Even though we've handed countless zombies their rotting asses, there's still something oh so special about getting to ditch all other worries and focus entirely on filling those mindless goons with hot lead. Combine this blissful sensation with new takes on Resident Evil's storied history and you've got a game that people were lining up to play at Capcom's press conference - we were first in that line, and now we're gonna tell you everything you want to know about the on-rails shooter The Umbrella Chronicles.
First, yeah, it's on rails. You're not roaming around the RE universe freestyle. Instead you're on a locked-in path that takes you through a predetermined course packed with theme park-style chills and thrills. The Nunchuk's analog stick does allow for a bit of looking around, but it's no more than what you'd get if you were really in that situation. In other words, a little neck craning, nothing more. All the other controls you need to know are on the Wii Remote, so yeah, the 'Chuk is mostly dead weight.
Obviously, the remote is used for aiming. Popping caps in zombie chests will maybe make them lose a step or two, but not much else. Aiming for the head can sometimes result in instant head-poppage, but more often than not we had to keep firing away to keep the baddies at bay. The d-pad switches between available guns, of which we had a pistol (with unlimited ammo), an automatic and the absolutely crucial shotgun (we dubbed it "The Boss"). Blasts with the shotgun are so widespread and damaging that it's easily the most important weapon in the arsenal, seeing as most of the game involves close-quarter encounters. Extra ammo and RE-staple herbs can be found throughout the path and picked up with the A button.
If the plodding zombies do scrape their way to your soft flesh, they'll grab and bite you. Too many hits and you go down. One thing we noticed was that you can blast a zombie away up until they've actually nabbed you, so you can you shoot their head off, leaving only a teetering bottom jaw. But if they do get a hold of you, you've got to take the hit, even if you lay into them with everything you've got. And with zombies busting through doors, windows and the floor, you'll have to keep your wits on a razor's edge.
Zombies made up the majority of our enemies, but crows and undead dogs made the rounds as well. In fact, the classic scene from the original RE, where the first zombie mutt jumps through the window, is recreated here and serves to introduce the A button's secondary functionality - it's a lot like RE4 's action button. If a monster's getting too close, proper pressing will send your character (Chris and Jill in this case) into a defensive animation that kicks away your aggressor in third person. In the first level we played, there were no Leon-style suplexes or elbows, but there's always hope.
Speaking of the first level, it's full of old-school treats (holy cow, the first Resident Evil is old-school now) that should make longtime fans perk up with excitement. It begins inside the very same mansion, using visuals that look straight out of GameCube's remake, only now you can shoot paintings off the wall, break windows or bust out chandeliers. Finally, you can do something about the horrid wallpaper covering this damn place.