Resident Evil: Revelations is one of the first major titles for the 3DS this year. It represents the most modern-looking game available on the 3DS to date, with stunning graphics. At the same time, however, it is a return to the series’ roots, with a campaign that has more than a few elements from early Resident Evil games and emphasis on survival horror that has not been in some of the more recent titles of the series.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you boot up Revelations for the first time is the incredible graphics. This game is by far the prettiest game on the 3DS to date, and I frequently found myself just stopping to enjoy the view. Many of the graphical features remind of the current generation of home consoles: bloom effects, dynamic lighting, and specular effects on nearly every object. Revelations puts every other 3DS title’s visuals to shame, and sets the bar very high for the new year. The level of detail in the environments is stunning and really helps to build the atmosphere. The 3D effect is spot-on and only helps to add to the immersion.
From a gameplay perspective, the game puts a large focus on survival and resource conservation. While it is rare to actually run out of ammo completely, if you don’t hoard ammo you will frequently find yourself running dangerously low. Healing herbs are also in short supply, and if you take much damage you may have to go for some time through the game without a heal. There are some interesting swimming sections, where you’ll have to conserve your air while trying to dodge underwater enemies as you rush from one air pocket to another. It’s a truly terrifying experience, and one of the best parts of the game. Another welcome addition to the gameplay formula is the Genesis Scanner, which allows you to scan your surroundings. It can find extra ammo, weapon power ups, and at times helps you see enemies you otherwise could not. Putting so much emphasis on exploration is a good twist and helps break up the pace of the game.
The standard weapons will make an appearance in the game, including the handgun, shotgun, rifle, and SMG. You can only carry 3 weapons at a time, but you can swap with ones you’ve already collected at weapon caches you find throughout the game. In addition, you can pick up mod kits, which are usually well-hidden, to augment your weapons with greater firepower, better reload speed, higher critical hit rate, etc. Deciding how to use these power ups can be fun and you can make your weapons considerably more useful with them; definitely something to be on the lookout for as you roam the desolate halls.
The game takes place mostly on the Queen Zenobia, a derelict cruise ship that is of course filled with unspeakable horrors. The ship has more than a few similarities to Arklay Mansion, where the series started. The ship is full of small, dark, cramped corridors. Danger may be lurking around literally any corner, and there are plenty of jump scares to keep you on the edge of your seat. Even if you think you’ve already cleared an area, you still have to be careful, as every vent, pipe, door, or window is a potential entry point for an enemy. In addition to the derelict freighter, you will sometimes have flashback missions. These missions help to showcase the game’s backstory as well as provide an opportunity for the developers to show of some pretty amazing set pieces. The flashback missions do help to add a bit of variety to the gameplay, however they are mostly action-centered and often you’ll find yourself wanting to get back to the main plot.
The story is typical of the Resident Evil franchise, meaning it’s over-the-top, campy, and all over the place. Each character is steeped in backstory, and if you’re not already familiar with the franchise, you may have trouble getting up to speed. Even by series standards, however, you may find the story of Revelations a bit ridiculous. Many of the characters are returning to the series, but some of them are new to the series, and you will probably find yourself hating them before long. The dialogue is generally comically bad. Through all of this, however, the game has a certain sort of charm that the games in the series often do. The game is divided into chapters and presented like episodes in a TV show, complete with a ‘Previously on Resident Evil: Revelations‘ segment at the beginning. It adds to the story, as well as helping you remember where you left off.
Control is purposefully difficult. Yes, your character moves like a tank, but that’s by design. If you are able to move through the environment effortlessly it takes away much of the scare factor in a game like Revelations. You have to stop moving to shoot, all while something behind you can be sneaking up. It’s frustrating, but it’s part of how the game keeps you scared. There is a caveat to the control scheme, however; if you’re a gamer who likes dual analog sticks, the Circle Pad accessory can be used with the game to completely change how it controls. While you’re still not entirely free to move, having the second stick makes looking around your environment considerably easier. It makes for an entirely different experience playing the game, and in the opinion of the author, a much better one.
AI is one of the game’s few sore spots. Throughout most of the game, you will have a partner. This was a completely unnecessary addition and is downright annoying at most times. Your partner won’t use up your resources, true, but they also won’t really do anything to help you. Their shots are completely ineffectual. The game is much scarier, and in general more fun, when your partner isn’t around; for instance, there is a sequence where Jill is separated from her partner and has to go through the ship, alone and unarmed. Without a weapon, you have to find more creative methods of dealing with enemies, which is terrifying and tons of fun. Makes you wonder if more of these sequences could have happened if not for the AI partners. The only time they are ever helpful is during boss fights when they tend to draw the attention of enemies and keep them off of you, and since they are invincible you don’t have to babysit them.
For those interested in co-op, the game has that, too. Not on the main campaign; that would have been a bad idea, and it’s good that Capcom decided not to do it. Instead, they have Raid Mode, which allows you to team up with a partner either locally or online to do speed runs through levels inspired by the campaign. This gameplay is much more action-oriented than the single player campaign. You compete for high score, while unlocking better weapons and powerups. The experience reminds a bit of Left 4 Dead’s co-op, in a good way. Raid Mode adds significant replay value to the game and helps to round out the package.
Revelations is not a handheld game. It is a full-on Resident Evil title that holds it’s own against the best in the series. The fact that you can take it with you is an added bonus, but even on a home console it would be a rewarding experience; it sets a new bar for the 3DS. The graphics are far beyond anything we’ve seen on the system to date, and the 3D effect makes it even more stunning. The gameplay is a good mix of the action that we’ve seen in more recent Resident Evil titles, while returning to the series’ roots of survival horror. It’s not perfect, but it’s darn close. If you own a 3DS, you need to buy this game. If you don’t own a 3DS, this game would be a great excuse to buy one.
Here’s The Rundown:
+ Amazing graphics
+ Solid survival/horror gameplay that goes back to the genre roots
+ Brings the Series Back to Its Roots
- AI allies are annoying
9 and 9.5 represent the pinnacle of the genre, a game that defines what that genre should be about. These scores are for games that you not only feel would be worth your purchase, but you would actually try to convince your friends to buy them as well.
Resident Evil: Revelations was developed and pulished by Capcom for the Nintendo 3DS. The game was released in North America on February 7, 2012 with an MSRP of $39.99. The copy used in this review was provided to RipTen by the publisher for the purposes of review.