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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is a sequel to earlier Resident Evil rail shooter Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Set in 2002, it covers Leon S. Kennedy's backstory with Jack Krauser, hinted at in Resident Evil 4, as the two are deployed deep into the South American jungles to investigate rumors of an infamous drug lord, Javier Hidalgo, having contact with an underground Umbrella researcher. They discover that the rumors are true and Javier has bought a considerable number of B.O.W.s to use as terror-weapons against his enemies, as well as samples of the T-Veronica virus, which he has used to unleash a plague of zombies upon the countryside. Meeting a mysterious girl named Manuela, the two men must find out why a drug lord has begun to dabble in bio-weaponry.
The Darkside Chronicles is divided into three levels, each of which is subdivided into a number of chapters. Operation Javier is the main level, covering Leon and Krauser's efforts to battle Javier. Memory of a Lost City is an adaptation of Resident Evil 2, framed as Leon recounting his previous experience with biohazard outbreaks to Krauser. Game of Oblivion is implied to be Leon's recollections/near-drowning induced fever dream of the story of the T-Veronica virus, as told to him by Claire Redfield after the events of Resident Evil Code: Veronica. In the game, Memory of a Lost City occurs after the first chapter of Operation Javier and Game of Oblivion likewise occurs in between the second and third chapters of Operation Javier. Chapters 6 and 7 of Operation Javier, sometimes referred to as Darkness Falls or Krauser's Hidden Story, are a retelling of Chapters 4 and 5 from Krauser's point of view.
It's harder to place The Darkside Chronicles on the canon scale then its predecessor, as its adaptations change things more then The Umbrella Chronicles did.
Tropes featured in this game include:
- Actor Allusion: This isn't the only time Jim Ward played a character who ends up being fired by his own government for certain reasons.
- Adult Fear: Imagine being a resident of the South American village in the Operation Javier scenerio in the game, when a lot of girls are going missing and becoming unwilling organ doners for the dying daughter of the drug lord that governs over the village.
- Also, being forced into very dangerous combat service or else risk having a little girl be killed/vivisected/experimented on/etc by your government.
- Animation Bump: In a rare example of taking a step back to improve animation, this game goes with Chris Redfield's original look and not his steroid-fueled look from Resident Evil 5. It could also arguably be said Chris simply canonically bulked up between appearances and was "officially" less muscular during this time frame, similar to Leon.
- Anti-Villain: Javier Hidalgo of the Type III. He is a drug lord and knows what he's doing is wrong, but genuinely loves his daughter Manuela and after suffering the death of his wife Hilda and learning his daughter contracted the same disease, desperately turned to whatever means he could to keep her alive. Of course that meant he was willing to use the T-Veronica virus and abduct girls about Manuela's age to transplant their organs.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Many enemies have a spot that they take extra damage from, usually the head or mouth. With bosses, this is usually the only way the player can actually hurt them. Examples include the head and heart for Tyrants and the Jabberwock S3s, Nosferatu's heart, and the open mouth of Hunter Gammas.
- Awesome but Impractical: The unlockable Linear Launcher has a ridiculously slow recharge rate per shot unless it is fully upgraded.
- Blood Knight: Krauser's reason for joining SOCOM is because he doesn't think he could actually function in normal society, and this work actually gives his life meaning.
- Steve likes to take his aggression out on zombies, and given recent events, he has a lot of it.
- Boom! Headshot!: Identical to the version used in The Umbrella Chronicles, except the target zone is wider and so it's easier to pull off. True headshots result in the head exploding, while misaimed headshots will cause more damage and result in a neat little spurt of blood.
- Boring but Practical: The standard pistol may be all the player ever needs for all the difficulties besides Very Hard. It has unlimited ammo and, when fully upgraded, has enough firepower to utterly destroy any single boss the game throws at the player. Plus, it's the only weapon capable of One-Hit Kill-Boom Headshots.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Inverted. The Jabberwock S3 looks like some variant of the Tyrant right down to the exposed heart, perhaps incorporating spider DNA, but otherwise is just an ordinary enemy.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Getting the Linear Launcher as a weapon that the player can use in any chapter.
- Broad Strokes: Basically how the adaptations of Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica should be seen. Even beyond the strong application of Never Split the Party compared to the original's predominance of Let's Split Up, Gang!, the cutscenes often change events. The most blatant change came in the retelling of Code: Veronica, which displayed Alfred and Alexia Ashford as disturbingly close - here, Alexia cares little for Alfred and even kills him for being "useless".
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Both Claire and Leon get to duke it out on who's more snarky between the two.
- Krauser more than holds his own; banter between him and Leon are veritable snark-fests.
Krauser: I don't care how much they're paying [Leon]. This job sucks.
- Determinator: The T-078 in Game Of Oblivion gets caught in the waist by an activated missile. It wrestles with the rocket-propelled explosive, almost succeeding in holding it at bay until its ignition sequence stops but loses its footing and is carried out of the cargo bay.
