Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection is an awesome package for PlayStation 3 users, provided you're willing to climb several steep barriers of entry.
The first barrier is a no-brainer: You have to love zombies. I assume everyone can check that off the list. Who doesn't love popping a cap in a digital undead guy?
The rest of the barriers are a little harder to overcome. Before I get into them, however, here's what you need to know about the latest offering.
In the tried-and-true tradition of Resident Evil being more confusing than it needs to be, Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection is actually two games. The package contains high-definition remakes of Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, two on-rails shooters released previously for the Nintendo Wii.
If you've already played the Wii titles, you can skip this version. Aside from a shiny coat of high-def paint and some added precision from PlayStation's superior motion controller, there isn't much here that you haven't seen before.
But if you've never played them, or you love them so much you want to play them again, you can't beat the value. For less than $30, you get both games and don't even have to leave your house to pick up a copy, as it's available for download on the PlayStation Network.
However, calling that price a value depends on whether you already own the other things you'll need to get the most out of the game. (This is where those other barriers come in.)
Barrier 1: You can play the games with a standard controller, but why would you? The games are on-rails shooters, meaning your character moves automatically. Your task is to shoot, cut or chuck grenades at every zombie that pops its ugly head into your field of view.
That's much easier and more fun to do with a PlayStation Move motion controller. Move is sold separately, so you'll need to spring for one to experience Chronicles the way it was meant to be played.
Barrier 2: You'll probably want to buy two Move controllers. Chronicles is much more fun playing cooperatively with a friend, harking back to days I spent playing House of the Dead or Time Crisis in arcades with my buddies.
Barrier 3: Once you get the controllers, I recommend buying a PlayStation Move Sharpshooter, a plastic housing shaped like an assault rifle that holds the Move controller.
No, this isn't just to make you look and feel awesome while you play, though that is a nice side-effect. Holding the PlayStation Move without the Sharpshooter peripheral felt awkward and caused my wrist to cramp. The Sharpshooter added comfort and precision, letting me keep blasting zombies well into the night.
Barrier 4: A big high-definition TV is a plus. This was the most underwhelming part of my time with the games, because I play games on a 24-inch monitor, which gave me frustratingly little real estate on which to aim my Move.
To really experience the atmosphere, to feel like you're really exploring zombie-filled trains and research facilities, you need a TV preferably 32 inches or larger. The bigger the better.
Barrier 5: You have to have an existing appreciation for Resident Evil lore to get anything out of the games' stories. Chronicles HD retells the events of the first five canonical Resident Evil games. If you're not an aficionado, you probably won't know what's going on most of the time.
That said, you don't need to care about the story to have a blast. The games throw in some clever bosses that test your reflexes and memorization, and that makes the game fun for fans and casual players alike.
If you already have a Move, Sharpshooter, a friend and a nice TV, and if you haven't played the Chronicles games already on Wii, you're sure to find a lot to love from Capcom's latest Resident Evil offering.
If you're missing more than one or two of these prerequisites, I would recommend waiting for Resident Evil 6 to hit in October to get your survival-horror fix.