Saturday, April 14

The Umbrella Chronicles-Reloading

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was informally announced a long time ago, but Capcom finally officially announced the title at their Gamers Day Event. Umbrella Chronicles is a first-person-shooter for Wii similar to TimeCrisis or House of the Dead. Players aim a targeting recticule around the screen with the remote pointer. The viewpoint can be moved with the nunchuck analog stick to look around. However, the game is completely on-rails and therefore movement is predetermined and timed. As in any other arcade-shooter, players must manually reload their guns. Reloading in arcade shooters has tradionally been another layer of precision and timing required by the player. Umbrella Chronicles plays to this tradition as well, but to a variety of responses. Yesterday I read about five or so previews about Umbrella Chronicles from various acclaimed game websites. Some of editors like the reloading system, others don't, even when all are basing their judgment on the same reason. To reload any given weapon, all players have to do is shake the remote. Lets start off with the opinion of Chris Kohler, from his "Wired" blog, GameLife.
When the circle runs out -- or preferably, before it does -- you'll want to shake the Wiimote to reload. It's a great mechanic that feels really good, much like aiming off the screen to reload in traditional light gun games -- because just like in real life, reloading forces you to take your gun away from the target and lose your aim.
I love his last statement about losing your aim. Just based on this, shaking the remote to reload seems like an effective yet strategic gameplay mechanism. But lets read other sites opinions.
We also noticed that the controls need tuning, as the reload doesn't work as often as it should, and the reticule bounces around the screen a bit much.
On paper, everything sounds good, but in practice it was obvious that they still had a number of kinks to work out. Reloading weapons with low ammunition was quite laggy, and when you need to reload a pistol or shotgun quickly there was a noticeable delay. When you have a number of hungry zombies homing in on you, this proves to be quite frustrating. Sure, shaking the remote to reload is one way to accomplish this action, but there are ways that could make this easier and responsive. Our ultimate control scheme would be for Capcom to map the scrolling of weapons to the Nunchuck buttons, and pressing down on the d-pad for reloading. The gameplay is quick, and we want to be on top of everything.
All you really have to do in the game is point and shoot, but the hardest part about grasping Umbrella Chronicles' controls in our early test was unfortunately the most important: reloading. Flicking seemed to be the best option in our play session (shaking didn't work too well), but we also tried pointing the Remote down for a brief moment a la traditional light-gun games. It worked, but that was a bit too slow for the quick pace of the game.

Essentially, most people feel that reloading simply isn't responsive enough. However, Kohlers comment still rings true in that the current system forces players to lose their aim. Another things about the control is that it is difficult to steady the pointer. Once again Kohler is the optomist saying that this is the whole point behind arcade-shooters. If shooting is all you will be doing, then shouldn't the aim be as realstic (difficult) as possible? Kohler contrasts this with Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. RE4 is an action heavy game where players must run around frantically avoiding ganado. The Wii Edition, therefore, has a more steady aim than Umbrella Chronicles. There is also a gameply video available for viewing at IGN if you so desire.

Reloading Chronicle
What do you think of the reloading mechanism in Umbrella Chronciles? How about RE4: Wii?

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