Genre: Action / Survival Horror
Reviewer: George Damidas
Overall: 8 = Excellent
Resident Evil: Revelations holds the unique distinction of being the first in the series to debut on a handheld and then be ported to consoles and PC. Originally released in 2012 for the 3DS, Revelations found a warm welcome among fans new and old alike with its combination of traditional investigative elements and fast-paced combat. Now, after being updated with new content and improved visuals, console gamers get a chance to experience Chris and Jill’s latest adventures for themselves.
Revelations is an in-between title, one of those games set in an expanded universe that helps to flesh out plot elements introduced in the major releases. In this case, the events covered in Revelations bridge the gap between Resident Evil 4 and 5. Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance agents Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are joined by Federal Bioterrorism Commission agents Parker Luciani and Jessica Sherawat in an extensive investigation that centers on the T-Abyss virus, the terrorist organization Veltro, and the destruction of the floating city Terragrigia. Harkening back to the series’ original mixture of investigation and puzzle-solving, players will have to gather evidence and track down leads to piece together the how’s and why’s as they play through the events in non-chronological sequence. As with all Resident Evil titles, players can expect numerous grotesque, dim-witted monsters; plot twists aplenty; and of course, some ridiculously cheesy dialogue.
The story sees the agencies swapping partners, with Jill and Parker investigating the SS Queen Zenobia, an old cruise liner repurposed into a mobile base by Veltro, and Chris and Jessica attempting to save a pair of distressed agents: Jill and Parker. Initially, the game is as confusing as that summary, as the player only experiences portions of each storyline before jumping to another. In addition to those plot threads, there are two more that crop up throughout the game: the misadventures of Quint Cetcham and Keith Lumley, two wisecracking BSAA agents on a side mission assisting Chris, and another set a year prior during the Terragrigia Panic, as Parker attempts to evacuate the city. This unconventional approach works in large part because of the game’s episodic nature, which breaks the game up into bite-sized chunks. The story consists of 12 episodes comprised of up to three segments that can last anywhere from two to 40 minutes. Each episode begins with a ‘Previously On …’ that neatly summarizes the events leading up to that point, a la Alan Wake, which does a great job keeping the time-jumping, character-swapping plot coherent.
The investigative elements drop off as the game progresses, which is a little disappointing. However, it’s around that time the various plot points begin to converge and coalesce into a central point from which the story progresses to the finale. The jump drives, journals, and research notes that propelled the story previously give way to the momentum that had been building with each discovery and allow it to carry the game through the last act. Up until that point, though, the game does a good job of cribbing the better elements of earlier Resident Evil titles by offering similar but refashioned puzzles—it’s more about finding and switching levers than putting medals in the right order—and leaving breadcrumbs that flesh out and advance the plot.
In terms of combat, Revelations strikes a unique tone. If Operation Raccoon City can be seen as the series taking the action-heavy focus introduced in RE4 to its extreme, then Revelations is an attempt to rein the series back in to create a new formula that offers a more balanced combination of old and new. On the Resident Evil spectrum, it lies somewhere between Code Veronica and RE4: faster and louder than the former but more survival-horror-styled than the latter. This isn’t to say that diehard survival horror fans will find the same slow-paced, atmosphere-heavy offering they’ve been craving, but it’s a step in that direction. The tempo of combat is much brisker than in the earlier releases, but the lack of a run button or the ability to utilize cover keeps it more in line with past titles than the more contemporary system found in ORC. The approach is far from perfect, but it’s off to a good start and its potential bodes well for the future of the series.
Among the signature elements reintroduced is a lack of ammunition. Although, again, it’s not as dire as before, when very single bullet counted, but it is scarcer than in more recent entries and acts as a further check against reckless blast-everything behavior. Relying solely on the boxes of ammo scattered around the various locales will require falling back on the character’s knives far too much. A dodge mechanic helps to evade attacking enemies, but it’s slightly sluggish and can be difficult to engage in time due to a tight behind-the-shoulder view that obfuscates approaching enemies and those waiting in ambush. The questionable reliability of dodging makes using the knife a dangerous option. Hit detection can also be spotty at times, with shots seemingly going through enemies at times and not affecting them at others, which invariably leads to wastage. The only way to ensure an adequate ammo count is to scan each area using a new hand scanner. The scanner can be used to scan monsters to gather intel, which nets a free health item each time the research bar maxes out; reveal hidden items, such as herbs and ammo; and reveal handprints, which unlock new weapons. Scanning is important in terms of combat, and serves as yet another mechanism to throttle players back, but it’s also surprisingly ancillary from a story perspective given its prominence. This design realignment—less ammo, slower pace—allows for the game to recreate the sort of tense atmosphere found in the originals. There is also plenty of backtracking, which results in increasingly fewer creepy moments as the game goes on, but it was nice to find the survival horror aspect reasserting itself.
The story took a little under nine hours to complete, and that was with heavy scanning. The new Infernal Mode difficulty adds increased difficulty and moves items around for the masochist, but I found the initial playthrough satisfying enough. But Revelations has more to offer than just replaying the story as a New Game + or on a harder difficulty, and that is the highly addictive Raid Mode.
It’s not necessary to play through the story first, but it is recommended, as 20 (plus a bonus) Raid Mode levels are gradually unlocked as the story progresses. The two modes are further tied together by the graded reviews given after each episode, which awards BPs based on performance. These are points that are used in Raid Mode to purchase weapons, weapon mods, and items from an in-game shop. The items are used by characters as they fight their way through portions of the story levels in arcade-style action sequences. These missions are also graded on performance (e.g., damage taken, accuracy, enemies killed) that lead to character experience, as well as more BPs, which are in addition to any accumulated from the sale of looted gear. After enough experience has been earned, the player’s character gains a level and unlocks more powerful items from the shop.
The mode is overflowing with replayability. Not only are the shop items random, meaning a rare find can suddenly pop up out of nowhere, but finding especially rare items can unlock new costumes. Each character in the initial roster—Jill, Chris, Parker, Keith, Quint, Raymond, and Rachael—has special item-related bonuses, designated as a Mastery, and their alternate costumes increase and decrease these perks. For example, Jill is proficient with pistols (Handgun Mastery) and machine guns (Machine Gun Mastery), which allows her to reload and fire both weapon types faster. After finding a rare item, I unlocked an alternate costume that further increased her pistol mastery stat perks but lowered those for the machine gun. Each run is given a letter grade, and each stage has a handful of associated achievements. If I wasn’t replaying stages for better gear, then it was simply to improve my performance. Replaying areas attempting to get an S ranking and attain all achievements also had the additional benefit of scoring even more experience and loot. It’s a cycle that repeats for each character. The areas can also be played alongside another player via system link or online, which is a great co-op experience. As with the Mercenaries, Capcom proves that they can make one hell of a mini-game.
Resident Evil: Revelations is a solid entry into the series. As a port, it held up well in some areas (character models) and not so well in others (blurry textures), but the core of the game made the transition intact. Fans who don’t own a 3DS and want a little of what is and some of what was should do themselves a favor and check out Revelations.
(This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher.)