We’ve previewed The Darkside Chronicles in the past, and the gist of our coverage was that Darkside Chronicles needed some work, but it was looking like it would be a superior effort to the bestselling Umbrella Chronicles. I got the opportunity to play a brand new level as well as another one that has been floating around demos for much of the summer last week.You’ll want to check out our previous hands-on to get certain details, as this preview will be concerned mainly with the levels and where the game has progressed.

The latter was a Code Veronica level, with Claire Redfield and Steve Burnside doing the zombie killing on Rockfort Island, as Claire searches for her brother Chris in his pre-boulder punching days. The gameplay was similar to the Resident Evil 2 level demoed earlier this summer, though there was a lot less running from zombies given you were in a more secluded area than a city’s streets.

Here are the basics–the game is on rails, but this has a more cinematic feel to it than Umbrella Chronicles did. There’s a lot more looking around at your environment, a lot more going on in the way of dialogue–it feels much more like a standard first-person game at these times than an on-rails shooter. The shaky cam adds to this feeling, especially since the game doesn’t wait around for you to kill every bad guy in your path. If Umbrella Chronicles was like House of the Dead, then Darkside Chronicles is more like the recent Dead Space: Extraction.

Except for when it isn’t, and after exposure to EA’s latest “guided first-person experience”, Darkside Chronicles may have some catching up to do, at least on the gameplay side of things–the Resident Evil mythology and universe may carry the day as far as story goes, given how much deeper and longer the history is for this franchise. There isn’t much dialogue during the actual gameplay; for the most part, it comes during cutscenes, which affects the games flow. Whereas in Extraction it felt like you could be attacked at any time, from anywhere, because the game did not make distinctions between cutscenes and gameplay moments, the line seems to be drawn pretty thick in Darkside Chronicles–you have a good idea of when you will be attacked, even if you don’t know from where. That being said, what gameplay is here does work, though it’s to be seen if it will stand up to Extraction when we get a full copy of the game for review.

The Code Veronica level was enjoyable, but the highlight was the brand new locale, meant to fill in spaces in Resident Evil history. Those of you that played Resident Evil 4 are aware of the rivalry between Leon Kennedy and Jack Krauser–the history isn’t exactly clear or revealed during that game, but Darkside Chronicles looks to fill in some of those gaps. Krauser and Leon work together in South America in broad daylight, in an area that looks more than a little bit like the African lands that Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar traversed in Resident Evil 5. A Capcom representative even mentioned that developers from Resident Evil 5 were impressed with the way the Wii handled these scenes, and that they felt it meant the system could have handled Resident Evil 5. Mind you, that’s not a confirmation that it’s coming or anything, just an observation from an impressed developer.

This was visually impressive in a few ways–it was well-lit, and despite being essentially a ghost town, had that same feeling that it used to be vibrant, much like the African setting in RE5. On the other hand, without the shadows and darkness to conceal some graphical shortcomings, the stage’s rough edges showed up a bit more–of course, there’s still a few weeks left of development for this game, and this demo was originally from the Tokyo Game Show, meaning it could already be cleaned up.

One thing I could not get direct confirmation on was whether Darkside Chronicles would feature some of the level types that Umbrella Chronicles did, where you were able to play as series’ villain Albert Wesker. It would make sense to have them again, and a “no comment” is more of a positive than a “no”, so keep your fingers crossed.

As a fan of Resident Evil, I’m excited for The Darkside Chronicles. From the looks of things, I may not be as enamored with the gameplay as I was that of Dead Space: Extraction, but the Resident Evil backstory–including new sections created for this game that are meant to fill in the gaps–should do wonders to make this game a quality holiday title on the Wii regardless.

About The Author

Marc Normandin was gaming editor of Blast from 2008 to mid-2010. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @Marc_Normandin

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