- Mind, this is after being shot to death once, left behind on an exploding island, and then it somehow clung onto the escape plane's exterior until it was halfway over the ocean.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Some of the final bosses are ridiculously huge and powerful. The player may need a special storyline weapon for some of them, but most will go down to the player and their pistol. Specifically, the player needs to use a rocket launcher to defeat Combat Mode Mr. X (a.k.a. "The Super Tyrant"), the Linear Launcher to defeat Alexia, and a missile to defeat the T-078 Tyrant. The biggest and nastiest of them all, Javier's T-virus forum, goes down quickly to Manuella's flammable blood, but could theoretically be taken down by the player alone.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Manuela Hidalgo.
- Fake Difficulty: The creatures, particularly in Operation Javier, keep having their health boosted as the chapters go by - a maximum damage handgun will take out a Gamma Hunter with one shot in the first chapter, but half a maximized clip is needed in the fourth chapter. Couple this with the increasing amount of helmeted zombies who need two shots to remove their helmets and the fact that they seem to get even tougher in the special Krauser missions. The Hard difficulty reducing the headshot zone to the same level as The Umbrella Chronicles or worse does not make things any easier.
- Fallen Hero: Jack Krauser.
- Foregone Conclusion: This game takes place before Resident Evil 4. Krauser is a villain in Resident Evil 4. Don't act surprised.
- Framing Device: Operation Javier provides the frame for the two other levels.
- Freaky Is Cool: The secret chapters, a retelling from Krauser's perspective after finally reaching Javier's mansion, reveal he has begun to admire the Umbrella viruses and the power they can bring, particularly after seeing what Maneula can do with her T-Veronica infection.
- Gainaxing: Mutated Alexia.
- Genre Savvy: At the beginning, Leon tells Krauser to aim for the head to kill the zombies. Later on Claire tells Steve to aim for the bosses' heads.
- George Jetson Job Security: This is Krauser's ultimate fate by the true end of the game, as despite his extinguished service in the military, SOCOM fires him because of an arm injury he received during the mission that never really recovered. He doesn't take this news very well at all.
- Giant Spider: This game has the most variety of any Resident Evil game to date. Giant jumping spiders called Jumping Maneaters in Operation Javier, the tarantula-like Web Spinners in Memory of a Lost City, and giant Black Widows in Game of Oblivion.
- Green-Eyed Monster: The main reason why Krauser pulled his Face Heel Turn. He was envious that Leon was so special in the eyes of the government despite being "employed" against his will, while Krauser was not, despite being a willing member of SOCOM. The mission with Leon also ultimately turned out to be his last mission in SOCOM, something he was very much displeased with as he viewed serving in the military as his life.
- Guide Dang It:
- In the case of the Super Tyrant near the end of Memory of a Lost City, the player needs to time the rocket shot so that it hits when it leaps and lands. Shooting it at any other time causes it to swat away the rocket or catch and return it at the player.
- To a lesser extent, Third Form Alexia needs to be shot with the Linear Launcher to end the battle, but she moves too fast for the player to get a proper shot. She can be stunned with any other weapon when she launches her needles, giving the player a brief opportunity to switch to the Linear Launcher and hit her.
- Guns Akimbo: Since the player can play this game with only the Wii remote, they can play with one in each hand.
- Inferred Holocaust: There are T-Virus infected piranha loose in the Amazon river system. South America is boned.
- Infinity Plus One Gun: The Linear Launcher requires the player to complete every chapter on Hard difficulty, but it's worth it. It has the most damage and stopping power of any gun in the game (both S rank, and each can be upgraded to S+ rank for 22000 gold), a massive splash radius, and infinite ammo. The only drawback is that it needs to recharge in between each shot... but, this is an upgradable stat and, at maximum, it takes something like two seconds to charge.
- Jittercam: Used to add to the atmosphere. However it also makes it harder to aim than in its predecessor.
- The Internet Is for Porn: Steve mentions to Claire that the guards used the computers for games and porn.
- Killer Rabbit: The secret level has all the zombies replaced by tofu. Monstrous tofu that can't be headshotted, need at least three shots to kill, and can kill the player in 3 hits. Fortunately for the player, these tofu also possess the qualities of... tofu.
- Lampshade Hanging:
Steve: Zombie, zombie, zombie, zombie, zombie! It's like a damn video game!
- After going through a door puzzle that has the player removing (via shooting) dolls so a boy can get to his lover, Steve says this gem that hangs a lampshade on all of the nigh-ridiculous or nonsensical puzzles in the series:
Steve: Well that's a complicated way to open a door.
Leon: This is like a horror movie...
- Lazy Backup: Averted in that the player's partner will shoot and kill enemies on their own even when there's no second player. The downside is that they also have a health bar and can be attacked or even killed by enemies as well.
