Resident Evil: Revelations Review
Resident Evil fans are a passionate group. And after the controversial Resident Evil 6, which pitted ardent veteran followers against those who defended the new look and style, the atmosphere is incendiary. Capcom must tread carefully when it comes to the seventh official iteration in the revered franchise. In the meantime, we’ve got a few spin-offs that can be hit or miss; Resident Evil: Revelations was one of those that fared well on the Nintendo 3DS. Now, it has made a surprising leap to high-definition home consoles and you know, it works.
As you would expect, everything has been updated from a visual standpoint. Cut-scenes have been completely overhauled, textures have been improved, and character modeling is much sharper and more detailed. The enemies are appropriately ferocious and the environment is excellent. As we’re on an infected cruise liner, there are plenty of narrow corridors, but the artists do a good job of providing us with plenty of environmental variety. The only downside involves those textures, which, while definitely upgraded, are still a little muddy in some areas. Unfortunately, they kinda remind you that this is indeed a handheld port.
That being said, there’s no doubt that the revamped graphics are a triumph. They work to give long-time fans a recognizable and immersive horror experience, and the audio plays an important role as well. The creepy ambient effects that have always contributed to the player’s feeling of fear are a highlight. The voice performances are still a little spotty in my opinion, and I’m still convinced Capcom isn’t using top talent for such gigs. But besides that, the sound enhances our immersion by giving us a haunting, effective soundtrack, and chilling and occasionally nasty special effects. Make sure to play in a darkened room with the volume up!
First and foremost, let’s discuss the control. The 3DS allowed you to use the portable’s Circle Pad Pro peripheral for easier overall movement, but there’s no doubt that a standard console controller is superior. The best part is that fans can choose between Classic and Shooter control schemes; the former is exactly what the die-hard followers might embrace, while the Shooter mechanic greatly boosts the accessibility and fluidity of combat. Then we get a few new weapons (which can be upgraded, unlike in the 3DS version), a new enemy, and a new difficulty that will test the mettle of even the most skilled players. Fair warning- it's a big-time hair-puller.
The weapon customization is a great addition to the gameplay, as it adds depth and flavor. Combat itself feels just about right for a Resident Evil adventure, and that’s critical for the fans. In short, regarding the basic movement and combat system, I know it worked fine on the 3DS with the Circle Pad Pro attachment. But in reality, I think this game was always meant for consoles and in fact, in a lot of ways, hearkens back to the good ol’ days of RE4. I wanted to address this crucial element of the game before talking about the story primarily because the control is a very common topic of conversation and debate among series followers.
Much of your thrilling, suspense-laden quest will take place on a huge luxury liner that seems almost too gigantic to be realistic. But hey, why are we talking about reality when this particular ship – named the Queen Zenobia – suffers from a mass viral outbreak? It’s not the flu; RE fans are quite familiar with this type of outbreak, which results in all sorts of grossness. The enemy designs are top-notch and the pacing is really good, which means we’re always moving with a combined sense of tension and urgency. If you missed that feeling in RE6, you’ll find it here in spades. That’s a testament to the game’s slightly old-school style, if you hadn’t guessed.
Even with that Shooter mechanic, it still feels more like an older series installment and of course, that’s a good thing. At least, that’s what a great many fans will think. And although I mentioned it above, I must repeat— environmental variety is a definite plus and kinda surprising; it’s quite impressive what the designers managed to do with the Queen Zenobia. You’ll quickly jump over to an outdoor mountain backdrop during your adventure, too, and that further bolsters the general diversity. As for the story, it isn’t anything too special, but at least it has plenty of drama and fitting emotion. Besides, Jill Valentine is a fan favorite.
Jill and her partner Parker Luciani are out to locate Chris Redfield and his partner, Jessica Sherawat. During the course of your adventure, you’ll play as multiple characters, although I have to admit I would’ve been fine controlling Jill the whole time. As I said, the plot isn’t exactly riveting but it does have its moments, and the writing isn’t bad at all. It’s just a little subpar in my estimation, and we could’ve used more in the way of character development. Still, focusing on the gameplay and atmosphere is a good move for this series, so one shouldn’t complain. With classic themes and sensations vividly portrayed, avid RE followers will appreciate the solid gameplay and pacing that always keeps us involved.
That new difficulty mode is pretty punishing, too. Infernal difficulty amps up the number of enemies and rearranges item locations. That last part is a dirty trick but at least you get to keep your upgraded weapons after completing the game on Normal difficulty; trust me, without those, I’m not sure Infernal is possible. If you’d rather try the two-player co-op mode, which isn’t anywhere near as difficult but more satisfying in other ways, go for it. It seems to work very well. Overall, this is clearly the definitive version of the game in question, even if the transition between 3DS and consoles isn’t exactly perfect.
Resident Evil: Revelations is engrossing and legitimately frightening. The important control option, coupled with the drastically upgraded graphics and excellent atmosphere, makes this a very playable experience. The pacing is good, the story has a few memorable highlights, your foes are fittingly insane, and the audio and visual presentation significantly increases one’s appreciation of the environment. There are a few lingering texture issues, I would’ve liked to have seen another level or new area of some sort (the new enemy is unremarkable), and more could’ve been done with the characters. But aside from that, Revelations is a must-try for RE fans.
The Good: Accomplished high-definition upgrade. Great ambient sound. Basic control option a huge plus. Excellent atmosphere and good level design. Solid pacing and overall gameplay. Appropriately freaky.
The Bad: A few muddy, murky textures. Voice acting is hit or miss. Not enough done with the story and character development.
The Ugly: “Ugly-ass monsters are the norm…and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
5/20/2013 Ben Dutka