Looking back, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years since the first Resident Evil game was released onto Sony‘s inaugural PlayStation console. Defining the survival horror genre, Capcom‘s mysterious secluded mansion with its deadly secrets has turned into a long-running and incredibly popular gaming culture juggernaut. The years have been kind to the series, despite a couple of minor slips, as its large list of releases have managed to hit home with an audience that looks forward to finding out what goes bump in the night. Whether it’s been through a zombie creating virus, some sort of a plague or now biological warfare, the development teams behind this franchise have been up to the task of bringing us new experiences. That, along with unique monstrosities who will live on in digital nightmares for years to come.
Earlier this month, the franchise made its debut on yet another device: the Nintendo 3DS. Entitled Resident Evil: Revelations, this most recent release has an obvious goal. The hope is to entertain, “wow” and frighten a new generation of gamers using a mixture of classic mechanics and newer elements such as the ability to aim while moving. The end result is a game that is deeply rooted in the survival horror genre, with obvious hints taken from third-person shooters. For years, some fans complained about the inability to evade while shooting, so it’s nice to have that option. Not only does it make complete sense in terms of realism, but the experience becomes a lot less frustrating as a result. Of course, having the Circle Pad Pro accessory aids this cause, by adding dual-stick support. As you can surely imagine, using those to aim is a heck of a lot better than standard face button camera controls. Then again, it’s an extra $20 charge.
The majority of Revelations‘ storyline takes place on a luxury cruise ship which has seen better days. A year after a marvelous floating city was destroyed by a terrorist organization known as Veltro, and its B.O.W.s (bio-organic weapons,) Jill Valentine and her partner have been sent out to check out the dormant Queen Zenobia. After using radar to discover the ship’s mid-ocean residence, the duo quickly discover that something isn’t right. What was once a pride fleet vessel has become a partially destroyed picture of its former self, where crew members’ corpses lay in darkened rooms and monsters roam the halls. This is the Resident Evil that we know and love, folks. That particular storyline and setting allows for an experience that harkens back to the closed-in environments and dark spaces that put digital zombies on the map.
Throughout the course of this 8-10 hour-long experience, gamers will work to unravel the secret behind the seemingly forgotten ship and its floating position. This will be done through in-depth exploratory means while in control of BSAA (Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Agency) agents. You’ll be searching every inch of what is a huge liner, finding ways to progress through previously locked doors. All the while, some of the ship’s darkest secrets will come out of the shadows with a thirst for violence. This is an interesting premise, which ends up becoming a thoroughly developed and well-explained storyline by the game’s interesting finale.
Although Jill’s plight happens to be the main focus here, her efforts require the assistance of a supporting cast. Without giving too much away, you can expect to play as Chris Redfield, along with two new characters: Keith Lumley and Parker Luciani. Each character has his or her own background, weapon specialty and reason for involvement in what becomes a story which uses interesting flashbacks to explain itself. This is something that really helps out in the long run. Players will get to travel back to Tarragrigia, the destroyed city of wonder, during its time of peril. Those moments are shown through Parker’s eyes, while Keith Lumley and his movie loving sidekick (nicknamed Jackass) add comic relief as the technician duo. Their efforts are centred in the arctic, where a Veltro base had been discovered by Chris Redfield, before he was forced to abandon course.
Both Chris and Jill enter into scenarios where survival horror themes are the most notable. However, some of the secondary quests happen to have more of an action mentality. This means that more than just one or two enemies will come at the player, forcing intelligent use of survival tactics and powerful weaponry. Those segments work well within this experience, never becoming frustrating due to the change in aiming capabilities. The ability to equip three different weapons in addition to bombs/knives is especially helpful. Your list of options contains the more traditional pistol, alongside different types of shotguns and machine guns. Though, those who prefer to take things slow and steady, can use a hunting rifle and its scope. Each weapon can be upgraded using custom parts which are essentially collectibles, alongside the game’s hidden hand prints. The only ones you’re not going to need to make more powerful are turrets and the explosive rocket launcher; two mechanical devices that only appear sparingly.
Since the single player campaign focuses in on experimental bio-terrorism and its created side effects, a new side quest has been added to make players feel like they’re documenting each new type of monster they come across. Throughout the experience, quite a few different types and variations are encountered, none of which happen to be the standard zombies that we’ve become familiar with. Referred to as infected or B.O.W.s, they come in such forms as white, two-legged shambling mutants, gigantic crocodiles, rabid dogs and even an invisible type of foe. Killing one and scanning its corpse will fill a percentile meter, which doles out a free green herb when filled to 100%. Scanning environments can also turn up hidden ammunition that isn’t normally available for pick-up. Since ammo is somewhat limited to begin with, finding more with this mechanic is rewarding. Though, green herbs (which refill your health completely,) are in great supply throughout the experience. At least on normal.
