the game is easy to ascertain. It's a little slow and at times feels dull, but the atmosphere is dead-on. We love seeing aspects of the RE world retold and in such an involving way, but man, you really do just shoot some slooooow zombies, turn again, shoot more snail-like bastards and then press on. There's every chance in the world that the entire game won't play like this, so the final word has yet to be determined. We're hoping for some fast-moving hunter or licker action, and considering that areas from RE 0, 2 and 3 are present, that's not an unreasonable possibility.

It's out November 13 (the day after Mario Galaxy), so we'll all know for sure then.

July 12, 2007

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