Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: Feburary 7, 2012
ESRB: M for Mature
Resident Evil has a tendency to use off-series games to fill in the gaps of time left in the numbered games. Specifically, it has a tendency to fill in gaps where nobody had any particular questions. The most recent endeavor into that field is Resident Evil: Revelations. Fortunately for everyone involved, with the move to the 3DS, plus some of that good old fashioned Resident Evil magic, Revelations proves that even that mortar between the bricks of the series can be pretty darn awesome.
Resident Evil: Revelations takes place between the fourth and fifth games in the numbered series. The story follows fan-favorite Jill Valentine, partnered with new character Parker Luciani, while the two look for Chris Redfield and Jessica Sherawat, who disappeared during an investigation. While looking on a ship named the Queen Zenobia, what do you know, those B.O.W.'s that replaced zombies are all over the place. In standard Resident Evil fashion, players are introduced to some intrigue, betrayal, and no small amount of twists while the cast of the game searches tirelessly for the answers behind all the goings-on.
At its core, Revelations is a great compromise between what the series once was and what the series is. Combat has been smoothed over to a point where it's actually manageable, and, dare I say, even fun at times. While this causes the horror element in the series to take yet another hit in the name of action, it keeps the flow of the game up really well. The movement isn't as tank-like as it has been in the past, but feels more like an old station wagon or something to that effect, where players can't really expect to turn on a dime, but it doesn't wholly cripple one's ability to do battle with multiple enemies, which is a pretty common occurrence in the game. Simply put, the combat is easily one of the most solid parts of my entire experience with the game.
Not far off from that, however, is the aesthetic of the game. Character models look excellent, with the texture of clothing, hair, and equipment being frankly extremely impressive for a handheld. A lot of set designs are a little flat, but the lighting in the areas and the other parts of the design work out to make it look surprisingly good. Enemies follow the same sort of design that most of the B.O.W.-type enemies from the series took, being gross, twisted monstrosities that look excellent in the game. This is another title for the 3DS to tout its 3D with, as any amount of time with it (including an ability to enhance the 3D in-game) feels a lot more natural than it does with many other games.
Depth of field in a lot of areas may not necessarily make them better rooms or anything, but it looks good, and accomplishes what the 3D was seemingly meant to. Well, maybe not looks good as it was all grungy and B.O.W.-filled, but it was yuckers in the best way it could be. This doesn't translate to the pre-rendered cutscenes, but those still look alright as well. The attractiveness of Revelations does come at a cost, though, as, even with the 3DS focusing exclusively on playing the game, I had gotten some lag when dealing with going through some doors. It wasn't necessarily disruptive to gameplay, but on a console, that is always an unsettling situation.
Characters are the lifeblood of the plot in Revelations, and we see the recurrence of the personalities of the familiar characters in the game, along with an occasionally seen display of some pretty superior acting chops by their respective voices. Namely, Jill seems to nail it for a lot of the scenes, and really secures herself as one of my favorite characters in the series through this game. Their personalities show a fidelity to the source material while showing a degree of growth over all the time that players have spent with the characters.
As for the new people involved, Parker and some of the non-playable characters have shown to have equally as superb voice acting skills. There are some characters, such as Jessica, who have some pretty bad voice acting, but it isn't terribly distracting, so it is forgivable in the context. There are definitely some cheesy bits that come up, but overall, the new characters are well-done and, more importantly, engaging. They mesh well with characters like Chris and Jill, making for quite a well-constructed cast. The story may be pretty normal fare for a Resident Evil game, but the characters make it quite a joy to navigate.
An important part of Revelations is that it's on a handheld system. This isn't always the easiest delivery method for a game so anchored in the story, but Capcom rose to the challenge in spades. In order to tell a full story, Revelations will skip from character to character in some occasions, as well as breaking up parts of the story with cutscenes in order to give solid stopping points in the story.
Each segment is generally around 10 to 20 minutes long, so it's very good for pick-up-and-play, and loading the game will give players a recap of what happened in the story last time, just in case the small details have been forgotten. It would be nice, though, if the "what happened last time" wouldn't always play when players go from episode to episode, as, you know, that's the part we just played, so we probably remember. It is skippable, so it's probably a nitpicky inconvenience, but it can be a little annoying.
Along the main campaign, there are also Raid Missions. Raid Missions allow players to, either solo or with other people, play through areas in order to reach the goal at the end. Actions throughout will grant players experience and items to be used in future playthroughs, as well as currency to buy different items. It's somewhat reminiscent of Resident Evil 5, in that players can get together to run these missions to unlock other characters and such.
This is sort of the crux of a lot of handhelds; while running a campaign over and over can appeal to some people, a lot of people want a game mode to use to interact with others or to just play for a few minutes. Overall, the Raid Mode is a bonus with nearly no drawbacks whatsoever. Really, the only downside that I saw with the online mode here was that there didn't seem to be any particular way to communicate with one's partner, so it wasn't that much different than playing with a particularly sophisticated (well... depending on the other person) AI.
Resident Evil: Revelations is a credit to its series, to its system, and to anyone with the fortune to play it. There are several issues with the game, but definitely nothing game-breaking. Anyone who enjoyed the last few Resident Evil games, and is looking to fill out his or her 3DS library, Resident Evil: Revelations is definitely a solid place to put one's money. The kooky in that Resident Evil-style story and well-written characters complement each other in a way that shows that Capcom is really quite comfortable with the series by this point. Like the various viruses in the series that plague mankind, Resident Evil: Revelations is strong, hardy, and probably won't be stopped any time soon.
+ Well-written characters
+ Gameplay that fits on the 3DS very well
+ Graphically superior game, especially for a handheld
+ Excellent pick-up-and-playability
- Occasionally spotty voice acting is magnified next to some really good voice acting
- Sometimes laggy on 3DS hardware
- Online gameplay seems to have no communication options
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Resident Evil: Revelations may not be perfect, but it is definitely a worthy selection for the library of fans of the series and of the genre.
Click here to view the article