Monday, February 6, 2012

Review: Resident Evil: Revelations

Survival Horror. A genre that is getting less and less attention from developers every year, franchises turning into pure action shooters is nothing new and it seems like we might have to accept that its era might have passed. But with Resident Evil: Revelations, Capcom has promised to change this. Advertised as a true Survival Horror game, the 3DS title chose to go against the style of the latest Resident Evil games, but is to its favour? Let's find out.

  • Developed by CAPCOM - Published by CAPCOM
  • Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS
  • PEGI: 16+ / ESRB: M
  • Reviewed by: Tobbii Karlsson

Revelations is presented as a TV-series, similar to Siren: Blood Cure and Alone in the Dark, taking its story throughout episodes with opening recaps and cliffhanger endings. The story itself is about the BSAA from previous games investigating the return of a bioterrorism group called Veltro. They soon realize they've walked into a trap and Jill Valentine along with her partner Parker Luciani find themselves stuck on the Queen Zenobia, a large cruise ship. The story is well written, but the episodic format feels forced, the game allows for free-roaming exploration of Zenobia, similar to the mansion in the first Resident Evil game.

But thanks to the cutting away from the main-setting to flashbacks and the story of the side-characters makes the pacing feel off and it just doesn't work in the games favour as much as Capcom would have wanted. Had they maybe placed some of the flashbacks and stuff as side-missions you unlocked once the game had been finished, it might have been easier to follow. As it stands, it's good but slightly confusing. The characters are a mixed bag as well. Parker Luciani and Chief O'brian are both fun additions to the story, but as for the other new characters, it seems Capcom are just playing the expected cliché cards to move it all along.

We have the flirty Jessica who basically do nothing for 95% of the game and Raymond Vester who shows up from time to time, but his character is never really established. Unfortunately, Jill Valentine is basically free from personality in Revelations as well, she feels like a blank slate of a character, no emotions, no thoughts or reactions, she only exists in this game to look for Chris Redfield, who in return does nothing but act out his Jill-is-my-partner persona from Resident Evil 5.

There's no reason to hold it back, the story of Revelations is a really good one that keeps you on the edge, but the presentation with pacing and characters is not done well at all and is probably the weakest aspect of the game.

The game is very pretty, probably the prettiest game on the 3DS. Lighting is on par with several console games of this era and most textures are highly-detailed. But I'd do wrong if I didn't talk about the pre-rendered cutscenes. Some are fine, but most are blurry and washed out so it just looks bad in comparison to the spectacular sharpness of the few in-game ones.

The art-direction itself is decent with a lot lifted from the first Resident Evil games in terms of tone, colour and setting. But the new enemies of the game, the T-Abyss-Zombies, just doesn't feel like they always belong in the game. They look more like something out of Silent Hill than Resident Evil, they can be pretty terrifying when they're pulled off well, but they clash with the style of the game too much at times. The other enemies are pulled off better, it's just a shame since the T-Abyss-Zombies are the common enemies.

The soundtrack is fantastic, setting mood and excitement high, having several memorable tunes that I'm sure will end up there with the various classic Resident Evil melodies. The voice-acting go from good to irritating, Jill, Parker, O'brian and Chris being some of the better ones where as Jessica or Quint end up being a nuisance to listen to at times. There's been some complaints about the overall quality on the sound effects like shooting, opening doors and etc. But I can't say this is anything I've experience upon playing the game.

Revelations change some things up with its control scheme, it's based on the Resident Evil 4-type controls, but the run-button has been replaced simply pushing the Circle Pad all the way, using Herbs is dedicated entirely to the A button and sub-weapons are used by pressing the X button. Taking a page from Resident Evil 4's prototype version, the sub-weapon can be anything from the knife to hand-grenades. Another new thing is the ability to walk while shooting, by holding down the L button you can move about freely, though you lose your aiming possibilities.

Unless you play with the gyro-scope or the Circle Pad Pro in which you may play the game using Type-D controls, sacrificing the Resident Evil combat mechanics of the past and instead allowing for full control like a First Person Shooter. While I'm glad this exists for those who want it, it feels unnecessary. The game is clearly designed for the old control scheme and I've got to say I found this game far easier than any previous Resident Evil game despite not using the updated controls, so I don't see the reason as to why we need to change a working formula.

While the game plays a lot like Resident Evil 4 or 5, there's no more shopping in the game, if you want to upgrade your weapons you need to find various kits with perks that you insert into slots of the weapon. I preferred the system used in 4 and 5, but this is a nice feature that allows for further exploration to find the various kits around the Zenobia. Speaking of this ship, I feel I do need to say how much these parts of the game made me feel like I was playing Metroid: Fusion. What I mean by that is that I had so many different places I could go through to find items or upgrades, but unlike Resident Evil 1 or Super Metroid, I also always knew where I needed to go thanks to the objective marker telling me, allowing for the player to choose to explore and back-track rather than forcing them to do it.

When you beat the game, which I did in eight hours and thirty minutes, you unlock New Game + and the Hell mode. It's all what you've come to expect at this point, but more importantly is that every third episode or so you also unlock stages for the RAID mode. The RAID mode replaces The Mercenaries in Revelations, setting up a co-op run throughout a part of the game with the intention of getting high scores and good time. You unlock new weapons, costumes and kits as you move along and Capcom even included a level-up system to brag about online.

Speaking of online, it works great. This is my first wi-fi title on the 3DS and I've had no lag or issues playing it at all. It allows for worldwide searching with your nickname visible, so if you'd want to you could always write your nickname as your 3DS friendcode and hope to get some new friends by having them do the same, because there's no way to find out their code otherwise. Another nice addition of the wi-fi more is that when you play with strangers they will become mission markers and appear as a random enemy in one of the RAID stages, giving you a reward if you manage to kill it.

But the question on everybody's mind should be, is the Queen Zenobia a scary place to be? And the answer to this question is why I tried to only play the game at night with every source of light turned off, the answer is. Sometimes. There's no constant feeling of claustrophobia or a sense of atmosphere that stops you from moving forward, there's also a lack of 'good' jump scares. However, there are points throughout the game where Capcom really nailed it, without going into detail, I will tell you of one certain experience.

At a certain point in the game I started hearing noises, I knew what would happen, it was obvious, but the sound made me so uneasy I had problems moving Jill forward. THAT is what Survival Horror should be and it makes me so sad that Capcom doesn't really get to that point more than once in the game. It's without a doubt the scariest Resident Evil in almost ten years, but that's more of a beating towards the past Resident Evil games than it is praising Revelations. If your only intention of playing Revelations was to get creeped out, I say wait for a price drop or rent it, it's not a recurring feeling unfortunately.

Resident Evil: Revelations is a very good game, it has some issues on the story department, but in the end it all comes across as a tidy package that anyone without a 3DS should get their hands on. Great gameplay, great wi-fi and the best visuals on the 3DS yet. Now the question remain, will Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6 be as good or better? Well we'll answer both those questions later this year. Thank you for reading, and go pick up Resident Evil: Revelations.

Final Evaluation:
7.5/10 - A Very Good Game

Tobbii Karlsson played Resident Evil: Revelations for a total of 10 Hours. The Main Campaign was finished in 8 Hours and 30 Minutes on Normal Difficulty. Another 1 Hour and 30 Minutes was spent on the RAID mode online and offline.

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