If you’ve played Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, you know what to expect from its darker sibling. Action is around every corner in this rail shooter, and the game retains its winning formula – unapologetic RE fan service augmenting uncomplicated arcade play.

Whether you’ll enjoy Darkside Chronicles more than its predecessor ultimately comes down to personal taste. Instead of a string of definitive gameplay improvements, Capcom and Cavia have made many trade-offs. I am a big fan of the newly introduced sub-screen, which allows for weapon configuration and the deliberate use of recovery items, but would have loved to see the nunchuk-enabled camera control stick. I like the streamlined reticule sans ammo indicator, but wish the simple two-button grenade lob hadn’t been left for dead. The shaky camera adds a level of authenticity, but makes it notably harder to pull off headshots.

Gameplay refinements aside, Chronicles excels at reimagining and abridging past Resident Evil games. Darkside follows the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, while adding an all-new South American mission. Starring Leon Kennedy and Jack Krauser, the new campaign fleshes out the events leading up to Resident Evil 4 and feels right at home in the world of Umbrella’s unleashed horrors.

While seeing fan-favorite Leon Kennedy in a new adventure will be the largest draw for some, others will revel the chance to have him work in tandem with Claire during the Resident Evil 2 set piece – my personal favorite of the three. Here Capcom did a fantastic job of reworking key plot points of both Claire and Leon’s playthroughs, making the single integrated campaign feel fresh and familiar. The result is a comprehensive look at the entire RE 2 narrative, albeit a condensed one. The same can be said for the Code Veronica adaptation, where the scenarios are adjusted to facilitate a cooperative experience. It feels natural for Claire and Steve to work together against the omnipresent Alfred Ashford. When you factor in additional appearances by Albert Wesker, Ada Wong, and Chris Redfield, you get a game steeped to the bone in classic Resident Evil lore.

All three episodes are comprehensive, resulting in a surprisingly long game. Even on the default difficulty setting, this is compounded by the challenge offered by bottlenecks of infected creatures and bosses. Expect to die a few times, especially if playing alone – something I don’t recommend as single-player feels unbalanced. Darkside Chronicles is obviously optimized for teamwork, but even a pair of reticles can’t stop a few frustrating cheap shots. These troublesome sections are the only times the on-rails gameplay feels restrictive – but at least the save points are forgiving.

Collectables provide a strong incentive to keep picking up the controller. Shooting environmental objects yields Umbrella tokens and gold. Once a chapter is complete, tokens unlock archives – character and enemy bios, movies, and even journals and diaries unchanged from their original debut. Gold can be used to upgrade weaponry for your next adventure.

Being on rails and having a handgun with infinite ammo at your disposal negates the fear associated with tank-like controls and limited resources from the early Resident Evil games, so real scares are few and far between. Quick turns of the camera try to catch you off guard, but I wouldn’t call Darkside Chronicles scary. Intense seems to be a more accurate descriptor, especially when describing the numerous back-to-back boss fights.

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles acts as a fantastic primer for those who started with the more action-centric Resident Evil iterations, while simultaneously providing fan service and fun for dedicated followers. Novices and veterans alike would be doing themselves a disservice by passing up this game.