Given the loud song and dance Capcom has been making of Dead Rising of late, I’d almost assumed they’d given up on reinvigorating the Resident Evil franchise. Sure we’d heard about Revelations coming to 3DS and The Mercenaries 3D was a decent romp to fill some space, but all the HD reimaginings of classic Resi titles on PSN, XBLA and Steam last year barely made a peep (Resident Evil 4 aside). Meanwhile, resident
fans of the once great franchise have been gargling away the sour taste left by Resident Evil 5, a game that almost has no right being lumped into the survival-horror category.
2012 marks the franchise’s 15th anniversary though, and there is a dim, murky light at the end of this spacious and all-too familiar hallway (to maintain a theme). Resident Evil 6 looks to ramp up the series ten-fold, offering aficionados a chance to actually use Chris Redfield for what he’s intended, and eat up the suspense and tension with series favourite, Leon. Then there are a handful of other faces rearing their head, clearly setting the series and its myriad loose-ends, open-ends and dead-ends up for some sort of epic closure.
But whatever the case may be, November is a ways off, and with no news of anything else in the horror department coming anytime soon (more Dead Space please), survival-horror junkies might need to look to something smaller to fill their plate.
Thankfully Resident Evil: Revelations is anything but a bite-size meal. As a single-player experience, it’s among the best on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, and is arguably the best-looking game on the platform to-date. It also ticks a number of important Resident Evil boxes while also pushing a classic formula forward to join the rest of modern gaming (more on this in a minute). But it also lacks in a number of very important areas, leaving the whole affair as a mixed one at best.
For one, the enemy-types throughout are pretty lacking in variety, and even challenge. The base enemies, “Oozes”, who replace zombies or ganados, are slow and easy to crowd control. They’re only ever threatening when the game goes all classic Resi on you and you’re thrust into tricky camera situations, or dropped super-close to one. Otherwise, even a room full of them is really no threat.
Hunters return, and while nostalgic, they also come across as a bit cheap in recreation and inclusion. Though it is good to see the return of classic Capcom-designed boss battles, with equally awesome monsters, and humans, served up in the end-of-level confrontations the series has oft been renowned for. The hallmark of good Resi updates is new, imaginative and scary enemies though, so it’s sad to see that Revelations offers little in this department.
Interestingly, the Oozes may have actually been a worthy monster to fight, if the game’s control and combat system were lifted directly from both Resi 4 and 5, but as design would have it, the team have joined the rest of the modern gaming world, offering up a control scheme that’s more akin to Dead Space than either of its series brethren. In conjunction with the Circle Pad 3DS add-on, Resident Evil: Revelations is a pure joy to play.
It’s not necessary to play the game with the two analogue sticks, and without it is more of a classic affair, but once you taste the thrill of Resident Evil with a proper third-person camera that you’re in control of, it’s hard to switch back. You can now aim and strafe, and the game gives you the option to switch between a third-person view or first-person for aiming, though I’d argue the latter is not necessary at all. A new gadget that lets you scan the environment ala Batman is also presented in first-person, and can reveal hidden treasures or be used to gain a scan percentage of the immediate environment through various enemies you encounter (this then goes towards expanding your health bar).
The game is presented to the player in episodic form, replete with a “last time, on Resident Evil: Revelations...” level lead-in lifted directly from Alan Wake. It works well for the game though, and despite being as chunky a single-player outing as anything on the home consoles, helps with the idea of bite-sized gameplay for commuters or the like. You’ll also switch the story up between characters, with Revelations continuing Chris Redfield’s story and also welcoming back Jill Valentine, among some new faces. It’s all on par with what we’ve come to expect from the series’ narrative with equal parts action, cheese and convolution, but it wouldn’t be Resident Evil if you understood everything that was going on from the outset.
As a stand-alone 3DS single-player game, Revelations is already worth the price of admission, and anyone able to deal with 3D for long periods of time will get the most out of it, but Capcom has also packaged in an excellent multiplayer co-op option outside of the narrative called Raid Mode.
You can tackle it on your own, but it’s brilliance comes into play with a partner, either locally or online, and offers up a series of challenging courses lifted from the game’s single-player campaign. There’s plenty of loot to nab throughout each course, and at the end of each chapter you’re rewarded with a grading on how you did along with more loot and currency to then use in a shop. The goal is to kit yourself out for the next chapter in the best possible gear to get the best possible run-through. This also adds a bit of a challenge between you and your online Raid partner and makes for some seriously visceral gameplay. It’s essentially the main game sans story fluff, and with old-school additions such as health bars (and buffs) for enemies and so on.
There’s a lot of serious potential for Raid to go an even further distance than the game’s campaign for a lot of players, and I’d even recommend a purchase on its own if Capcom offered up a spin-off release of the mode which, as an add-on for a retail release, far outshines the likes of The Mercenaries 3D.
For Resi fans, this is a no-brainer, and worth picking up a 3DS for. It shows the system’s strengths (because it looks so damn lush) and with Raid proves the online and local multiplayer potential for Nintendo’s handheld. For action junkies, the game brings the series up to speed with the rest of the gaming world thanks to a more modern control scheme, and I do highly recommend picking up the system’s Circle Pad for the game because it not only enhances the experience, but will no doubt make future action titles that much more engaging and friendly to play.
There are some issues in the way of variety with enemies, and some missed opportunities for serious survival-horror scares, but on the whole it’s still one of the stronger Resi releases we’ve seen in a while. Definitely worth more than a look in.