Resident Evil: Revelations
NOTE: Resident Evil: Revelations supports the Circle Pad Pro accessory, adding an additional analogue pad for camera control, as well as extra button functions. To see how Revelations performed with this device, versus vanilla controls, check out our Circle Pad Pro Review.
Terragrigia burns. Once a naturalist paradise, and beacon for environmental rights in the 21st century, the floating city is undone, as a torrent of focused solar energy rains down up upon all it’s inhabitants, stripping muscle from flesh, and burning buildings from the inside out. A terrible fate, but a necessary one, for Terragriagia had become wrought with beasts and creatures torn straight nightmares, citizens and tourists replaced with Bio Organic Weapons reaping terror through the streets. “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”wrote Dante Alighiere, and though his words ring true for Terragrigia, there’s no doubt the city had become living hell long before the heat arrived.
There’s two things gamers should know about Resident Evil: Revelations before jumping in, and both relate to the juxtaposition of two very different game design philosophies. Firstly, Revelations will be a return to form for many soured by the action laden Resident Evil 5, thanks to a stronger emphasis on tension and horror. Secondly, Revelations is constructed and paced in a way unlike any Resident Evil before it, which ironically, give the first point, may turn away traditionalist series veterans. Regardless of these points, Revelations is undoubtedly a culmination of all things Resident Evil, a jack-of-all-trades distilled in a single, portable package, and the results are spectacular.
The campaign kicks off with players slipping into the sexy diving suit of a franchise favourite; the one and only Jill Valentine. Teaming up with Parker Luciani, one of many excellent new characters introduced inRevelations, the two investigate a desolate ship in search of Valentine’s regular companion, Chris Redfield, and his saucy new partner Jessica Sherawat. What follows is a tale of mystery and horror, spanning memorable locations and a huge cast of characters, told through the ingenious method of ‘episodes’. Not unlike the structure of a television series, each ‘episode’ of Revelations covers Valentine’s exploration of the ship, a large, persistent environment reminiscent of the original Resident Evil mansion, right down to key hunting and occasional backtracking, while occasionally switching to side characters and their adventures elsewhere. These chapters are usually stand alone affairs, covering events happening elsewhere, or even in the past, and allow for a break from Valentine’s slower, spookier ship crawling in favour of action focused set pieces.
While it might sound disconnected on paper, the end result is a beautiful marriage of meticulously paced exposition of key plot points and character story arcs. Each chapter will grant Valentine a set goal and a series of developing events taking place on the ship, while the side stories interweave with the ship’s mysteries and more, creating a web of plot points that, over the course of the entire game, slowly weave together to create an overarching ‘seasonal’ plot line, of which is surprisingly enthralling, and even capped with delightful pre-chapter intermission recaps barking “Previously, on Resident Evil: Revelations…”.
An interesting story and multiple playable characters wouldn’t be of much use without core gameplay to back it up, and thankfully Revelations delivers in spades. As mentioned, Valentine’s nightmarish love boat adventures are hugely reminiscent of Resident Evil‘s mansion, right down to the creepy jump scares, brooding tensions, and thick atmosphere, though noticeably light on puzzles just as all the mainline Resident Evil titles have been since Resident Evil 4. The ship of choice is a luxury liner, going a long way to introducing new environment types and set pieces throughout, including living quarters, a casino, and dining halls. Littered throughout are mutant aberrations new to the franchise, and though the game as a whole is a little lacking in enemy variety, the selection is varied enough to demand application of different tactics to exploit weak points and avoid damage, and is highlighted by some interesting, if borderline bullet spongy, boss fights.
Engaging enemies is, for most part, immensely satisfying. Outside of a few weapons marred by strangely low bit rate audio samples, majority of the armory sounds and feels punchy, dealing gruesome damage to fleshy foes. The assortment of weapons is the usual standard for a Resident Evil game; pistols, machine guns, rifles, shot guns, and the classic rocket launcher. Throughout the game multiple weapons can be collected, along with several weapon upgrades, leading to a nice meta game of mixing and matching loadouts with particular upgrades that best accompany your chosen play style.
