Many argue that, in recent years, Capcom has lost its hold over its flagship survival horror franchise when it abandoned the core mechanics that defined the series and turned Resident Evil into pale imitation of the generic games that follow the third-person action genre fad.
Resident Evil Revelations tries to correct the mistakes made with numbered titles in the series and aims to bring the original survival horror flavor back into a series that has come to rely on shootouts and set pieces to define itself.
Thankfully, Revelations is successful in bringing glory back to the much lambasted Resident Evil franchise and once again prioritizes survival over action to bring back the feel of the original games that built the franchise.
Originally released early last year, Resident Evil Revelations was the star of 3DS library in console’s first year of existence. So much so that it was the only must have 3rd party title on Nintendo’s then-fledgling handheld system and was one of few titles that kept the system afloat in its darkest times.
After more than year’s wait, the HD version brings the game to PC, and the home consoles; upping the visual fidelity while maintaining the gameplay that garnered the original 3DS title the critical and commercial acclaim.
Resident Evil Revelations returns to the survival horror gameplay of the earlier Resident Evil installations and moves away from constant action of Resident Evil 5 and 6.
The game accomplishes this feat by bringing back elements such as limited supply of ammunition, which leads players to scavenging for bullets and running away from enemies to conserve ammunition. This leads to more emphasis on exploration than disposing off the enemies.
However, the process of monster disposal is not left off the table. Players are given the option to wield a variety of weapons through the game. Ranging from handguns and rifles to shotguns and machine guns, players are not only able to collect them but also customize and upgrade them through a slew of modifiers that can be found with some exploration.
The game does not go overboard with the process of empowering the player with weapons, as each character is limited in their ability to wield only three weapons at a time. This process of selection is made easier by a simplified inventory system which is far less convoluted than the ones from the previous Resident Evil games.
Though all is not as it was in the earlier Resident Evil games, the over the shoulder camera returns and in addition to that, the players can move while aiming in first and third person. This really helps during the encounters in narrow corridors and cluttered rooms.
Revelations also retains the, RE5 and 6, aspect of giving player an accompanying partner in every mission. While never a burden, these partners are not much help on the battlefield as results of all encounters are determined by the player. While this might be a deliberate attempt to keep the survival aspect of the game, this does however make the AI partners useless in almost all situations.
Moreover, the process of exploration is aided by the new scanning system, which is accomplished by a device called ‘Genesis’, with the help of which, the players can scan areas, a la Metroid Prime, to discover health, ammo and upgrades.
The navigation process is further facilitated by onscreen map in the upper right-hand corner, which updates in real time and identifies previously encountered locked doors as red.
These changes, however, do not change the fact that most of the game is spent in corridors, rooms and other constrained areas pitting the player against hordes of foes, forcing them to shoot, run and explore, and in Resident Evil tradition; backtrack to previously traveled areas.
The game also allows players to choose between two sets of control settings, one designed to mimic shooter camera/movement controls and the other offer the tank-like movement of the original Resident Evil games. While both settings work well in most of the game, the swimming controls can get clunky in most situations.
This turns out to be of greater concern than it was in the previous games because most of Resident Evil Revelations is set in a ship named Queen Zenobia.
While the game begins with the team of Jill Valentine and Parker Luciani, Revelations’ story features nonlinear story telling mechanic that cuts back and forth between past and present, mostly through the eyes of three sets of two man teams; one’s missions usually focus on survival/exploration, other on action and the third team is a comedy act.
This thematic divide is segmented across different chapters, which make the transition abrupt and jarring instead of the action, exploration, horror and comedy being seamlessly connected.
Thankfully, by the closing hours of the game, Revelations manages to offer control over four different characters and mix up the teams thereby giving a more organic mix of survival and action gameplay.
Though there is no need to worry; the focus of the narrative is firmly on the survival horror side. And while the story is deliberately paced like the original Resident Evil trilogy, the game’s tale is not a convoluted mess like Resident Evil 5 and 6.
While Resident Evil Revelations references events of the past games, it features a stand-alone story much like one from Resident Evil 4. Therefore, the game does not require knowledge of prior games in the series and is a perfect jumping point for a Resident Evil virgin.
However, the story itself is neatly divided into episodes and chapters, with each episode featuring a recap of prior event at its start as well as anytime the player revisits the game. This is indicative of the fact the game was originally designed for a portable console and was meant to be played in short bursts rather than a long continuous playthrough.
The game’s portable lineage also rears its head in the visual department.
While Revelations’ graphics have been buffed with an HD sheen there are several areas where bland and dated textures rear their ugly heads all too often. There is also a severe case of jaggies associated with character shadows.
That does not mean that the game’s visuals are in any way bad. Resident Evil Revelations looks far better than most of the other HD re-releases in the market but since the game looked stunning on 3DS it loses some of its visual splendor when compared with other games in the home console market.
However, Revelations does not lose a beat in the audio department in its transition to the big screen. The game features and strong and ambient soundtrack which complements the gameplay according to the situation the player is placed in.
The game also does well in the sound effect department as each grunt, scream, howl, shot and explosion is clear, distinct and forceful.
The voice actors also put a commendable effort however their prowess is burdened by the nature of the dialogues themselves which is filled to the brim with camp and cheesiness.
However, this is nothing new for the series and is one aspect of the game where the flaw serves to define connection with the franchise itself.
In addition to the 9-11 hour main campaign and a “Raid Mode” where two players can partake in co-operative hoard style missions, earning greater scores as the game increases its difficulty after each wave of enemies, the HD version of Resident Evil Revelations offers more unlockable characters for the Raid Mode as well as an “Infernal” difficulty setting that remixes enemy and item locations in the main story mode.
Resident Evil Revelations is a must play game for any fan of old Resident Evil games or the survival horror genre, the question is whether to play the original 3DS version or the HD one?
The answer to that depends on the preference of the player. Revelations was originally designed for portable play, so its game structure actually suits and benefits that kind of play. However, if the small screen is a turnoff or limits one’s immersion in the game, then HD version is the way to go.
A solid return to the survival horror roots of the Resident Evil franchise, featuring a mix of exploration, action and puzzles with a welcome focus on survival aspect of the game.
While the game looks beautiful in some places, the HD makeover is not consistent where consistently appearing low res textures mar this port of the game.
Great soundtrack and crisp sound effects really add to the atmosphere and highlight the survival horror aspect of Revelations.
While the episodic chapters suit a portable title, their presence detracts from the experience in its console port. The excess of cheesy dialogue also holds it back from greatness.
A 10 hour campaign, with hidden secrets and upgrades to uncover, multitude of difficulty settings and a multiplayer Raid Mode section with several weapons, characters and outfits to unlock, Revelations a fair amount of content for $50.
Resident Evil Revelations is great game and a must play for any fan of the old Resident Evil games, however whether the HD port is worth your while depends on if you prefer to play your survival horror on big screen or experience it in short bursts on the 3DS.
There is not much difference between the original and the HD port to endorse purchase of both.