Resident Evil: Revelations – Review
Rather like the creatures that populate it, the Resident Evil series just keeps on coming back. One might not have suspected that it would return to home consoles so soon after the sixth major instalment graced us with its epically long campaign and plethora of multiplayer modes, but Capcom were apparently so proud of their 3DS venture, Resident Evil: Revelations, that they saw fit to give the whole game an HD makeover and bring it to PCs and consoles.
Set between the fourth and fifth major releases, Revelations follows series staples Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, along with a plethora of new faces, as they embark on a quest to prevent yet another strain of the deadly T-Virus from infecting the world. It’s your typical Resident Evil fare, but the plot is actually pretty solid, and there are plenty of twists and turns throughout to keep things interesting. The game is now presented in a TV show style, separating the levels into episodes and scenes, and every time you load up your game there’s a “previously on” catch-up just in case you lose the plot.
In terms of gameplay, Revelations feels almost like a dumbed-down version of the series formula, but that’s by no means a complaint – it actually works in the game’s favour. There is an inventory system, but there’s no need to move items around to make space. Gone is the need to combine herbs, as green herbs now fully heal you. There’s also no health bar, with your health being represented by the screen progressively getting redder and your character clutching at their stomach when things are getting critical, but the trade-off is that the number of herbs in your inventory is permanently displayed on screen, with the player only needing to tap Y to fully heal if they ever feel like they’re about to die. It’s wonderfully simple, so newbies to the series can pick it up with ease and veteran fans can take a break from inventory management for once and get some killing done.
The controls are mostly the same as in Resi 6 – you can move and shoot at the same time, and quick turning is still a useful tool you’ll be employing constantly. Sadly, however, running has completely disappeared, replaced instead with your character moving marginally faster than in previous instalments. Not having a button to make you run faster is sometimes a nuisance, particularly when you’re backed up in a tight corridor (as you so often are), so to replace it Capcom have introduced dodging. If you move and press A just before an enemy lands an attack, you dodge out of the way of the attack and don’t take any damage. It’s a good system in theory, but more often than not I found myself randomly dodging without any input, and when I actually tried to dodge at the right time I would often just get a face full of pain. I imagine that if you can get the timing down then it would be an incredibly useful tool but, personally, I found dodging far too finicky, and stuck to brute force and carrying a lot of herbs instead.
There are plenty of enemies thrown your way to keep things interesting, so you’ll at least be able to alleviate any concerns regarding the repetitive surroundings by shooting a bunch of creatures. That said, ammo is relatively scarce in this game, particularly early on when even the basic enemies take a full clip from your pistol to dispatch. To that end, you are actually encouraged to simply run away from conflict, which isn’t actually a horrendous idea given the bosses you encounter.
If you want to find more ammo, you’ll have to make use of the new “Genesis” device. This nifty tool puts you into a first-person perspective, and allows you to sweep rooms for hidden ammo and herbs, as well as hunt down the handprints scattered about the levels that serve as the game’s collectibles. You can also scan enemies, and their melted remains, in order to build up a percentage bar and earn yourself another herb. Annoyingly, the Genesis doesn’t actually add anything new or interesting to the game, and is only used to any serious degree in a puzzle quite late on in the campaign involving invisible lasers. More annoyingly, given the need for ammo, you’ll spend nearly a third of your time wandering round in first-person view, slowly combing over every corner of the room, unable to fight or move any faster than a steady walk, so you quickly fall into a routine of clearing the room of enemies, scanning, picking up ammo, and then moving to the next room. It doesn’t break up the action, so much as intrude on it, and after a while you’ll wonder why they bothered making you swap to the first person view when they could’ve just put the items in plain view. It’s an interesting idea, but is underused to the point of near uselessness.
Having a large stock of ammo isn’t the only way to make sure you can deal with enemies however, as you are able to upgrade your weapons with a variety of parts to beef up the gun’s stats. Gone is the money system of recent games, hence why running away from enemies is a totally legitimate option since they no longer drop items on death, and, instead, gun parts are found lying around, with better parts hidden behind doors that require backtracking to with a certain key, or by using the Genesis device to pick them out. You must then head to a weapon box, where you can swap out your weapons and fit them with new parts.
You can only carry three weapons at a time, but any that you’re not carrying can be picked up from any of the weapon boxes throughout the game. This means that if you want to pick up a new weapon when you’re already at your limit, the one you leave behind can be picked up again. The buffs you can give to your weapon range from extra damage to larger clips, and can increase the chance of enemies being left dazed and open to physical attacks, triggered by pressing the A button while stood next to them. It’s a neat little system, and is definitely a big help when facing off against the bigger and badder enemies that you’ll come across later in the game.
That said, there aren’t actually a whole lot of enemies on show, and I don’t think they’re ever referred to with a name. I remember Hunters, the green scaly lizard-type enemies you’ll encounter huge numbers of, but, beyond that, most of the enemies are just variants on a weird slimy grey creature you encounter within the first ten minutes. There are also a couple of foes that are simply too irritating to really be considered worthwhile – one creature in particular will charge you from nowhere, cannot be slowed down, and if it grabs onto you can kill you in one hit, with no discernible means of escape. It has a fairly low amount of health, and can be taken out with a single grenade or magnum blast, but if you’re running low on ammo or grenades then you’re pretty screwed.
