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Resident Evil: Revelations Review

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On 02/09/2012 at 12:55 PM by Chessa DiMola

A thrilling new direction for the Resident Evil series.

A great game for all 3DS owners, but a must have for survival horror and action fans.

Since the release of Resident Evil 4, there has been a division of opinions amongst longtime fans of the series. Some preferred the isolated exploration of the first four titles – including Code Veronica – whereas others favored the open world, more shooter focused style established in 4 and 5. The newest title in the series, Resident Evil: Revelations, introduces an entirely new spin on both approaches, while making some great changes to the core formula as well.

As a devoted fan of the series, I was pleasantly surprised by the natural feeling Revelations had right from the start. Being the first Resident Evil specifically designed for a portable system, I had a few concerns about how limitations with the controls (I did not purchase a Circle Pad Pro), added 3D, and handheld size constraints would affect the final outcome and overall quality of the game.

For a handheld game, Revelations is absolutely stunning, and the 3D really enhances the play experience; something I haven’t found true of most 3DS titles up until now. For a shooter, depth perception is a critical factor in judging what weapon to use, in addition to how close to an enemy your character can safely be. Not only did the 3D help with disposing enemies, it made the experience much creepier. It was bad enough in older Resident Evil games to have a zombie come rushing at you, but when you can actually see it running towards you in eye-popping 3D, it really gets the adrenaline going.

As awesome as it may be for the game to look good, making sure it controls well is much more important. Thankfully, it handles like a dream - even underwater! As I previously stated, I played through the entire game without the Circle Pad Pro and didn’t run into a single issue. My characters moved with finesse, did 180 degree turns on a dime, and the aiming felt just as fluid as it was in 4 and 5. However, I should mention that the default control scheme sets players to first-person mode when they take aim and I found that to be a bit unnatural and awkward. Thankfully, with a few quick menu selections I was back in my third-person comfort zone.

While the 3DS allows Revelations to live up to some pretty basic standards, it offers the opportunity to do new things that would be impossible on a home console. One of the best new additions is the menu, which is always open on the bottom 3DS screen. Any Resident Evil fan knows how often they had to open and close their menu in previous titles to do simple tasks like reload a weapon safely, take herbs, organize inventory, or look at the map. Now, everything can be done right on the touch screen without ever having to pause the game and sacrifice immersion.

New tweaks to the classic formula help in allowing the menu system, and gameplay for that matter, to be fluid and continuous. For one, players will no longer have to worry about finding different types of herbs or mixing them to create a stronger health tonic. Now, every Green Herb becomes its own individual health unit and always restores a character to full health.

Finding things in general is completely different, thanks to a new tool named the Genesis; a scanner that finds hidden objects. Rather than walking around a room picking up everything shiny in sight, players will have to work a little bit harder for many of their items, which usually wind up being precious units of ammo. Enemies can also be scanned and each one will fill up a percentage meter within the Genesis, which will give players a health item when filled to 100%. Though it seemed a bit tedious to me at first, it really isn’t a nuisance at all. In fact, it’s a much more interesting way to acquire items, and a satisfying way to find rarer items, such as a crucial weapon upgrade.

Even better than not having to mix herbs and finding hidden items is the auto-save feature, which eliminates the need for those pesky typewriter ribbons that every Resident Evil fan surely loves so much. But the greatest benefit is that the auto-save checkpoints players as they tackle a level, erasing the need to redo unnecessary amounts of gameplay in the event of death.

Even if Revelations didn’t checkpoint players during levels, they wouldn’t be doing much backtracking anyway thanks to separating the gameplay sections by chapters; a concept originally started in Resident Evil 4. Unlike how it was done in 4, the gameplay blocks are much smaller, taking a maximum of about one hour to complete an entire chapter, which is also broken up into its own subsections. To keep the player on top of the winding storyline, each new chapter begins with a cinematic to recap what has occurred so far.

Chopping up everything into bite-sized portions has its definite pros and cons. On one hand, it breaks up that open-ended feel Resident Evil is known for, and destroys a bit of the creepiness brought on by being trapped for long periods of time with creatures dying to slaughter you. On the other hand, it allows players to take on manageable pieces of the game, which is great for those with limited time and useful for keeping players on top of the story.