There are segments of this campaign where gamers will question whether they’re playing a Resident Evil game. That statement is not meant as a negative at all. In fact, it was nice to see such a long-running franchise evolve. Now, Jill has the ability to swim, which aided the storyline. This mechanic can be used to find secret areas during a couple of points, and isn’t used a ton. Surprisingly, there were minimal control issues when it came to jumping into the water in this survival horror romp. Sure, there were a couple of times where the character would get stuck on an air vent opening and wouldn’t go up properly, but it rarely ever led to a death. The enemies are ruthless under there, though bombs can be used as a helpful ally.
When characters are knocked down or held by an enemy, the Y button must be repeatedly pressed. This mechanic is certainly nothing new, but it didn’t seem to be as precise as it could have been. There were times where repeatedly pressing the button didn’t do much, although doing a similar pattern later on would allow for a kick to said enemy’s head for a daring escape from doom. While this was a tad on the annoying side, it never became overly frustrating. This is because the development teams at Capcom and Tose did a good job of including understandable checkpoints. Not every room will have its own save point, but they’re frequent enough so players are never screwed over by a cheap death. For that reason, it was sometimes better to just die and revive with an arsenal of green herbs (the only type of medicine available,) than it was to use one.
Ranking fans will want to do their best to conserve ammunition and avoid deaths, because each episodic effort is graded on a lettered scale. There are 12 different episodes, each one with two different scenarios on average. All of them have ties to Dante’s Inferno, a poem which is tied to the included narrative and its themes. It was nice to have the content split up like this, considering that we’re talking about a portable title. However, I wish it wouldn’t have recapped past events before every single episode. It became a bit annoying during lengthy play sessions, but is not something that can be held against Revelations, as it makes sense for those who only play in short bursts. They do a good job of recapping things, which is the important part.
The best way to sum up this single player nightmare is to call it a very good amalgamation of the series’s successes, with the inclusion of some interesting new parts. Is this the best Resident Evil game yet? No. I’d still go with Resident Evil 4 or Resident Evil 2 with that distinction. However, this nautical story is an entertaining and very polished release, which Capcom should be proud of. It would have been nice if there was more to fear, because the focus on creating more of an action experience takes away from that. The ship’s atmosphere is creepy, which is upped by its labyrinthine design. If only the available maps were more in-depth, this formula would be more fun and less annoying. It’s easy to get lost at times.
Once the credits have rolled, Raid Mode is unlocked. Think of it as being a more mission-based Mercenaries structure, where the goal is almost always to get to a certain area of the campaign’s map. Points are awarded for killing all of the enemies in the map, all of which happen to level-up with your utilized character. It’s required that co-op teams (formed through local or online match-ups) start at the beginning and work their way up through a list of approximately 20 different scenarios, due to the leveling system. Those who begin on chapter five will face enemies who are four levels ahead of them.
There is a solid community of devoted gamers who have obviously spent a lot of time within this mode. For that reason, it’s never hard to find someone to play through what is a solid replay value provider. It’s fun, but not as interesting as Mercenaries. Still, compared to most additional modes in games, it’s tough to complain. You get different avatars, a much broader weapon list and tons of unlockables. The shop requires earned battle points and play coins, which can be collected through the campaign and Raid itself. Awards can also be earned for completing certain tasks.
When Nintendo officially announced its new 3DS, Resident Evil: Revelations became one of the device’s most talked-about scheduled releases. The reason for this was its beautiful-looking gameplay footage, which was a true indicator of just how great this game really looks. It’s a beautiful experience, which is full of sharp colours, realistic looking character models and detailed texture work. Anyone looking for a game to wow their friends with should give this one a test drive, because it’s a perfect fit. To say that it’s the best looking game currently available for the handheld is not something I would debate. This is very impressive stuff, with 3D visuals that add depth and make the world feel more alive than it does in standard 2D.
Technical gurus will note that there’s a bit of pixellation during cutscenes, which are used quite often. This usually occurs when there’s darkness in the background environment, although it’s tough to complain about considering the fact that this is the Nintendo 3DS as opposed to a high-definition console. The only other issue comes from occasional framerate slowdown; something that rarely occurs during gameplay. It’s mainly found during loading sections, which happen to be completed when the characters go through specific doors or ride elevators. Sure, it slows down quite a bit, but there’s a lot to load and those are understandable and intelligent times for it to happen.
Carrying that same polished tune, Revelations‘ audio is of relatively high quality. All of its sound effects are rich and boisterous, creating engaging atmosphere. For the most part, the voice cast does a good job, although there were times where lines were delivered in a rather stilted manner. Granted, one should not go into this experience hoping to find an Oscar-worthy script. Though the storyline itself is very detailed and full of interesting tidbits, its script sometimes leaves things to be desired.
Now that it’s available for all to enjoy, Resident Evil: Revelations is a shadow-filled adventure that fans of the survival horror genre should not miss. It’s polished and runs very well on the handheld, delivering an experience that is most definitely up to par with some of the series’ console releases. Series veterans will be proud to add this title to their cartridge library and/or horror collection, as it’s a very good release that retails for an affordable price. Keep in mind, however, that the Circle Pad Pro is recommended for the optimal gameplay experience.
This review is based on a copy of the game that was provided to us for review purposes.
Resident Evil: Revelations is a polished and well-made survival horror experience that fans of the genre will really enjoy.