For those unaware, Resident Evil: Revelations is actually a HD adaption of a game that was originally released on the 3DS early last year, and to a fairly good reception considering the series recent track record. It was for this reason that Capcom decided to enhance the visuals and gameplay, and also bring it the Xbox 360, PS3 & Wii U. Do I personally think this was just another cash in from the Publisher? No, actually. In fact, I have to admit that I’ve been fairly impressed with Capcom recently, which you will see reflected in my reviews for DmC: Devil May Cry & Dragon’s Dogma. Looking at the final product, it’s certainly clear that this is a port, but having played through a demo of the 3DS version prior to this review, it’s also clear that a lot of design tweaks and improvements have been implemented. The effort is there but is this a quality survival horror experience? That much is yet to be seen.
Resident Evil: Revelations takes place in between Resident Evil 4 & Resident Evil 5, focusing on a series of events that happened shortly after the BSAA counter-terrorism group we know from Resident Evil 5 had been formed. The game will re-introduce players to Jill Valentine & Chris Redfield, the original protagonists of Resident Evil as well as a cast of characters, new and familiar. The narrative of the game continues on from a flash back of the destruction of Terragrigia, also known as the “floating city”. One year past, a bioterrorism group known as II Veltro unleashed a bio-organic weapon on the city in protest of solar energy development. This forced to the Federal Bioterrorism Commission to contain the outbreak by destroying the city via a satellite based weapon in space.
Naturally, this is why the game is subtitled with the tagline “Revelations” as there is clearly more to this incident than what was reported back to the BSAA. The game will begin with Jill and her partner Parker out in search for Chris and his partner Jessica, both of whom have been reported as missing in action. The duo’s investigation quickly leads them out to the middle of the Ocean to explore the SS Queen Zenobia, a luxury cruise ship that has unfortunately been infected with the deadly T-Abyss virus. I’m sorry Jill, but your ex-partner is on another ship! It appears this was all just a setup, and it will now be the player’s mission to discover how the events on this ship tie into the tragedy of Terragrigia. It’s a conspiracy that should hopefully keep most fans enthralled until the end!
Having returned to the series after having last played Resident Evil 5, it was refreshing to see the game was taking a much slower approach. I would be hard pressed to describe the experience as an absolute survival horror, but it is definitely a good blend of old and new that takes the series in a positive direction. Revelations re-introduces limited ammo, the iconic green herbs, and a weapon customisation system which actually works quite well to keep things feeling fresh. It’s important to note that whilst the action plays out gradually, you can now move and shoot at the same time, which alleviates a frustrating limitation that I experienced playing the previous installments. Another major reform is the return of puzzles, and whilst they’re not exactly worth writing home about, their inclusion is an essential design choice that I personally feel is vital in restoring the great potential of the series.
Another system which we found quite entertaining was the Genesis scanning device, which allows the player to scan for hidden items, secret collectables, as well as to obtain samples from B.O.W’s that will accumulate and convert into health packs. During your experiences on the Queen Zenobia you will quickly come to know the ship inside and out, and this is quite fortunate as the map of the ship is woeful at best. The game does a lot to encourage player exploration, and it’s great that there are no obtrusive mission waypoints to break the player’s immersion. It’s also fantastic to see the return of classic design elements such as collectable notes for the player to delve deeper into the narrative, which I personally felt added a certain degree of nostalgia to the playthrough.
It’s important to note that there are no revolutionary design mechanics present in Revelations, but merely a great mix of what’s come before, combined with the positive elements of newer entries into the series. It’s a game that has played us well on a nostalgia factor, but will quickly see the series falling flat on it’s face again if the developers don’t innovate from this potential new starting point. I’m happy with this design direction if this is any indication of a possible reboot to the core series, but we’re not looking at the greatest survival horror game in years, just the best Resident Evil. It’s a hopeful beacon of renewed hope but still leaves the series future unclear at best.
Let’s be absolutely direct. The gameplay featured in this edition of Resident Evil: Revelations has been adapted from the mechanics of a handheld game, and follows proudly in the essence of the Resident Evil games made famous in the 90s. The player’s control versatility will suit many of the slower gameplay scenarios just fine, but once the action ramps up within the fantastic, yet equally frustrating boss fights, players will experience how wooden the characters actually feel. I personally think it is only because of nostalgia that this aspect of the game strangely passes off as acceptable. However, there is no excusing the abysmal AI controlled partners that always accompanies you throughout the game. I would often catch them just staring at the ground when I needed them the most, and for some reason their bullets would mysteriously do a lot less damage than mine. Disappointing.
With that being said, another design decision that has been implemented well within the game is the variety of characters you will be able to control throughout the experience. This doesn’t actually alter your playstyle which is slightly disappointing, but it does help to keep things interesting when investigating the conspiracy from a lot of different perspectives. Ultimately, we have to recognise that this game is a handheld port, and whilst we were always anticipating controllability issues, I have to admit that it transitioned to the console a lot better than initially expected. I also found the boss fights to be quite exhilarating, albeit delivered with a steep difficultly curve. The controls can still be competent at times, but you will also need to be equally prepared for frustration as well.
We’ve already covered on several occasions that this is a HD adaption of a handheld game, so I’ll briefly comment on the graphics by saying that the game looks remarkably good considering. It’s not technically outstanding, but it still comes across fairly well considering. The visual design in Revelations is a lot more classic in style as are the various locations explored within the game. It’s primarily set on a cruise ship, but there are many areas that resemble the mansion of the original game, and I thought that was a really nice touch. The enemies you encounter in the game are well designed but repetitive, and you can expect to see a lot more of the same as you progress through the various chapters. However, one aspect that deserves recognition is the soundtrack as I personally found it very nostalgic, and consistently appreciated it throughout the experience. Although, I can’t say the same thing for the voice acting, which in my opinion is tolerable at best, and delivered with terrible lip syncing.
Resident Evil: Revelations was one of the more successful 3DS games to launch in 2012, and was also critically praised as one of the best Resident Evil games to be released in many years. It was with this in mind that Capcom made the decision to adapt the game for the console as well, and for the most part we think this was actually a smart decision, and not just a quick cash in from the Publisher. It’s no secret that the series has been in dire straits these past couple of years when reflecting on the controversial 6th installment, and the poorly received Operation Racoon City spin-off. If anything this game shows a renewed potential for the series, despite feeling outdated.
This is a game that successfully synergises a lot of old and new mechanics that function very well together, and equally provide a fantastic sense of nostalgia to the player. It is for this reason that a few outdated systems and clunky controls actually come away as surprisingly okay as this genuinely feels like a Resident Evil game. It’s certainly not the best in the series, but it’s absolutely a step in the right direction. I should acknowledge that there is a horde style multiplayer mode included, but it’s really not a selling point. I just honestly hope that Capcom can see what makes this game successful in spite of it’s problems, and then uses that knowledge reboot the series into something the fans want to play. Following the direction of the last two core installments will fail, and producing another game that feeds on nostalgia will also fail. Take note, this could be a new beginning for Resident Evil.
Note: This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game, and provided to us via the Australian distributor for Capcom.