It’s time to take on the Resident Evil “light gun” games! At least, the ones that got a U.S. release.
RESIDENT EVIL SURVIVOR
First there is Resident Evil Survivor, the game people love to hate from way back in the Playstation One days. Many despised that it wasn’t “canon.” Who fricking cares? It’s a zombie shooting game. And actually, there is a reference to one of the characters from the main storyline.
The bigger problem, at least for those of us in the U.S., is that light gun support for this light gun game was ditched for the U.S. release. Yep. You actually have to control the aiming cursor with your left thumbstick while holding the R1 button and pressing X to shoot. And that’s because you move your character with the left thumbstick when you’re not holding the R1 button. It’s a walk or shoot kind of situation. And don’t even dare touch that right thumbstick, because all it does is bring up the inventory menu. ARGH! There is no independent camera movement…although, the L1 button lets you do these random camera shifts left or right. No looking up or down unless you’re in aim mode. Not to mention, your character can only move forward and backward. There’s no left/right strafing, which means limited control when going around corners.
Those are the controls if you have to controllers set to analog mode. If you set it to digital mode, the left and right thumbsticks are null and void and the D-pad becomes the movement and aiming control. However, your character also doesn’t automatically run! You have to hold down the square button to run or else you walk really slow, which could easily double this game from a 2-hour experience to a 4-hour experience. And by the way, there are no typewriters or saves—you have to play all the way through or die trying. You do get a handful of continues, so it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.
Other than the crappy controls, this actually pretty classic Resident Evil stuff, revamped into first person mode. Graphically, it looks like a PS1 RE game, which makes it very nostalgic. Plus it has files, herb mixing, multiple guns to find, ammo pickups, slow door and ladder loading screens, keys to be found to open doors (but no puzzles to solve), and all our favorite enemies: Tyrant, plants, Hunters, Lickers, zombies, moths, spiders, dogs, and crows. There’s also annoying as fuck new enemies called Cleaners who shoot at you.
The game also provides plenty of jump scares! Unfortunately, some of also create huge disadvantages for the player. For instance, you walk in a room, find your health being knocked down, have no idea why…and then discover the impossibility that there’s actually a zombie BEHIND you even though in theory, you haven’t even stepped away from the door. Of course, the programmers also had to pull the bullshit stunt of having you come out of an animation and right into the fist of a Hunter or some other baddie. Fuckers.
Resident Evil Survivor can be played through multiple times. There are at least four or five points in the game that give you three different paths to take. And each path offers a completely unique experience. For instance, you might have a choice between going into a restaurant, library, or movie theater. You’ll fight different enemies (holy crap the double teaming giant alligators are awesome), encounter different characters, and get alternate storylines and cut scenes.
I so fricking wish this game had offered light gun support because it’s a lot of fun. I also wish Resident Evil: Gun Survivor 2 had been released for the PS2 in the U.S. You suck, Capcom.
RESIDENT EVIL: DEAD AIM
Dead Aim is everything Survivor wasn’t. PS2 graphics make all the difference, as does the Guncon 2 with the D-pad on back. But that also makes this a rather hard game to control at times.
The story takes place on a ship at sea and you play as two different characters throughout the game, neither of them a familiar face from other games. But this still feels like a Resident Evil game. There are items to pick up, files, ammo, various guns, health sprays, herbs, typewriters, save rooms, a sewer-esque level, and an inventory system that pauses the game when you jump into it. Awesome.
Dead Aim is essentially House of the Dead off the rails. Shooting zombies is uber fun and happens in traditional first person light gun mode. Being able to move where you want around the environments, which is all done in third person mode, feels like true old school Resident Evil. The transition is pretty seamless; pull the trigger to get into first person, press on the D-pad to get back into third person. The only time the transition sucks is during boss battles. You pretty much get your ass kicked because it feels like that smooth transition is thrown out the window on purpose by the damn game developers! You’re slow to get into shooting mode so you miss ideal opportunities to take shots, and you get out of first person so slowly when it’s time to run that the monsters wallop the hell out of you. The placement of the D-pad, which works as a thumb pad, is not the most comfortable experience either.
Zombies abound in tight quarters and I’m convinced that they are my biggest fear in real life. Any other critter in this game can attack me and I’m annoyed, but when these damn slow moving zombies suddenly lunge and grab me, I panic and chills run down my spine! There aren’t tons of other enemies. There are some Hunters, as well those damn frogs, which appear in dark areas and have this annoying as hell lighting streak coming out of their ass as they bounce around spastically. Big bees come into play at one point as well. Where are those frogs when you need them?
There are only a handful of bosses. Notable annoyances begin with one big lug that supposedly can’t see so you have to creep to stay away from him. I did that but he still pounded me into the ground. Then there’s a Tyrant you run away from the first time you see it (I was still clueless as to what you were supposed to do to stay away so I had to look it up online while playing), but later you have to fight this bitch with a special gun you get. I played the game on easy and had to use a Codebreaker for infinite health. This isn’t even a fight. It’s just you getting caught in a merciless loop of being slashed and K.O.ed.
And finally, the save rooms are basically a one time deal because the game constantly moves forward. You don’t really retrace your steps and the save rooms are basically located at the beginning of each new section. It’s pretty manageable—except that bitch boss battle, which comes right after the final save…and is followed immediately by two other boss battles, on a timer…Fuck you, Dead Aim. Love you, Codebreaker.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE UMBRELLA CHRONICLES
The Resident Evil light gun experience leaps over to the Wii. That is if you attach one of those gun shells onto your Wiimote. Otherwise you just use the Wiimote as your gun. And the control isn’t so bad. For starters, it’s back to arcade-style rail shooting, so you don’t have control of your character, which means passing by great treasures if you don’t shoot them in time. How fricking frustrating is it knowing there’s a healing herb right next to your left foot but you can’t fucking turn and grab it?
