When I was asked to review Resident Evil: Revelations, I’m going to be quite honest with you, I wasn’t all too thrilled. Even though I wasn’t elated, I didn’t roll my eyes. The better word for it would be numb.
I remember playing the 1996 Resident Evil and thinking “this is so cool!” It was fresh, original, scary and just downright enjoyable. Staying up for hours (on the weekends) shooting aliens and hoping this “cannibalism thing” wasn’t real. It was everything a young budding gamer could ask for.
However, throughout the years it has become not even a shell of its former self. Between the twenty-two video games, five movie adaptations (the sixth being released in 2014), the comic books, the novels and countless other merchandise, this franchise has been dragged through the mud, tied to the back of truck and what’s remaining of its corpse (if you can even call it a corpse) has been left to rot in the Arizona desert sun. It other words, it has been done to death.
Despite all this, I’ve held onto a glimmer (although fading) of hope this franchise would be great again, if only it returned to its roots. Remember what made this franchise so great in the first place? It wasn’t the sale receipts, it wasn’t the flashy hype; it was about the story and its characters. Over the years, the fans – including myself – loved the plot. The Resident Evil franchise wasn’t about shooting some weird hybrid zombie-cannibals. It was about Jill Valentine, Ada Wong, Leon S. Kennedy and so many others sent off to investigate all the mutations and these strange disappearances and occurrences. The way the plot slowly unfolded as it would reveal each character’s story was mesmerizing and kept me glued to my controller. And no, I’m not going to lie, I did love shooting those scary yet incredible looking mutations. For those who still hold onto hope for the franchise, you have been noticing throughout the previous months Capcom releasing videos focusing on the game’s atmosphere, the virus outbreak, the characters and the fear we the gamers will face while playing Revelations. Credit has to go to Capcom for doing everything in its power to convince us this game will bring back those old 1996 feelings, transporting us to a time when Resident Evil was fun and fresh.
The game is set between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. It depicts the events shortly after the establishment of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), a counter-terrorism group introduced in Resident Evil 5. The story revolves around BSAA co-founders Queen Zenobia, which serves as the game’s setting. The game’s story includes a flashback, which revolves around the “floating city” of Terragrigia one year prior to the game’s events, when the Federal Bioterrorism Commission (FBC) sent agents, including Parker and Jessica, to keep the situation under control after the bio-terrorism organization “Il Veltro” launched an attack on the city using bio-organic weapons (BOW) in opposition to Terragrigia’s solar energy development. In 2005, BSAA head Clive R. O’Brian sends out Jill Valentine and her new partner, Parker Luciani, to search for Chris Redfield and his new partner, Jessica Sherawat. They have reportedly gone missing and lost contact with HQ during their mission to investigate Veltro’s possible reappearance. Jill and Parker are sent to search for them at their last known location, the cruise ship SS Queen Zenobia. During their search, they encounter several B.O.W.s on the ship infected with the T-Abyss virus, a marine virus derived from the deadly T-Virus.
Let’s start from the beginning with the good stuff. Capcom describes this game as “dramatic horror” and it tries it best to deliver on that promise. From the very beginning, the game starts off with all the makings of a “dramatic horror” story. Dramatic music? Check. A plethora of cut scenes which gives you just enough to fuel your appetite but leaves you wanting for more? Check. How about a scary ominous location which you’re trapped inside? Check. From the beginning of the game you’re thrust into the tale of series favorite Jill and newcomer Chris’ adventures aboard the Queen Zenobia. The beauty about the design of this ship and what makes the game so strong is the fact it’s designed very realistically. It’s huge, with many levels, doors, set pieces and numerous corridors that need exploring.
Nevertheless, the designers have created a masterful contrast by creating tight, very unlit spaces that would make any claustrophobic person suffer a panic attack. The ship is elegant when you stroll through the few open spaces that are made available which is filled with many minute details to marvel at. The first thing you’ll notice while navigating aside from the smoky, slightly hazy environment is the closeness of the camera. It’s close. Very close. You will have no peripheral vision. Making things that go bump in the night that much more frightful. Now pair this with the over-the-top dramatic music; tension and fear are created. It is hands down the best setting since the mansion.
Just as you become preoccupied with exploration, rather unexpectedly comes “them,” the many mutants you will face. Whether they come through windows, fall from the ceiling, pop out of closets or appear through the bathroom stall, they’re always there to greet you with the friendly “hi” that’s meant to kill you or cause injury (they never say “hi” they just really want to kill you). They will always be there, the concern is when.
Your enemies will resemble anything from plant-like adaptation of “The Blob”, to ooze with spikes, to a weird lizard looking like creature. Moving rather slowly they don’t seem to be a threat at first, however, when they do begin to pick up speed, you’ll find yourself doing a weird cha-cha dance with the controller to either escape their presence or to kill them. The main goal is to not let them back you into a corner. They seem to find joy doing this and it makes dodging and killing that much more frustrating. If you do survive with just an injury and find yourself out of herbs you’ll spend the remainder of the level with bloody blotches all over your screen, and nobody wants that.
The weakest spot to shoot at is obviously the head followed by the arms and then the legs. Why the legs? They fall, thus bringing us back to shooting them in the head. When it comes to slimy oozing creatures with spikes, don’t get near them, they will cause injury (remember what I say about the blotchy bloody screen?). Another helpful tip, use the night vision scanning goggles. You’ll need them anyway for scanning the mutants. But use them anytime you enter a room. It will be your best-friend, making finding herbs, gun parts, ammo, guns that much more easier. Don’t get too happy and start scanning the mutants before you kill them, this will slow you down tremendously causing more bodily harm to you.
