Tuesday 31 January 2012

Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil: Revelations is the next hand-held exclusive installment into Capcom’s iconic franchise. While the series has in a sense, gone through a loss of identity from survival-horror to action-horror, the transition has evolved Resident Evil and ultimately made it grow in popularity. Resident Evil: Revelations decides to take a shot at blending classic elements with modern gameplay by setting one half of its tale on an abandoned ocean liner, with the surroundings reminiscent of the claustrophobic Mansion in the original game. While the second half is set across various locations with modern action taking centre stage and less scares more bullets being the ideology behind those sections. Intertwined together, we have a very good entry in the Resident Evil series, but one that clearly shows what style of Resident Evil gameplay is more enjoyable than the other.

Revelations is set between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5 with both Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield returning as lead protagonists. Unfortunately they aren’t side-by-side in this adventure as Revelations’ events occur in an episodic structure, with Jill partnered by Parker while Chris has a new female companion Jessica. Naturally the supporting characters aren’t as interesting as the two veterans but they provide occasionally interesting dialogue and help keep the game from feeling too lonesome (which ironically is what classic Resident Evil fans would have wanted). The story unfolds after a bioterrorist attack occurs on the artificial island of Terragrigia and then the inevitable release of a new strain of virus called the T-Abyss Virus aboard the Queen Zenobia a year later. With Chris confirmed missing, it’s up to Jill to find her old partner.

The episodic structure of Revelations makes it extremely apparent that the game is split into two different styles of gameplay. Much of your time at the beginning will be spent exploring the abandoned Queen Zenobia, which is a whole heap of fun. It really takes you back to Resident Evil’s roots by implementing nice jump-scares, bringing back limited ammo, forcing players to engage with puzzles while both atmosphere and tension are constantly high. The new type of enemies you encounter are called Ooze and while they aren’t initially terrifying in comparison to your traditional zombie, their ability to pop up out of anywhere makes them a fantastic new addition to the series. When the game sets you up for an action sequence is where Revelations takes massive influence from Resident Evil 4 and 5. Certain timed segments where you have to fend off a barrage of enemies quickly turns Revelations from a survival-horror game into an action-horror splice, but at least it has the courtesy to acknowledge it’s doing so. This isn’t a bad thing, on the contrary these sections are very enjoyable, but when placed side-by-side to Resident Evil’s traditional formula, one can very easily see what is the more engaging game type.

When you’ve finished playing through Revelations’ campaign mode, you can rest assured that there’s still plenty of fun to be had with the game. Not only do you unlock a harder difficulty, but Raid mode is always available to satisfy your thirst for high score dominance. You can play optionally two-player (locally or online) and eliminate all enemies in a given area as quickly as possible. Very reminiscent of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, Raid mode is a load of fun offering an experience points system and weapon upgrades to keep you coming back for more. This time Capcom have done it right by coupling the experience with a fully-fledged game, as opposed to simply bringing it out as a stand-alone title.

From a technical perspective, Revelations is a very solid game. The graphics are incredibly impressive, the best Nintendo 3DS has to offer by a long way. The 3D is implemented well, offering a sense of depth that adds to the tension and horror, especially around the more claustrophobic ocean liner. Narrative and dialogue are passable, with certain characters having abysmal lines but thankfully Jill and Chris have the majority of camera time. The story while entertaining, feels somewhat convoluted and the episodic structure doesn’t really do the game any favours. Perhaps that’s me talking as an old school fan, but I can’t stand when events jump from past, to even further in the past, to present, to a few days after the initial past segment – it gets hard to follow and confusing. Nevertheless, that aside, it follows the Resident Evil formula and it’s worth sticking through to find out what happens at the end.

Revelations also supports the new Circle Pad Pro, which comes bundled with certain copies of the game. Initially your button layout uses the circle pad to move and aim, the right shoulder button to raise your weapon and Y to shoot. This is your traditional Resident Evil gameplay-style as your character is without the ability to move and aim a weapon. When you introduce the Circle Pad Pro however, the game opts for your modern Resident Evil 5 style controls except you can actually move while your weapon is raised – welcome to the 21st century Resident Evil! The ability to move the camera using the additional circle pad is also a welcome advantage. While not necessary, Nintendo’s new peripheral does make Revelations a more user-friendly experience.

In all honesty I am surprised how great Resident Evil: Revelations has turned out. I was always very excited for the title but had my reservations on it coming out for Nintendo 3DS. Well I’ve been proven wrong as the machine has held its own and has really pushed itself to allow Resident Evil: Revelations to flourish into a beautiful and well designed game. An impressive yet somewhat unbalanced blend of survival-horror and action-horror make up another successful instalment in the Resident Evil franchise. If you’ve finished playing your Mario games and are looking for a new handheld title, this is certainly the game for you.

9.0 | Gameplay |
Two different gameplay styles intertwine together to bring the best of both Resident Evil’s survival and action roots. Well-designed levels coupled with plenty of scares and a wealth of content makes Revelations a whole heap of fun to play.
9.0 | Presentation |
Revelations highlights the potential of the Nintendo 3DS by showing us just what the machine can do. Beautiful graphics and fantastic character and environment presentation makes this the best looking game on 3DS yet.

8.0 | Replay Value |
You’ll go through Revelations at least twice and then get stuck into Raid mode, which has replay value written all over it. If you have a friend you can play with, then even better.
9.0 | Final Thoughts |
Resident Evil: Revelations sets a precedent for games on the Nintendo 3DS. Title like Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D will now have a lot to live up to because this is a shining example of what Nintendo’s handheld can do. It is a great Resident Evil game at heart, embodying both traditional and modern elements of the series making it an engaging and appealing addition to the franchise until Resident Evil 6 comes out at the end of the year.

Igor Kharin.

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