When the original PlayStation came out, there was one game that made me really want to save up and buy the system: the original Resident Evil. I loved it. From the intense moments as you ran for your life from zombie dogs, to the terrible dialog. It was the right game at the right time, and I have been a fan ever since. I would even go so far as to say that Resident Evil 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, and with a few minor exceptions, I have played every game in the series. But that doesn’t mean that I overlook the problems when they arise.
Those who played last year’s Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D know what I’m talking about. The game wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t really a Resident Evil game either. It looked and played like one, but it was missing what made the series so great. The easy thing to point out is that it had no story, but it was more than that. It was hollow and just didn’t offer much content. Resident Evil: Revelations is a different sort of game altogether, and a worth entry to the franchise.
RE:R offers a full story featuring Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, and a handful of other characters, some of which you get a chance to play as the story unfolds. With around seven or eight hours of gameplay, the story is the focus, and if you are a fan of the series and already own a Nintendo 3DS, buying this game is a no brainer. That isn’t to say it isn’t without problems, but the good far outweighs the bad, and that is before you even get to the ridiculously deep Raid Mode, which can be played either alone or cooperatively with friends (local or online).
The funny thing about Raid Mode is that it is essentially a better version of Mercenaries, which makes the actual game Resident Evil: Mercenaries retroactively worse. For Revelations though, it is a welcome addition and increases the playability of the game significantly.
The story is pure old school Resident Evil — for good and bad. Although you bounce around between characters, locations, and even times, the bulk of the game is told through the eyes — or more accurately over the shoulder — of Jill “the master of unlocking” Valentine herself. Set between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, Jill find herself aboard a derelict cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia, which is afloat somewhere in the Mediterranean. After responding to a distress call from Chris, Jill and her new partner Parker Luciani head on board, and find themselves trapped and surrounded by B.O.W.s (Bio Organic Weapons).
The cruise ship is very reminiscent of the mansion from the first game: self-contained, extremely varied, and of course, crawling with things that want to beat you to death. Along with the old-school feel, comes the old-school and slightly nonsensical plot, dialog, and characters. There are more than a few cringe-worthy lines delivered during times they just don’t belong, but that is par for the RE course.
The real key to the game though, and the thing that works most of the time, is the presentation. Not just in terms of graphics (which look great on the 3DS, even if the 3D is never really a factor), but in terms of the times you will find yourself wandering down a dark hallway, wondering what will happen next. Revelations manages to avoid the obvious moments, and instead makes you think you are safe before a dozen horrible things attack you.
As you progress through the game, the story plays out in episodes, which can then be replayed in both the campaign or in the Raid Mode, where you are tasked with going from one point to another and killing anything along the way that looks at you funny. The weapons and items aren’t transferrable, but you do need to progress through the game to unlock all of the raid missions. There is also a lot of content, characters, and other stuff to unlock, which will keep you playing for a long time.
The gameplay is similar to that of Resident Evil 4 and 5, giving you a third-person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint. You can also aim yourself into a first-person viewpoint, and mercifully, you can actually move while aiming. A new dodge function is a welcome addition, but the lack of a sprint button is just as annoying as you would expect. The game can also be played with an additional peripheral called the Circle Pad Pro, but it isn’t needed.
The movements can feel a bit awkward and clunky at times, which is pure Resident Evil. It can be frustrating to be trapped in a corner surrounded by enemies because you stiffly and accidently backed away, but that is intentional, and really does add to the tension. It is annoying, but deliberate. There is also a new device called the genesis scanner, which you can use to scan the surroundings and find hidden objects. It isn’t necessary, but the tradition of scarce items returns, making it beneficial to take your time and look around. You can also scan enemies for a bonus, which can lead to some intense moments as you try to quickly switch between weapons.
For the most part though, the game moves and responds well. If you have played (and most importantly, enjoyed) the previous Resident Evil games, you should feel right at home here.
At times the voice acting can make your ears bleed, and effects like lightning sound like they are sampled from a SNES game. But things like creatures skittering through the ducts above you, or the distant moan of a creature add a lot to the ambiance. In that sense the presentation, including the look of the ruined cruise ship, works very well.
Where the game stumbles is in the story, which is muddled. Plus you will actively root for at least a few of the supporting characters to die horribly. You may even “accidentally” try to shoot a few of them repeatedly from point blank distance in the head.
For those who hated the old games’ stories and cast, this game will feel like a personal insult. However, if you are a fan of Resident Evil from way back, then this is the game for you. It is an homage to the early days of the franchise, but tempered with some of the lessons learned from some of the newer entries. There is less of an action feel, and more of a survival-horror flair, which is highlighted by the claustrophobic (and oddly nostalgic) design of the cruise ship you spend most of your time on. The addition of the Raid Mode also adds a lot to the game, and if you were a fan of Mercenaries, this is a new — and better — version of that with a shiny new story attached. Resident Evil: Revelations is a must-own for fans of the series, and one of the best titles out there for the 3DS.
Score: 8.5 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS on a copy provided by Capcom)