The Resident Evil series has generated a lot of flack in recent years as the franchise has moved away from its survival horror beginnings and ventured into the realm of action horror. For many gamers this was not an issue, but the hardcore fans that have been playing since the days of the PlayStation One have been very vocal about their displeasure with the series’ direction.
Capcom’s latest game, Resident Evil Revelations, looks to address fan concerns by taking the survival horror gameplay of the early Resident Evil titles and peppering it with short action packed sequences. In Revelations you predominantly play as Jill Valentine as she investigates a seemingly deserted Cruise Liner that has links to a bio-terrorist organization. After a few minutes of exploring the vessel it turns out that, quelle surprise, it is filled with all sorts of horrible creatures that are out for your blood.
The game’s story mode is broken up in to 12 chapters, with each chapter having at least two stages. A number of stages put you in the role of side characters, such as Chris Redfield and newcomer Parker Luciani. These stages are more action oriented, usually focusing on you facing off against dozens of enemies in a mad rush to get to set location.
The sections in which you control Jill are far more like the Resident Evil games of old. There are fewer enemies – you’ll rarely find yourself facing more than two or three enemies at a time – and your resources are far more limited. In short it feels very much like the Resident Evil games of old, but with a more modern control scheme and less of a focus on contrived puzzles.
Of course it is not a pure old school game in ever sense; there have been some changes made to make the game more player friendly. The first significant change is the ability to shoot and move at the same time. Resident Evil Revelations is the first 3DS game to be compatible with the new 3DS Circle Pad Pro, a peripheral that gives the 3DS a second analogue stick. As you might expect, this allows you to control your character as you would in any other game, with the left stick controlling movement, while the right stick is used to aim.
Those without the Circle Pad Pro need not fear as the game plays perfectly well without it. As we discussed in our Circle Pad Pro review, the only real selling point of the Circle Pad Pro is that it makes playing the 3DS for long periods of time that much more comfortable for those with big hands. If you don’t want to buy the add-on then you can move and shoot by simply holding the left trigger once your short is lined up. This then locks your shot in place and allows you to strafe.
While there are far fewer pickups available there is a way to get around the lack of equipment. Jill is armed with a scanning device that can find hidden objects in the environment, such as health and ammo. The scanner is also used to collect data on enemies, which, when enough data is collected, rewards you with a health pick up. While scanning you cannot use any other weapons, and as such, if you’re not careful, you run the risk of being seriously injured when scanning.
The only real issue with Revelations is that the main objectives tend to be incredibly conventional. For the most part you will be taking part in basic fetch quests – usually revolving around finding a missing component, or obtaining a specific key, then moving on the next area where the whole process starts over again – with very little in the way of challenging puzzles. When there are puzzles the solutions are all very straightforward, usually with the answer staring you right in the face. That isn’t to say that they’re bad by any means, it’s just a shame that they’re so pedestrian.
As this is a portable game, and the 3DS’ fairly short battery life runs the risk of cutting gaming sessions short, Capcom have included a series of recap cut scenes that detail the important events of previous chapters. This is incredibly handy for reminding players of the key plot points, but it is a little annoying that they play automatically at the start of every chapter, even if you haven’t taken a break. This invariably results in you being reminded of things that happened mere moments ago, which gets a little tiresome during long play sessions.
Hidden on the ship are dozens of custom weapon parts that can be used to upgrade the weapons in your arsenal. These range from your standard stat boosts to more inventive upgrades, such as the ability to daze enemies with every successful hit. You can only carry three main weapons at a time, and each weapon type has a different number of available upgrade slots. In Story Mode any discarded weapon automatically transfers over to the storage box, which makes some potentially tough choices far easier.
Capcom have included optional side missions, such as scanning every type of enemy or defeating certain enemies, which award additional content upon completion. These include upgrades and weapons to use in the single player, and characters and costumes to use in the multiplayer Raid Mode.
Rather than using the well-established Mercenaries formula (in which you must kill as many enemies as possible within a set time limit) Resident Evil Revelations has an entirely new take on the score based multiplayer match. Raid Mode has you running through areas from the main game with the aim of killing every enemy you come across. Where this differs from The Mercenaries is that it is not timed and there is a set number of enemies per level. As well as your standard creatures there are super powered enemies, for instance the giant enemy or the enemy that is more damage resilient, which adds a certain level of variety to the combat.
Completing story chapters and Raid missions awards you with points which can be used to buy upgrades and new weapons from the in-game store. These can also be purchased with 3DS Play Coins, which are earned by walking with the 3DS in sleep mode, if you find that you’re a little lacking in the points department.
There is something really quite compelling about collecting upgrades and applying them to your various weapons, basically transforming a humble pistol into an astonishing death dealer capable of felling fearsome enemies with a single shot. Adding a leveling up system, which grants you access to more powerful variants of existing weapons, is another genius move from Capcom that will likely ensure that players keep playing Raid Mode months after they have finished the story.
Raid Mode is playable both online and locally through wireless communications. The online games that we have played have all been stable with no noticeable lag, although results will obviously vary depending on your Internet connection. The game also uses StreetPass to allow players to share supplies between each other, which can be used in your single player game, giving those that are struggling to find resources an added incentive for going out and trying to find other 3DS owners that have played the game.
There are a few niggling technical issues with the game – when exiting lifts and opening large doors the game dramatically slows down as it loads up the next part of the map, and for some reason you can only go through doors one at a time – but overall the game is technically very impressive.
Graphics: 5/5 – A strong spooky aesthetic mixed with some brilliant looking character models. One of the 3DS’ best looking games to date.
Sound: 4/5 – Aside from Kieth and Quint, who have some of the most annoying voices in all of gaming, the voice acting is very strong, and the game’s score is suitably atmospheric.
Gameplay: 4/5 – Some will lament the lack of challenging puzzles, but for the most part the shift from short action themed stages to more lengthy traditional survival horror works really well. Raid Mode is the real star, with its addictive leveling up and upgrade system.
Longevity: 4/5 – The story mode consists of 12 chapters and will take around eight hours to finish, although this may vary depending on how much you explore. Raid Mode has about 50 missions, all of which are playable in co-op online and offline, potentially keeping the cartridge in your handheld for weeks to come.
Overall: 4 out of 5
Resident Evil Revelations manages to do the seemingly impossible, cater to fans of the old games while also serving as a fantastic starting place for gamers new to the series. By mixing old fashioned survival horror gameplay with a splash of action Capcom have made a really fun and compelling title that brings the large scale feel of the Resident Evil console games to Nintendo’s portable device.