Having been made available last year as a Nintendo 3DS exclusive release, Resident Evil: Revelations was at first a surprising announcement for the next high-definition (HD) title from the franchise. After 2012’s barrage of new additions to the series and brand new sidelines, 2013 needs to change the game somewhat if Capcom wish to keep interest in Resident Evil from waning, and so how better than to bring the masses the most acclaimed title the franchise has offered in several years?
While the Nintendo 3DS may well have been picking up steam over the last six months, at the time of Resident Evil: Revelations’ debut it was still considered by many to be underperforming, and as such the audience for the videogame can only have suffered. With a videogame already designed, a recipient of substantial praise and a lessened audience due to it’s host format, who would condemn Capcom for making the shrewd business decision of bringing the title to far greater established consoles? Not Electronic Theatre, that’s for sure. And rightly so, as Resident Evil: Revelations is just as enjoyable here on home console as it was on the Nintendo 3DS.
Resident Evil: Revelations offers the core Resident Evil audience exactly what they’ve been demanding. Resident Evil 4 proposed a new, more immediate rendition of the Resident Evil that is undoubtedly the series’ highlight. In recent years however, that new, linear experience has been pushed to its extreme, with Resident Evil 5 opting for action over suspense and Resident Evil 6 considered to be a half-baked attempt at pleasing both audiences. Many have suggested that Resident Evil: Revelations is a return to a time before Resident Evil 4, and while the setting does reminisce of the lock-and-key structure of Spencer Mansion, it does still draw more closely to a modern videogame; crafted to be completed rather than to challenge.
That setting is the HMS Queen Zenobia, a seemingly abandoned ocean liner which was the last known location lf two BSAA heroes. Playing as Jill Valentine, you board the ship and search for your colleagues in the hope of solving a conspiracy of global proportion. New Resident Evil, but very little changes. However, one piece of the storyline that does deserve special mention is the choice of lead; Resident Evil features many characters that could’ve filled Valentine’s role in Resident Evil: Revelations, but choosing a strong female lead has seemingly been overlooked in place of the likes of Tomb Raider and Capcom’s own forthcoming Remember Me. Valentine has always been a character that has been overlooked, but it’s the subtlety of her inclusion that should be applauded.
Presented in an episodic format not too dissimilar from that champions by Alone in the Dark early on this generation, Resident Evil: Revelations features a recap of previous events at pivotal moments. The design is a tad odd here, as though the team have only been half-convinced it’s a good structure as there’s also sub-divides in episodes which don’t get the same kind of attention. As you progress through the episodes you’ll experience flashbacks and the opportunity to play as other characters, eschewing Resident Evil 6’s trio of campaigns for a more structured dual-character lead affair. The breakdown is well negotiated with regards to the videogame’s pacing and bite-sized gameplay sessions.
The core experience will be familiar to all who have entertained previous editions of the Resident Evil franchise. As stated above, the greatest similarities are to that of Resident Evil 4 – which is most certainly a compliment – though it does err on the side of action over cerebral challenge a little too often. Resident Evil: Revelations simply lacks the finesse of Resident Evil 4, which is probably more to do with its development cycle than the ambition of the development team.
The many connections to the Resident Evil 4 modernisation of the franchise are obvious, from the choice of viewpoint to the pace of the action to the fact that Resident Evil: Revelations features an autosave function. However these are not bad things. Resident Evil: Revelations maintains the cerebral challenges of the 90’s Resident Evil titles while presenting the experience in a modern way; had this hardware been available at the time of the original’s release it would most likely have been delivered in the same manner. Resident Evil: Revelations is a fine example of designers getting past the point of being limited by technology, rather than being forcibly restrained by appealing to the lowest common denominator.
One of the biggest new additions offered by Resident Evil: Revelations is also its weakest. The Genesis is a scope which lets you analyse objects in the environment a find hidden items. Behaving very similarly to Metroid Prime’s scan visor, Resident Evil: Revelations tasks the player with finding a set number of items to scan in each area (indicated by a percentage when in scan mode). This is a nice idea, but Resident Evil: Revelations is not the videogame that should be featuring it: the demand of finding all the items and achieving 100% scan rate actively encourages the player to walk around in scan mode all the time, removing any of the impact of the videogame’s horror element. Resident Evil: Revelations features a set perspective for a reason, and moving it to first-person simply breaks that carefully constructed barrier, especially when it adds more light to an intentionally poorly lit area.
The only other significant gripe concerning Resident Evil: Revelations is that of it’s technical clout. Clearly a product designed for less capable hardware, Resident Evil: Revelations looks and feels like a makeover: a bit of lipgloss and some a pedicure and it’s a brand new videogame. Of course, this isn’t quite how it works, and Resident Evil: Revelations falls far short of recently releases on home consoles. The visual quality suffers, but so do the plot delivery and loading times, the first feeling somewhat disjointed and the latter appearing far too regularly. The voice acting is generally of a reasonable standard – though the overly corny dialogue seems to be hamming it up a bit too much on purpose at times – but the soundtrack itself is clearly superior thanks simply to its subtlety.
In addition to the single-player campaign comes Raid mode, which is where the home console edition strikes out against its handheld heritage. An online co-operative gameplay mode (though it can be played solo), Raid pits players on one of a small selection of pre-designed maps and tasks them with reaching the exit while scoring as highly as possible. Points are earned through kills and finding hidden objects in addition to modifiers at the end of the level for great achievements, such as defeating enemies that greatly outrank you or completing the short linear run with without taking damage. It’s an interesting renovation of the formula in exactly the same way as the now infamous Mercenaries mode once was, and there are certainly many hours worth of entertainment offered in attempts to better your own scores and those of your friends.
Resident Evil: Revelations will be frowned upon by many. This is a videogame experience that could easily have been delivered on the previous generations of consoles – bar the high-definition texturing – and with the Nintendo 3DS release over a year old many may feel that they’re purchasing an old videogame. Those who consider themselves more responsive to the wider industry however will thank Capcom for the effort involved in bringing this unique and inviting Resident Evil experience to home consoles, as it’s easily the best we’ve seen in quite a while.