Though the combat is satisfactory during Valentine’s missions, the action focused secondary stories expose a few flaws, notably the questionable balance of ammo availability against hoards of tough enemies, and a few collision detection woes instilling doubt if that head shot actually registered as a head shot. These stories also rely off the formula most prevalent in Resident Evil 5, and will likely serve as lower points ofRevelations for old school fans who prefer the horror over explosions. Yet, in their favour, each of these action side stories move forward at a speedy pace, and are comparatively short in length to Valentine’s main narrative.
Value for money is a concern for many gamers these days, and this is perhaps where Revelations is most surprising of all. The campaign itself is packed with enough content to stand up with the console entries, but to extend the experience Capcom felt fit to include a ‘Raid’ mode, the love child of the standard campaign and what folk might expect from the series’ staple Mercenaries mode. In Raid, players are tasked with running through campaign locations remixed as score challenges, coming face to face with new enemies, equipped with new weapons, and earning points for quick, accurate and skillful play. These points then go towards purchasing even more equipment and weapon upgrades, to improve performance on completed stages, and bulk up for the tough ones. A levelling system on both playable characters (of which there are many to be unlocked), and the weapons and upgrades themselves, results in an incredibly addictive arcade experience. Best of all, the entirety of Raid can be played with a buddy online, an experience that develops a comradery between yourself and your potentially anonymous friend backed by an unspoken “I’ll watch your back, if you watch mine” philosophy in adrenaline rushing shoot-outs. Raid is simply so good, and so addictive, that the notion that Mario Kart 7 is the definitive online Nintendo 3DS experience is seriously worth contending.
But it doesn’t stop there. If Raid doesn’t tickle your pickle (remember, you can still play it solo), the campaign itself offers a new game plus to start all over again with your old equipment, allowing weapons to be further upgraded and new goodies to be discovered. Particularly impressive is the hell difficulty, unlocked after beating the game. Rather than suffice with upping enemy health and pitting the player against the world, hell totally revises item and weapon placement and enemy encounters. Yes, tougher enemies will be encountered early on, but the formula in which you will encounter them is unpredictable and unexpected. Where you expect enemies to appear, they won’t, and that familiar safe zone might now be loaded with hidden, unpleasant surprises. Playing through on hell, though quite the challenge, draws parallels with playing Resident Evil on the GameCube after having played the original PlayStation release; welcoming in it’s familiarity, though packed with unexpected encounters and legitimate surprises, many of which deliberately play on your unintentional memorisation of levels and enemies.
Fun to play, packed full of content, and an interesting story. Yet, it gets better. Though not a surprise to anybody who has been following the game, Revelations features, without a shred of doubt, among the most impressive visuals and productions values of not just any title on the Nintendo 3DS, but any portable titleperiod. The level of visual quality is simply astounding given the usual crop of games on the platform, thanks to an impressive MT Framework Mobile engine that milks the 3DS graphics processor to produce dynamic lighting, wide texture variety, rich shadows, colour correction, and bump mapping for additional detail on characters, enemies and the environment. Unlike some other titles, the stereo 3D here isn’t necessary to play the game. In fact, in 3D the game does expose quite a substantial amount of aliasing, all of which is alleviated in 2D mode as the engine deploys anti-aliasing filters. However, for those who enjoy the effect, Capcom has included a 3D enhancing option to create an even deeper, stereo display that, jaggies and all, is very impressive. Framerate fluctuations expose an engine that could do with a little more optimisation, or perhaps a game pushing the hardware further than it should, but these concerns rarely impact the playability and visual splendour of this gorgeous game.
Resident Evil: Revelations is exactly that; a revelation. It is a revelation that console calibre production values can be faithfully recreated on a tiny portable system with but a fraction of the graphical horsepower. It is a revelation that Capcom still understands where Resident Evil has it’s roots, and how much fans will appreciate the return. And lastly, it is a revelation that Capcom is prepared to reinvent the Resident Evilformula, to try new things and, perhaps most importantly, have them work.
After Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7, most 3DS gamers were relieved to see the little platform finally hitting it’s strides. If Revelations is anything to go by, those strides are long and bold, promising even greater things to come. Revelations is a better game on almost all fronts than Resident Evil 5, a must play for allResident Evil fans, and essential gaming for anybody who owns a Nintendo 3Ds. Don’t miss out.