Unfortunately, you'll never get used to the abominable boss battles. For some reason, the on-rails shooter doesn't play well with screen-filling monstrosities. The devil is in the way you hold the Wii Remote: Bosses with quick movements are too hard to target, and it's even more frustrating that it's nigh-on impossible to prevent them from hitting you. All boss attacks can be avoided, either with a successfully-passed quick time event, or by shooting the spot that will cancel the "attack" animation into a "stopping" animation. The problem is these spots are insanely hard to hit. The camera is at its most Blair Witch during these fights, which makes success even harder. Almost all the boss fights follow the same pattern: you die, you try again, you die, you try again... ad nauseam. Fair challenge is acceptable; unfair challenge is not.
Other frustrations stem from a distinct lack of action. In single-player you see your AI partner, whether it be Leon, Rockfort Island prisoner Steve Burnside or Jack Krauser, on screen. This is a good thing, because otherwise you'd never know they were around. The co-op AI is as useless as a limbless zombie. Their once-in-a-blue-moon frequency of fire is so badly aimed, you're forced to wonder whether the AI subroutine governing the action was designed by Ghandi himself. They stand there and watch you get overwhelmed with all the casual ignorance of a ripening banana. Gah.
As with all games, playing with a friend is more fun - but it's by virtue of the act, not clever game design. You and your mate won't do anything more sophisticated than pointing and shooting, and pointing and shooting. There is no flanking, no strategy, no teamwork. Co-op is the same as single-player, really, just with extra, admittedly helpful, firepower.
Why is there no online play? Capcom will point to that most tiresome of excuses: lag. You might argue that the on-rails shooter is better suited to offline multiplayer, but this seems an easy cop-out. Online co-op would have allowed Cavia to craft more engaging levels. Imagine one player drawing a boss in one direction while the other flanks? Ah well. Maybe such thoughts are unreasonable: this is the Wii afterall.
Credit, though, must go to the game's unquestionable value. The main Chronicles mode is surprisingly meaty. On normal difficulty it'll last about eight hours, but you'll feel compelled to jump straight back in and replay. The many collectibles are usually hidden in crates, vases and other Havok physics-powered destructible objects. Getting them all will require repeated playthroughs, and some levels contain multiple paths, each yiedling different rewards.
The Darkside Chronicles is a mindless blast-a-thon. It lacks the sophistication of the recent Dead Space: Extraction, but it more than makes up for it by bewitching you with nostalgia. It's just great fun. Newcomers may find its frustrations too much to bare, but for those whom the words HUNK, Tofu (complete the game for a pleasant surprise) and T-Virus rekindle memories of heady summers spent battling the evil Umbrella corporation and running past giant spiders, The Darkside Chronicles is unmissable.
VideoGamer.com Score7 Score out of 10
- Brainless fun
- Resident Evil fan service
- Hopeless co-op AI
- Annoying camera