The D-pad does give you slight control of the camera angle, but it’s ultimately just a useless tease. You cycle through weapons by repeatedly pressing the same button, and to reload, you shake the Wiimote, which also manages to totally fuck up your calibration for a while. You also have a knife for slashing pesky critters that get up all in your face, which requires pressing the A button and swiping with the Wiimote. Instead of shooting items you want to pick up, you have to press A while your cursor is hovering over them, which requires being damn fast. Most annoyingly, you have to press A and hit B to throw a grenade, which you end up doing accidentally. A LOT.
Guns can be built up and carry into repeat plays. Heath sprays you pick up are used as an “extra life,” while healing herbs are applied immediately. If you grab one and don’t need it, it’s sort of wasted, but not really since you can’t go back for it anyway.
The game is broken down by chapters (3 stages in each) with no choice of when to save, so you have to get through a chapter from start to finish. The game autosaves and you have checkpoints. When you die, you can continue, but it kicks you back to the last checkpoint, not right where you left off.
The game automatically sends you through most doors, but occasionally you have to hit a button to go through a door, even though it’s the ONLY choice you have. Dumb. There are also points at which you can choose different to take paths, but they only temporarily go different ways before merging back to the same destination.
You can go wild and shot up everything because there are plenty of items hidden within the environment. There are also some quicktime events. Hate those. And in classic light gun style, there are plenty of enemy cheap shots you can’t avoid.
As for the graphics, they’re not bad, but at times, it seriously looks like a PS1 game, getting especially blocky when you climb ladders or open doors.
The best part of the game is that you are pretty much playing condensed versions of the original games in first person with somewhat updated graphics. It goes something like this:
1st Chapter – Three stages from Resident Evil Zero with Billy and Rebecca. This chapter also has two bonus stages in which you play as Wesker. Bonus stages are usually pretty much the same as the main stages with just a few new enemies and a different boss.
2nd Chapter – Three stages from Resident Evil 1 remake, with fast zombies and fricking Lisa! And the damn sharks. I fucking hate the shark segment.
3rd Chapter – These three stages are essentially Resident Evil 3, with you exploring Raccoon City. You also are given a fricking flashlight that is attached to your gun in terrifying dark scenes. Moving the gun changes where the light is shining, which sucks.
One of the bonus stages here is an Ada Wong mission and it’s fucking impossible. To get through it, I had to download a game save with everything unlocked. But even using the infinite rocket launcher, I still got my ass kicked. The checkpoint is way too late, you get slammed by endless enemies, and you’re not given enough health. Then after the final boss, you have to hit the grappling gun button at just the right time to get on a helicopter or else hunters knock you off your pedestal, taking your health with them, and forcing you to try all over again.
In the second bonus stage, you play as hunk. It’s an easy and short stage, and there are even some settings from Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. There’s also this annoyingly loud, almost constant radio transmission while you’re playing.
4th Chapter – This is the hardest segment. You’re bombarded by enemies, have lots of path choices, face an even worse shark attack scene, and are thrust into a shitty boss battle with tons of quicktime moments while you’re trying to shoot him.
RESIDENT EVIL: THE DARKSIDE CHRONICLES
You’d think this second installment on the Wii would be more of the same, but they’ve changed things up. The Darkside Chronicles is much more cinematic and action-oriented than The Umbrella Chronicles. As a result, they seemed to be going for a shaky cam found footage feel, which gets kind of annoying. But it’s still a much better game than the first.
There are plenty of differences. You always have an AI team member with you who can take damage, so you have to make sure to shoot enemies off him. You can’t move your sights slightly in any direction at all. You can choose different guns by going into inventory. You can carry health and have to take it instead of having it automatically taken when picking it up. Plus, you can use it to heal your team member. You can shoot objects to find gold to use to buy upgrades for guns, but the upgrades are costly. They can also only be done between chapters.
The Darkside Chronicles is a much easier game than The Umbrella Chronicles. The handgun has infinite ammo and you can pretty much get through most of the game using it. And the aiming is much better in this game as well. Unfortunately, there are still quicktime events. Ugh.
Once again, the game takes you to plenty of familiar locations, along with plenty of new ones spread throughout three different chapters:
MEMORY OF A LOST CITY – This chapter has 8 stages. Some Resident Evil 2 throwback! You play in the police station, meet Ada and Sherry, and face a nightmare of a boss battle. You are given a rocket launcher for it, but when you pick it up, it needs to be reloaded, which takes forever and usually means missing your golden opportunity to nail him.
GAME OF OBLIVION – This chapter has 7 stages and takes us back to Code Veronica, with fricking Bandersnatches and the drag queen villain! The final boss is infuriating here. After a long battle with her, she becomes a flying boss. You get a linear launcher that gets one shot and then has to recharge. Trying to hit this flying bitch with it sux. Plus, although you are not warned of this, once you get the launcher, it’s not automatically equipped. You have to go into your inventory and equip it.
OPERATION JAVIER – The final chapter has 7 stages and is sort of a nod to Resident Evil 4. It’s also tougher, faster, and gives you less time to grab crucial items.
I think The Darkside Chronicles is my favorite of all the games, and you kind of want to play it through more than once to build up your guns. But seriously, you’ll have to play through it dozens of times to max out even half of them. It is damn costly to upgrade guns!