Another high point about Revelations is that it doesn’t stay on one character’s story for too long before your whisked away to another cut-scene (they really love cut-scenes) or episodic segment, and you find yourself with Chris and Jessica in a snow-ridden landscape investigating a plane crash. Your task is to scan for clues and to fight off the more mutated creatures…this time in the form of those lovable dogs. Compared to the mutants awaiting you on the ship, the dogs are rather simple, however they do take some firepower to go down, so just keep shooting at their heads and you’ll soon be doing the victory dance. But don’t worry, just when you think you’ll be spending your time shooting dogs all day long, the cut-scenes are cued back up and you’ll find yourself back on that boat. The story switches back and forth between the main characters.
Since I made a point focusing on shooting, the use of fire power should be mentioned. The gun’s power is made as realistic as possible. Meaning, you’ll finding switching between different guns very smoothly. What’s also realistic are the bullets, meaning you will run out if you start shooting at every sound you hear. So save your ammo. While I’m on the topic of guns, I should also spend some time discussing the beauty of customization. It is glorious. The gun’s power you create is never overwhelming yet you’ll never find yourself lacking. The mutants can be troublesome to kill at times. So make sure you take your time customizing.
A pretty nostalgic feature that returns is Raid Mode. For those who aren’t as educated in Raid Mode as others, Raid Mode is a wonderful opportunity to defeat enemies solo or with another online player. It also enables you to earn points to purchase more and better guns. The mutants are harder; bigger, faster and stronger. This mode also allows you to work on your shooting skills which can help you in Campaign Mode. It’s the gaming circle of life.
Now comes time for the game’s downside. Revelations technically isn’t a new release. It was released last year for the 3DS and was easily considered one of the best games in the franchise. However, it wasn’t fair for only those with a Nintendo 3DS to have all the excitement to themselves. Why not release the title on an “upgraded version” for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC through a method called “conversion.”
The graphics are atrocious. In all honesty the 1996 PlayStation version had better graphics. The problem is the Nintendo 3DS despite, all its beauty, is that it’s very compact. The screen is tiny (4.88-inch), the graphics are lovely on this console because the game was designed to fit that size screen. However, when you take that image and stretch it out on your television screen, the graphics lose their quality. The images are not crisp and clear. Nothing can change this. I tried messing with my television settings, putting on stronger glasses. Nothing worked.
Even more shocking is how much the game glitches. I was baffled, befuddled and stunned. I had characters running into and through each other. I was attacked by dog that randomly disappeared and reappeared. There were creatures shot that bumped into each other. I had spiky mutants that attacked through my character’s head. It would have made for a hilarious blooper reel. What’s sad is that it really took away my attention from the story and made gameplay frustrating. Resident Evil is known for its ridiculous over-the-top stories but that’s also what I find so appealing about the franchise. I enjoy my plot points, and this was robbed from me by graphics joining the WWE and running amok.
While I spoke about the gloriousness of the ship and how much the developers spent creating the environment and the atmosphere, it gets old rather quickly. The music is so over-dramatic it becomes annoying. Music is supposed to help create and carry the gameplay, not make it laughable. Every time you go inside a room or head down the stairs the music picks up. However, you soon realize it’s all for naught. While the mutants are there, they’re not always there. In fact, the majority of the time, I spent looking for herbs and scanning. It became tedious. You no longer marvel at the designs, you soon start to dread trekking through them…again and again. The positive aspect is that you can open new doors you couldn’t access before and there are the puzzles (yay for puzzles) and if you’re really lucky you’ll discover new creatures. This isn’t entirely bad, like I mentioned previously, the way the story is broken up into short episodic sections, jumping back and forth between different characters and locations keeps the pacing brisk and the staleness short. While I did get tired of one situation, I knew I wasn’t long before I was whisked off to another journey. But I did get tired.
The closeness of the camera I spoke about before, I soon realized was all for show much like the music. It’s never really utilized properly. The main problem is that Revelations never does much of anything with this. You’re never startled or given a reason to dread what is luring around the corner. The combat is straightforward. While there are environments that allow you to roam a bit more freely, take a swim and do other things, you’re just walking around with limited vision of a flashlight all unnecessarily.
While I was baffled by the lack of graphics I was stunned and equally confused by the boss battles. Every gamer loves the boss battles; you get to test your skills, be dazzled by these huge hideous and challenging creatures. I dred it, I love it, I’m filled with so many mixed emotions its enough to go into therapy. Instead, I underwhelmed. There is nothing and I mean nothing special about the boss battles. Yes they are bigger. Yes they are stronger. They’re also standard and blah.
What’s also “blah” are the characters Jill Valentine and Chris. While they are back, they aren’t given any opportunities for character development. They’re just lovely reminders of the previous games. Like a childhood teddy bear you find in the back of a closet. While Jill’s partner Parker is a perfect addition to the series by being likable and someone you’ll know will always have your back (when he’s not busy running into and through you), Chris’s partner Jessica is the complete opposite. She’s obnoxious, slow, annoying and did I mention slow. I did? Well let me reiterate, she’s slow. There are scenes where you have to rely on her to shoot mutants and you can literally die twenty times over before she makes her way to shoot anything. I’m more surprise she can even figure out how to fire a gun let alone land one decent shot. Heads up, practice your shooting because relying on her to have your back is fruitless.
Overall, while the game has laughable and questionable downfalls, Revelations is a great return to the series. It feels familiar while being fresh and original. Despite some hiccups I actually did enjoy playing it. However, if you can, just stick to the original 3DS version. If not, don’t expect to get much of an impact from the “upgraded” version other than a fun game with a nostalgic throwback feeling to the series. It is decent and makes for lovely addition to the series. However, if you’re new to franchise or play it as a stand-alone the game is just okay. There is nothing that will “wow” you nor is there anything that should make you run out and by this game pronto. It’s just one of the many new releases that will get lost in the 2013 gaming shuffle.