The bosses are also pretty infuriating, not least because you face off against about four of them throughout the entire game, and the majority of them will be seen again later on. In particular, one boss that takes up the entirety of a scene and is fought in a series of tight, winding corridors will then take up residence in a location you’re required to go through twice more, and remains as powerful and annoying as it was the first time. There’s also the fact that one of the last bosses is just an on-rails turret battle that feels like it carries on for an eternity, and requires no strategy other than holding down the trigger. For a series that usually has a great selection of interesting bosses that require you to consider your surroundings and use what’s around you to your advantage, it’s annoying that Revelations makes you wait until the last boss before asking you to think of a tactic other than “fill it full of bullets”, particularly when ammo is pretty scarce to begin with.
As one might expect, given the setting of an abandoned ship in the middle of the sea, there are times when you’ll need to go diving to progress. The swimming controls are actually quite smooth, and you’re never asked to engage in underwater gunfights, so the underwater sections are enjoyable breaks between the gunning action where the only threats can be easily avoided. The swimming sections fit in well with the game’s environment, and are never intrusive or annoying, and, better still, there’s only a handful of them to deal with before you’re back on dry land.
The campaign isn’t the only thing on offer, which is good since it won’t last you long; I clocked in a final time of around five and a half hours, although, including continues, that number probably hits around the seven hour mark. If you’re still dying for more, however, there’s Raid mode. Raid mode is actually a completely different beast to the campaign – you replay the levels with the twist that they are filled with enemies and you’re encouraged to kill them all in order to level up and earn points to spend on new weapons, upgrades and refilling your ammo. You can choose between a variety of characters, each with their own specialities and different costumes; for example, playing as Jill gives you boosts to your pistol damage and reloading speed. The weapons you buy can also give boosts to your skills, such as making you move faster or reload quicker.
Each level throws higher level enemies your way, so you’ll spend a lot of time grinding on the same few levels before progressing, unless you want to get destroyed in seconds and waste all your ammo and herbs. The enemies also appear with a variety of different buffs to them, including mini-foes that move much faster, and giant enemies that soak up bullets, but give rarer drops, such as a new weapon or a lot of ammo. There’s no change-up in the buffs however, so you’ll always be fighting the same waves of enemies no matter what, which is good because you can work out the waves and plan accordingly for each mission, but annoying because you will always be fighting the same things, no matter what. Raid mode is good fun, but it can get somewhat repetitive if you play for too long.
Raid mode is also the only way you can play with a friend, but that’s no bad thing. The lack of co-op partner in the campaign is actually quite refreshing, and even though you do have an AI teammate throughout most of the missions, they never get in the way or need any help from you and, instead, are quite happy just to stand back and shoot enemies. Playing online is actually pretty fun, but totally non-essential – Raid is just as good by yourself, but if you’ve got a buddy and want to storm through a level full of creatures together, then it’s worth a look. With strangers, however, it’s a little awkward, and if they’re not very good or piss about too much, it’ll negatively impact your overall rank, and that’s really annoying.
Graphically, Revelations is kind of an odd one. It’s hard not to be a little disappointed that it isn’t absolutely stunning, as RE6 was, but when you consider that it’s a beefed up version of a 3DS game, it’s actually pretty impressive. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t look bad – the environments are well put together and wonderfully creepy, invoking a constant fear of what may be around the next corner, and the monsters themselves are beautifully grotesque, but the models are sometimes noticeably blocky and often a little cartoonish, which doesn’t gel with the serious nature of the game. Overall it’s not a bad looking title, and a mighty good HD beautifying of a handheld release, but don’t come into it expecting the sharpness of more recent console entries.
The audio work throughout is wonderful. The soundtrack mixes up creepy tones with a grand orchestral score depending on your location, and the music always fits the mood. There’s even a bit of funky guitar during one section with the game’s two comic relief characters, the appropriately named Jackass and Grinder. The voice acting can sometimes be a bit stale, but it’s intermixed with some genuinely amusing lines from characters that actually have some personality to them, and aren’t just the one-dimensional planks of wood Chris became in the sixth game. New characters like Jessica and Parker interject some much needed dry wit and derision to proceedings, as well as pointing out flaws in plans and just generally being a bit snarky. The delivery of the dialogue is often a tad forced however, and there are clearly some lines that just didn’t translate well into English, as well as some bits of dialogue that awkwardly crowbar plot exposition in for no real reason. All in all, the voice acting is passable, but it can sometimes be a little clumsy.
At the end of the day, Resident Evil: Revelations isn’t going to blow you away. It’s a short and sweet campaign with a few new ideas, some of which work better than others, alongside an addictive but repetitive arcade style mode that could be fun for a few hours with a friend. The graphics are good but not great and the audio is much the same. It’s quite definitely a good fun game, but it’s not much more than that. And that’s by no means a bad thing. If you’re looking for a survival-horror fix, then Revelations will not disappoint.Pros
- Interesting plot, with plenty of twists and turns
- Simpler game design is good for new players, but should still feel familiar to veterans
- Characters have plenty of personality
- Raid mode is damn good fun
- The Genesis device is effectively kind of pointless
- No button to run, and dodging is very finicky
- Voice acting can be a bit wooden
- Raid mode can get seriously repetitive very quickly
If you’ve never played a Resident Evil game before, then Revelations is the perfect jumping in point. It takes all the good parts about the recent games, removes most of the complex inventory mechanics and provides an exciting and interesting plot with a great cast of believable characters. But it’s not without its problems, in particular the lack of running, the hard to use dodging mechanics, and its overall repetitiveness. It’s a good fun game that’ll last you a couple of afternoons, but if you’re looking for a more involved survival-horror, this may not be for you.
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