March 23rd, 2010
One of the most contentious aspects of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles is the targeting of critical, insta-kill shots. It’s understandable why this mechanic has received such harsh criticism, most of it’s founded, yet despite all the hoo-rah, there are solid reasons to defend the seemingly wonky. I wish to present both arguments as I see it. Again, video is a good point of reference, pity I can’t capture any myself.
Targeting System Introduction
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles employs a two-tier critical hit system. On hitting any enemy’s weak point, a white flash is emitted (think photography flash), when your cursor is pointed over a zombie’s critical weak point the reticle will blink red and on landing a hit a blue flash is emitted and the zombie dies instantly. Insta-kill, “critical” hits only apply to zombies or crimson heads and not to any of the other enemy types. The weak point target is the head, the critical hit target is their brains, located at the tip of the head.
- Being a little more specific and targeting the brain adds a layer of depth to the weak spot concept
- Using the brain as the insta-kill, critical hit target makes logical sense
- The inclusion of a second weak point forces players to be more methodical and strategic (particularly when confronted with a zombie up close, which then becomes a method of stunning and gunning for the insta-kill).
- In turn, this system pushes players towards playing for accuracy and not to just spam enemies
- And this ties in well with the hidden files, moments of gameplay where spamming bullets at destructible objects is encouraged. Overall, the critical hit supports RE: Umbrella Chronicles in being tidily organised and segmented
- To balance the 2 types of hits (3 if you count body shots), zombies takes roughly 3-5 head shots to down, this destroys the pacing
- Including two types of critical attacks is just confusing
- The system works against commonly accepted norms, being: head shots equal death, and that zombies go down with head shots
- Zombie’s heads therefore seem to be made of metal or something
Only Applicable for Zombies and Crimson Heads
(I didn’t want to preempt myself here, but it was necessary to include it in the above point as well). Zombies are the only enemy type whereby this targeting system is applicable, every other enemy in the game (snakes, dogs monkeys, lickers, hunters, all boss battles, etc) dies instantly by shooting their weak spot with the default gun (this is not so much the case with the other weapons).
- Zombies are a mainstay of the series, so it’s only appropriate that they’re given generous air time (through the long time it takes to aim precisely for critical hits, and the fact that zombies necessitate the critical hit variable)
- The confrontations with zombies are the most tactical of the entire game, they allow players to move between attacking and stunning (zombies in preparation for a critical hit) states
- Presence of zombies become far too overbearing
- It’s also repetitive to be constantly met with the same enemy type
- Sequences with a mob of zombies act as pockets of slower gameplay (as the player tries for precision), this creates a wave of inconsistency throughout the experience
- Logically it doesn’t make much sense that the targeting rules in regards to zombies don’t apply to the other enemy types
Only Achievable with One Gun
I almost preempted this point too. This system, which I’ve just elaborated on, applies mainly, but not exclusively, to the default gun (the Samurai Edge). With zombies, insta-kill shots (the ones which add to your tally at the end-of-level grading) can only be triggered with the Samurai Edge. With other enemies though, a hit to the weak spot with the Samurai Edge is an insta-kill, but with other weapons, this isn’t always the case.
- Again we’re seeing a construction of rules which invite the player to be strategic, since only one gun can land a critical hit, it’s important that the player use the other weapons to aid in landing that critical shot, whether it be through stunning enemies or clearing non-zombie distractions
- Since the Samurai Edge has unlimited ammo, the targeting system doesn’t privilege those with a stockpile
- If any weapon could cause a critical hit, then obviously the rapid-firing weapons would reign supreme over the entire game, so it’s best to let the default weapon grant this power
- Further unnecessary confusion, not only do critical hits only apply to zombies, but with use to a certain gun as well
- For players concious of critical hits, this design makes the selectable weapons cache partly redundant
The dual layered critical hit system works to give Umbrella Chronicles more depth and strategy. Without the restrictions to enemy and weapon types, players would simply rely on a machine gun to spam-critical-hit their way through the title. Instead, Umbrella Chronicles disposes of norms to create a rich shooting system which encourages strategy and accuracy over random blasting.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles‘ critical hit system is a non-unified one, and illogical at that. Zombies and the default gun are heavily favoured by way of establishing this system through the critical hit variable, and play therefore suffers from repetition. The other types of guns are also made redundant by this system. Furthermore, Umbrella Chronicles breaks the accepted norm that zombies die on head shots.