- Love Makes You Evil: Javier Hidalgo , upon learning his daughter was infected with the same incurable terminal disease that killed her mother, infected her with T-Veronica. He then began preparing to spend the next 15 years abducting and murdering girls so he could transplant their organs into Manuela in order to keep her from becoming a mindless Veronica mutant, and has already killed 50 innocent girls by the time the game starts.
- Male Gaze: Steve gets a nice POV of Claire's butt in the first chapter of Game of Oblivion.
- Man-Eating Plant: The Ivy B.O.W. returns in the Resident Evil 2 chapters. Operation Javier has the Ivy XY, a tropical variant, as well as the V Complex.
- Multiple Endings: Two endings are possible, with a third that simply adds to the good ending. Beat V Compound in under 10 minutes, and Manuela lives and manages to remain human. Fail to beat it in that time, and Maneula loses too much blood and burns up from the T-Veronica virus. And then there's the secret ending (the aforementioned expansion on the good ending) revealing that Wesker is watching the fight and Krauser's thoughts on the subject.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse:
- The ending cutscene of Memory of a Lost City shows why Leon joined the government to become their agent prior to this game, and where Sherry is. While Claire somehow wandered off after Raccoon City was destroyed, Leon and Sherry were captured by the government and Leon was given the choice; work for them, or be imprisoned while Sherry is taken off for experimentation, due to being the last source of the Devil Vaccine.
- Krauser gets a variation of this when he realizes that his career with SOCOM is likely over, and Wesker is the only one who can let him continue doing the only thing he's good at.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Monster Steve's theme, Alexia's themes, and both of Hilda's themes. Even more ironic because the second is a mimicry of the lullaby that Manuela sings.
- Palette Swap: Subverted. The Jabberwock S3 was based on Steve's monstrous form and has some of Nosferatu's attributes as well (the three extra limbs on the back, for example). Its arms and head, however, are designed to resemble those of spiders.
- Press X to Not Die: When facing a boss, there are only two ways to avoid being hit. The first is to disrupt the attack by shooting it (e.g. blasting Birkin 1 in the head to avoid being clubbed, or blowing up Alexia's fireballs), or pressing the right button combo to dodge, which is only valid against certain attacks (e.g. the crocodile's lunge).
- Rank Inflation: Most Resident Evil games have a rank system that goes from D to C to B to A to S. The Darkside Chronicles has "+" versions of all of those ranks in between the lower and higher rank, up to S+ as the highest rank.
- Rewarding Vandalism: As in The Umbrella Chronicles, shooting stuff gets the player files and also gold, which is used to upgrade their weapons. It doesn't count towards the player end-of-level score, though.
- Rule of Funny: The unlocked minigame seems to be one part this, one part Shout-Out to Resident Evil 2's "Tofu Survivor", as it depicts Claire having to escape from the RCPD building while fighting her way through swarms of man-sized vicious blocks of tofu which are blown into ludicrous fragments by the player's gunfire.
- Sequential Boss: The player has to fight William Birkin's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th form in a row with no breaks in between, and his health bar fully replenishes for each form. The player has to conserve their ammo and healing items.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Krauser. He considers the military to be the only thing that gives his life meaning and does not take it well when he is forced to retired from the military after his arm is permanently damaged by the Hilda creature.
- Shout-Out: In the ending of the Code: Veronica recount, Wesker is seen looking up from the flames of the island facility that Alexis was inside as he watches Chris's helicopter flying away, similar to Sephiroth.
- Shotguns Are Just Better: Brutally subverted. The shotgun's sole virtue is its spread shot which allows it to hit multiple targets at once, though it does have good hitting (A+) and stopping (S+) power. It's an average gun at best but has one of the worst reload times in the game, with only the rocket launcher taking longer. What's more, its reload time is a fixed stat so it can't be improved. Increasing its capacity is generally not advised as reload times increases as well.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: That very high stopping power is all but necessary to survive some bosses, who need to be stunned during very short windows of opportunity in order to avoid damage. The wide spread also helps with the tricky aiming on those very important shots.
- Start of Darkness: For Krauser, leaving him somewhat of an Anti-Villain once Resident Evil 4 rolls around.
- Unreliable Narrator: A possible explanation for the differences between how Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica originally happened, and how they're depicted here. Leon is telling the story secondhand (in the second game, he never even met Chief Irons, let alone witnessed his death), and is getting some of his facts mixed up. Justified in that he and Krauser are in a life-or-death scenario of the worst kind, and Leon is recalling similar experiences Claire had: babysitting first a little girl and then a teenaged male who acts like a little boy at times. It's likely Leon's letting his own experiences bleed into the retellings. Leon's memory can't and shouldn't be expected to be sharp when he's retelling a traumatic experience in a small break during a traumatic experience.
- Was Once a Man: The unidentifiable amphibious B.O.W. the player fights in the first and second-last chapters of Operation Javier? That's Manuela's mother Hilda, transformed into her present state with a severe overdose of the T-Veronica virus by her husband.