Resident Evil Revelations|
The Resident Evil franchise has been evolving, mutating if you will, much like the T-Virus that spawned this zombie-inspired series of video games and movies. Capcom is continually tweaking the formula, trying to breathe new life into the aging franchise, and while some of their efforts have been more miss than hit, no one can argue that they have created something wholly unique with Resident Evil: Revelations, now available for the Nintendo 3DS.
Resident Evil returns to its survival horror roots with a brand new storyline and a new level of tension and intrigue. A brand new setting delivers a more tense and intriguing gameplay experience than any Resident Evil to date, and built from the ground up to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS features, Resident Evil Revelations delivers outstanding visuals that bring the fear to life in multiple dimensions.
The Revelations story slips into the timeline somewhere between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, unveiling new adventures for Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. Jill and her new partner, Parker Luciani, have been sent on board a supposedly abandoned cruise ship in the Mediterranean, to search for Chris Redfield, based on his last known GPS coordinates. The ship hides danger around every corner as Jill and Parker explore the confined space of the ship and must face a menacing new horror that emerges from the darkness.
Adding a new unique horror setting to the series, Resident Evil Revelations gives players the chance to venture underwater as they try to escape the terrifying creatures that are roaming the ship. But even the water isn't safe as the creatures continue to attack from the depths while Jill and Parker make a desperate bid to make it off the ship alive.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Resident Evil has always challenged its fans with problematic controls. Things were starting to look up in Resident Evil 5, but Revelations returns to the dated tank-like controls of the earlier games, although you now have several alternate control schemes to help overcome these challenges. The most obvious choice, provided you are willing to drop $20 and turn your slim handheld into something a bit bulkier, is the Circle Pad Pro that essentially gives you that second analog stick. Personally, this is a bit extreme, and thankfully there are other built-in options that include using the face buttons to steer the camera and my personal favorite, the gyroscope.
Admittedly, the gyroscope takes a bit of getting used to, but once acclimated adds a whole new level of virtual reality to the experience. By tipping, tilting, and panning the 3DS around in physical space you control your viewpoint in synchronous real-time with the in-game environments. Not only is this an effective means of using your new Genesis scanning device for searching your environment, it also offers a much more precise method of aiming your 3D laser sight and achieving greater headshot accuracy.
It only took about 20 minutes for the gyroscope control scheme to become second nature, and once it did I was able to wander the levels almost entirely in first-person view, which allowed me to easily locate and identify hidden items within the levels. Unlike previous games, most of the bullets, keys, and healing herbs are hidden to the naked eye until first identified with the Genesis scanner, whose interface is not unlike Terminator vision, only green instead of red.
When the zombies and other mutants start popping up it merely took a tap on the touchscreen to switch to my pistol and I was able to use the same smooth gyroscopic motion to aim much easier than the analog stick ever allowed me to do. I was burning through ammo like crazy before but now my ammo inventory is always full.
Regardless of your camera control, the rest of the experience is fairly straightforward with a dedicated button for melee, while RT brings up aiming or first-person view, and LT allows you to move while aiming. The A button heals and the Y button does pretty much everything else. The touchscreen also plays an important part in accessing sub-menus and instant access to inventory items and equipment as well as solving a few interesting puzzles. Of course, these are the default controls and may be different based on your choices.
Revelations is not only the best looking 3DS game to date; it just may very well be the best looking Resident Evil game to date. It comes awfully close to besting Resident Evil 5 and when you factor in the absolute best 3D we’ve seen on the 3DS so far (surpassing even first-party Nintendo games), I’m going to have to declare this game the winner, but judge for yourself. Even if you turn the slider to 2D the game is mighty impressive with great character designs, smooth animations, loads of detail, and some of the best and spookiest environments the series has seen since the original. The 3D is so good you can even go into the options and crank it up even higher, although at the strongest setting I did start to get some eye fatigue. But at normal-max 3D my eyes could last longer than my 3DS battery, and I even caught myself playing the game while plugged into the wall. And when the game cuts away to the cinematics; well, just prepare to be even more amazed.
The sound design is a masterful blend of suspenseful score juxtaposed against perfectly timed moments of silence that have you straining to hear the subtle groans of the ship or the distance shuffling of a zombie, the howl of wind or splash of rain. The audio levels are surprisingly loud for the built-in speakers, but you’ll still want to use good headphones for the ultimate experience in acoustical terror. The dialogue is subtitled, but I found the words actually obscured important parts of gameplay graphics, so unless you are having real problems hearing, I recommend you turn subtitles off.
Revelations is divided into numerous chapters, perfectly sized for mobile gaming consumption. While most of the game takes place on the ship in present time you will flashback to other times, other characters, and other events as you experience a puzzling 10-12 hour adventure worthy of a console release. You’ll usually have the help of a computer-controlled companion that will help thin the zombie menace or at least distract them long enough so you can kill them, and unlike RE5, this time they won’t be looting all your ammo and herbs leaving you to die.
While two prominent players in the main story would scream “co-op potential” Capcom chose to leave the main game a strictly solo affair and instead added a new Raid Mode where two players can link up either locally or online via Wi-Fi and explore the environments from the story mode, killing zombies as they try to clear the levels and reach the exit. Players will earn points that can be redeemed for items and weapons, and you can even convert your 3DS Play Coins into Raid currency so start jogging if you need a new gun. The online play works well enough, but I found the local co-op a bit more engaging since you could talk to your partner.
I was late to hop on the 3DS bandwagon and I only have a handful of the top games for my 3DS so far, but Resident Evil: Revelations is by far one of the best if not “the best” game currently out for the system. The graphics are console quality and the 3D works – it really works with no real eye strain and it continues to work, even when moving the 3DS around using the gyroscopic movement controls. It’s kind of like viewing the world through a camera phone, only you are looking into an alternate universe. Even the story, mission design, and overall game length mirror that of a console title. Capcom has set the bar impossibly high for all future 3DS games, and I look forward to seeing who and what can ever surpass the quality this latest installment in the Resident Evil saga brings to Nintendo’s handheld.