Game Review: Resident Evil Revelations (3DS)

Though a fan of the Resident Evil series, I’m going to admit right off the bat that I haven’t played them all. I played the original and the remake extensively, Zero, Code Veronica, and Resident Evil 4 on Gamecube and Wii, but I’ve only played a little bit of part 2, watched someone play parts of 3, and never played part 5 at all. Having said that, Resident Evil: Revelations may be one of my favorites in the series. At least, of those I’ve played.

It’s been argued that the series, which started out as slower paced survival horror, has “evolved” into third person action. Not having played part 5 (supposedly the biggest offender) I don’t necessarily agree. Resident Evil 4, directed by the creator of the original Resident Evil, was a shot of adrenaline and originality I feel the series needed right when it was going stale. Never had I played a game that felt so cinematic while allowing so much freedom, as I pushed bookcases in front of doors to delay the approaching hoards, only to have them  break through and continue the assault. In truth it did steer the series further in the direction of action, but it was still a horror game at heart and quite brilliant at that.

Revelations, exclusive to the 3DS, does an amazing job of blending the survival horror aspects of the originals with the faster paced action, improved control and game mechanics that part 4 brought to the table. You’ll have sections where you must conserve ammo while slowly making your way through tight corridors, never knowing when that eerie sound’s going to pop out, then you’ll have a section where you’re blasting through a seemingly endless barrage of creatures, effectively breaking up any chance of monotony.

These sections are broken up into “episodes” where you’ll frequently cut between the main story of Jill Valentine aboard the abandoned cruise ship, Queen Zenobia, and various other characters and locations. At first I worried that this would pull me out of the main story, breaking the mood and tension aboard the abandoned ship, but I quickly found that these brief story cuts helped to inject variety before the game even has a chance of beginning to grow stale, while also allowing Capcom to relegate most of the action sequences to these story arcs, keeping the slower paced horror intact for the main section (though the later half of the game unfortunately devolves into a bit too much action for my taste; save the last episode, which is quite awesome).

I won’t delve too much into the story or even enemy types to avoid spoiling this game for those who haven’t yet played it, because frankly it’s best going into these games as blind as possible. If I had some of these boss encounters spoiled for me I’d have been terribly disappointed. And trust me, two in particular are among the most freaky bosses I’ve encountered in a game.

All you need to know is that you’ll play as fan favorites Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield and some new faces, as you explore an abandoned cruise ship (and some sections on land) inhabited by mutated humans and animals, while investigating a bio-terrorism group who’s seemingly behind it all. The infected humans sometimes resemble something out of Silent Hill, while still retaining some of what made them human, allowing a few to speak, making them far more terrifying than the traditional moaning zombies of the originals.

Visually, it’s a few steps above everything else on the 3DS, proving the claims of the little systems power being on par or above that of Wii. There’s some shaders and lighting effects on display that I’ve never seen Nintendo’s little white box pull off, while maintaining a steady framerate (outside of loading sections) with some amazing glasses free 3D on display. That isn’t to say the 3D is without it’s problems. There’s an option to adjust the 3D depth, and though I prefer to play with the 3D on it’s strongest section, there’s some heavy ghosting effects in dark, high contract environments. This fades with time, but it takes some eye adjustment. Some may prefer to keep the 3D slider on a lower section for this one, but the 3D is so great that I muscle through the initial eye aches to get the full effect.

The audio is nothing to scoff at either. I’d highly recommend playing this one with headphones. You’ll hear every little sound of the ship moaning as the waves rock it back and forth, every scuttling thing inside the air ducts, and every haunting voice that echoes through the corridors. The semi surround sound on display is also impressive, as it is in most 3DS games I’ve played. If a creature is approaching from the right, you’ll hear it in your right ear. Combined with the lighting and environmental effects, you’ll feel the mood this game bleeds immediately upon boarding the Zenobia, as rain pelts the deck and waves splash over the sides. On the other hand the music can be a mixed bag for me personally, shifting from amazing, creepy piano tracks during the slow sections, into generic Hollywood orchestration during action scenes.

This is one of the first 3DS games compatible with the Circle Pad Pro; an attachment that adds a second slider pad to the 3DS for camera control and aiming. I’m not going to comment on this attachment as I don’t own it and I didn’t use it. I feel the game controlled beautifully with the default controls and the gyro enabled for aiming. This aiming method, which I also used in Zelda for 3DS, allows for faster and more accurate aiming than any analogue, while still allowing free movement at the same time.

For some there may be an issue with losing the “sweet spot” with 3D enabled while moving the system around, but I found that with very little practice I was able to utilize the gyro aiming with 3D on it’s strongest setting, without any problems. The use of the touchscreen for puzzle solving, maps, weapon switching (which can also be done via the d-pad) and other options, is also handled very well. And for the first time there’s swimming sections, which control great as well and if you’re an invert y person like me, note the option is there to switch for swimming, but isn’t available until you get to a swimming section for some bizarre reason.

There’s horror, action, weapons and upgrades to find and equip via an item box which reminded me of the original resident evil (though simplified) and much more. The main campaign ran me somewhere in the vein of 9-10 hours, which doesn’t include the unlockable “Hell Mode” or new game+. And if that’s not enough, there’s the raid mode, which can be played single player or cooperative online, which places you in sections of the game fighting off enemies while finding and collecting upgrades and leveling up. I haven’t explored the raid mode that much yet (a few hours on and offline) but I can see that taking up twice as much of my time as the main campaign at least. Online was fun and seamless, with no lag in sight.

If you’re a fan of Resident Evil or horror games in general, and you have a 3DS, you owe it to yourself (and Capcom) to pick this up. If you don’t own a 3DS yet, this game might be a good reason to consider it.

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