Keeping with tradition, the back story of Revelations is just as loaded, confusing, and slightly convoluted as every other Resident Evil before it. Taking place in 2005, after Raccoon City and before the mansion, a bioterrorist group known as Veltro releases a virus in a city located on the water, called Terragrigia, causing a devastating outbreak. This led to a government organization authorizing the city’s destruction to prevent spreading the virus further.

Revelations takes players through the conspiratorial aftermath of these events, in a much different way than its predecessors. Past Resident Evil titles have allowed players to take control of more than one character, but Revelations goes one step further, telling the story through multiple sets of controllable characters. The various characters, including familiar faces Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, will take players through a variety of locations, such as the interior and exterior of a snow covered base as well as a few ships. Rather than spending gratuitous amounts of time reading memos and diary entries, players get to experience every piece of the ongoing story (present and past) from all angles, allowing much of the storyline to be told through gameplay, vivid animations, and convincing acting.

When it comes to the cinematic nature of Revelations, I’m not solely referring to the cutscenes. Surprisingly, Revelations is more Uncharted-like in its approach than past Resident Evil titles.

During certain levels, players will find themselves in frantic, fast-paced situations where they must not only fight for their lives, but face off against unfortunate environmental occurrences as well. Everything that winds up happening during these segments is incredibly well-scripted down to the amount of ammo and health they give you. Several times I found myself running and gunning only to end up in a horrible spot with no ammo, no health, and a speeding pulse, praying that it was the end of the chapter.

Revelations has even more ways to get players going, too. Within the survival horror genre, I have always viewed Resident Evil as my "shock-scare" series. Revelations changes this up a bit by still keeping that scare method intact while bringing in some of the unnerving qualities I usually attribute to Silent Hill or Fatal Frame.

The zombies in Revelations more closely resemble monsters than any zombie I’ve seen in a past Resident Evil game. They're creepy and the way they move can be a bit unsettling. Worse, you can’t hear them the way you could hear traditional zombies. There’s no moaning, no footsteps, just a terrifyingly out-of-the-blue attack. They fall from ceilings, come at you from behind, and snatch you around corners from silent, pitch black hallways.

Of all the great new elements Revelations brings to the table, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that something is missing. I’ve narrowed it down to two very important Resident Evil staples: puzzles and exploration.

With the exception of some very simple door opening puzzles, Revelations is devoid of them. In past Resident Evil games, solving puzzles goes hand-in-hand with the ability to explore. While I certainly didn’t want to spend hours remembering where to use the green key, or where that emblem had to go, some sort of free-roaming is necessary to capture the essence of a Resident Evil game. As it stands, Revelations is absolutely linear; it will guide you to every key, bring you back to every door, and lead you everywhere you have to go next.

Exploring with a partner also drastically changes the gameplay dynamic, and eliminates some of the constant fear brought on by navigating alone. As silly as it may seem, just the presence of a partner is calming, and during rough situations, their words of encouragement decrease tension. In an odd way I’m thankful they’re not all that helpful when it comes to defeating enemies as it leaves the strategy and skill up to the player.

Players can expect to get anywhere from 8-10 hours of playtime from Revelations; quite impressive for a handheld title. Players can extend the experience with Raid Mode, which takes players back through certain locations to kill progressively stronger enemies. The best part about Raid Mode is that players can hook up with their friends locally or online, and can even find a random partner to play with.

Despite my complaints, Revelations is a great game created by mixing classic fundamentals with brand new ideas. It’s just as much familiar as it is new, and this unique breed of Resident Evil is a very welcome addition to the established series. It utilizes the strengths of the 3DS, fixes and enhances the core Resident Evil gameplay, and is continuously enjoyable from beginning to end.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/09/2012 at 01:25 PM

Great Review! I'm really enjoying the game so far. This game truly sets the standards for what to expect from a AAA 3DS title.

Matt McLennan Staff Alumnus

02/09/2012 at 08:45 PM

That standard was already set by Super Mario 3D Land. ;D

But yes, its so far a great game. AND IT DOESN'T NEED THE CIRCLE PAD PRO. Whee.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

02/09/2012 at 09:47 PM

Dont get me wrong, I felt 3D Land set a Triple-A bar as well, but for a different genre. I meant to say that it set the bar for Cinematics, graphics and presentation from a Third Party. So far, Mario 3D Land, OoT3D and Revelations are my favorite 3DS titles.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

02/09/2012 at 01:25 PM

This sounds like a lot of fun.  I hope it isn't overshadowed by all the buzz about the new console release, it sounds very worthy of attention!

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