Capcom's booth at this year's San Diego Comic Con featured a small number of various recycled E3 demos on the floor, but the main attraction was behind closed doors. A small hut in the middle housed a single demo station each for Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Devil May Cry 4. To avoid a stampede, attendees were required to queue up and enter a few at a time. I cut to the chase and got in line as soon as I set foot in the booth.
While waiting, I caught glimpses of other games on display, like Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law for PSP and PS2. It looked like a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney clone, with a flash animation art style reminiscent of Cartoon Network's Space Ghost. It's the same type of legal eagle game, but the interface was less attractive and I didn't really care for the cheap look of the 'toons. There's also a fairly cluttered menu system to access evidence exhibits and such. Harvey Birdman is developed by High Voltage software and only published by Capcom, so the same level of quality as their internally dev'ed Phoenix Wright series is not something to be taken for granted... I didn't actually play the game, so keep in mind that these impressions are based on about five minutes of over-the-shoulder gameplay observation. Didn't look that fun.
Much more entertaining while I waited for the RE/DMC shack was the Super Street Fighter II tournament that Capcom was holding nearby in an elevated boxing ring. These guys were trained professionals and brought their own arcade sticks like Paul Newman brings a cue to a pool hall. It was the EVO finals, and I was surprised at what an entertaining spectator sport it made. Almost every match came down to the wire, with a number of dramatic reversals from round to round, and even a couple bouts featuring two double KO's in a row. A knowledgeable emcee kept everything moving and provided entertaining color commentary. I believe “Afro Legends" was the guy to beat when the dust settled. By the time my half-hour wait in line was up, I almost wanted to stay outside to watch just one more match...
Once I finally arrived at the beaded curtain entrance, the Capcom rep admonished that there would be a strict five-minute playtime limit on either game kiosk, but don't worry, afterwards you get to pick a free parting gift to make up for the steep hands-on-to-wait-time ratio. That's awful nice of them. I chose to start off with Umbrella Chronicles, because there were about half as many people crowded around that game as opposed to DMC4. And I had some idea of what DMC4 generally would play like, but I didn't know what to expect from Umbrella Chronicles.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
Immediately upon seeing this game in action, one thing becomes clear: If you are expecting something like RE4 or RE5 (oh Hell no), you're going to be disappointed. Big time. If you are even expecting a classic PlayStation era type RE game, you're going to be disappointed. You want to be anticipating the Wii equivalent of House of the Dead, then your expectations will fare much better. This is an RE-themed lightgun shooter, plain and simple.
As in most light gun games, there isn't direct control over your character's movement. You can look around with the nunchuk's thumbstick, but not alter your progress along a pre-set path. Generally, you lurch to a location, zombies pop out, and you riddle them with bullets ASAP before they get a chance to dance the monster mash with you. Repeat. There are probably branching paths in there somewhere, but I didn't stumble upon any. The Wii pointer works well as a light gun substitute, but it's almost too accurate. To make up for the ease of laser-pointer assisted aiming, Capcom has given each zombie the constitution to soak up nearly a dozen standard handgun shots. Even headshots will take a good while to put the undead to rest. Although this heightens the suspense as zombies crowd you in, it also can make for slow and occasionally frustrating going.
Luckily, you have a small arsenal at your disposal, and can toggle through more powerful weapons like the shotgun, machine gun, and grenade by using the cross pad. New weapons and health items occasionally appear partially hidden among the terrain, and can be picked up if you're quick enough while passing by. However, every other weapon besides the handgun is limited in ammo, so from time to time you'll be stuck with the pea-shooter. Zombies go down much faster with the machine gun or shotgun, but what really takes the cake are the grenades. Once I learned to use grenades at key strategic moments (say, when five zombies suddenly jump out from a doorway), the game became more fun. Usually a grenade is an instant kill, the equivalent of a screen-clearing smartbomb.