So, what’s up with that dude in the gas mask?
Resident Evil Revelations has a lot riding on it. It follows the disappointing action-orientated Resident Evil 5 and precedes the highly anticipated Resident Evil 6. Furthermore, it is the first major release since Nintendo revived the 3DS with its own software.
The 3DS desperately needs another quality title and arguably its first must have third party release (although it’s technically published by Nintendo in Australia). The pressure is on, but Resident Evil Revelations is well placed to deliver the goods.
What Resident Evil Revelations Got Right
Survival Horror - Resident Evil Revelations is a genuine survival horror game. Even on the default difficulty, it’s immediately apparent that Revelations is a return to the series’ roots and a step away from its recent flirtation with the action genre.
Hell Mode is where it really becomes a modern day reboot of what Capcom originally envisioned. Unlocked after your first play through, Hell Mode is just that: constant death. Ammo and supplies are kept to the bare minimum and the odds are colossally stacked against you.
It’s scary - One of the biggest surprises to come out of Revelations is how scary it is. I never thought a handheld game, with a tiny screen and limited pixels, would ever make me flinch. Resident Evil Revelations proved me wrong.
While there’s a case to argue Capcom held back on the scare factor at times, it’s still scarier than anything in Resident Evil 5. It supports an eery atmosphere throughout and always has you fearing a painful death around the next corner, just as any horror game should.
The Circle Pad Pro controls - I was impressed by the controls in the demo last week, but I have to retract everything I said. After going the Circle Pad Pro route, you can’t go back. The extra analogue nub gives the player unprecedented control, unlike anything achieved before on a handheld.
The additions of the ZL and ZR buttons also revise the hardware to the benefit of Revelations. Each act as triggers, resulting in controls that feel completely natural to anyone who has played a first person shooter on the PS3 or Xbox 360.
Amazing graphics - If the biggest shock to come out of Resident Evil: Revelations is its scare factor, a close second is how good it looks. It is easily the best looking game on the system, no matter how you choose to play.
The 3D effects are great with perfect depth perception. Not only does it look good, it improves the gameplay environment. However, 2D is smoother around the edges and has a more polished appearance. Playing from start to finish in 2D would look just as good as the 3D alternative, only for different reasons.
Finally, hidden in the options menu is a third way to play: strong 3D. This supercharged option isn’t practical for the full 8 hours, as your eyes would definitely melt if subjected to such straining torture; I can’t envision anything else happening. However, it is a fascinating insight into what the 3DS is capable of. If you thought you had seen deep 3D effects, just wait until you see Resident Evil: Revelations in strong 3D mode.
Haunted ship - Resident Evil: Revelations is primarily set aboard the Queen Zenobia, a seemingly haunted cruise ship floating around in the Mediterranean. Narrow corridors, locked doors, broken machinery, nowhere to run and the threat of drowning: the makings of a survival horror game. Tight spaces are always scary, especially when you’re up against something inhuman like the T-Abyss virus.
Resident Evil: Revelations is considered part of the main series and fills in some of the missing story between Resident Evil 4 and 5. However, it is removed enough as to not alienate new players. Compensating for the nature of handhelds, most of the story is broken up into 15-20 minute chunks, with “recaps” every time you restart.
New combat techniques - Revelations sports a new take on the heralded Resident Evil 4 control scheme. While the 3DS allows for similar precision, it isn’t a GameCube controller. It’s not as easy to execute head shots or severe limbs. In part, that’s also due to the new enemies. Shooting them in the head isn’t an instant kill and they can’t be crippled with the perfect knee shot.
It takes some of the skill out of the game, as there’s far less reward to becoming the perfect marksman. However, the seemingly subtle changes have allowed fear to be re-injected. Survival horror games need to have a learning curve. They need to have controls that the player hasn’t mastered to create panic.
Raid Mode - Raid Mode allows two people to join forces either locally or online to achieve a mutual goal. It reuses levels from the solo campaign and tasks you to move from point A to point B while gaining as many points as possible. At the end of the level you’ll receive a grade, earn coins and unlock loot. These can be used to better your inventory.
It’s a simple but effective formula built around getting a high score. That is the core objective, and it is so un-Resident Evil like. The difficulty of the enemies vary depending on the circumstance and your inventory becomes all so much more exciting compared to the campaign. It’s a worthy bonus mode that will offer as much life as the main quest.
What Resident Evil Revelations Got Wrong
Boring enemies - Capcom has once again substituted zombies for an all new enemy, the oozes. These things suck; not only because they latch onto your neck, but because they are boring to fight repetitively. These new enemies are stunned by bullets no matter where you shoot them. There’s little advantage to aiming for the head or limbs as the biggest target is the most effective.
Useless A.I. partner - For most of the game you have an A.I. partner with you, supposedly to have you back. The don’t have your back, they just get in the way of your front. While they don’t steal your limited weapons or supplies, that is about all they are good for.
I doubt their bullets can actually do any damage. They certainly can’t kill anything alone, which is catastrophic when your ammo is depleted and computer-controlled partner is mindlessly shooting it in the face to no avail.
Furthermore, their only other purpose is to fuel the cringe-worthy banter. Chris and Jill used to be cool, but it’s hard to respect them after some of the cliched lines they come up with in the face of antagonizing death. It’s like you’ve just turned 13 and realised how dorky your parents actually are. They used to be cooler than this, right?
Missed opportunities - Resident Evil: Revelations is a great game, but it missed so many opportunities to be step up as something special. There are countless moments where something amazing, terrifying or unexpected could have happened, but just didn’t. Capcom took the safe route at almost every turn. It’s how you successfully make a very good game, but denies it the opportunity to become the next Resident Evil 4.
The Final Verdict
Resident Evil Revelations is all that it promised to be. It is the best looking game on the system, in both 2D and 3D, and so far ahead that it’s hard to imagine anything surpassing it in the near future. The controls with the Circle Pad Pro are great and compliment the bonafide survival horror gameplay. While it isn’t without fault, including boring generic enemies, it does most things right and will be thoroughly enjoyed by any Resident Evil fan.
By Ben Salter