Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Resident Evil: Revelations

Resident Evil: Revelations is a game about two people and then some other people.  That’s about as much of the plot as I had managed to gather in the first hour or so.  Partly because my throat and ears started to get a little dry and sore, for seemingly no reason.  I did come to realise thirty minutes later this was due to me screaming in terror once every ten minutes or so.  Though it isn’t as scary as other games in the series, or even other games on the market, such as ‘Condemned’ (drills right into the fear centre of your brain and take a piss in it) and ‘Project Zero II’ on the Nintendo Wii (the first time a ghost appeared on the screen it may as well have appeared on my lap as I was immediately rushed to the emergency room and sedated with a punch to the face), it still gets you in a cold sweat from time to time.

The Resident Evil series, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, originally looked and sounded terrible with some of the most famously bad dialogue and acting ever created, it made up for all this by causing all your bones to disintegrate with fear.  They progressed through the initial horror and intensity of zombies, through a two-sides-of-the-story idea with the fabulous Resident Evil 2 and then with the more traditional Code Veronica.  The series then went out with a bang with the sudden appearance of the most intense enemy, Nemesis, who unlike the zombies and mutated beings (that were dumbfounded by complex tasks such as pushing a door or looking through a window) would chase you down and kick through doors like they were semolina and command to be scared, and you would, of course, obey. 

Ah, classic trouser-browning Resident Evil.

Though it has been said Resident Evil 4 was pretty excellent it doesn’t fall into the category of survival horror.  I don’t disagree with its excellence it just wasn’t particularly scary.  I remember completing it and thinking that it must be, that I was getting too used to the fear elements in the games, and went back to replay the second one to test my theory.  Contrary to what I believed however it wasn’t long before I was strapping myself into my ‘adult diapers’ before pressing ‘ON’ on my Gamecube. 

After playing Resident Evil 5 for a mere twenty minutes I started to experience a specific kind of exciting-boredom usually explained by the phrase ‘Directed by Michael Bay’.  I abandoned it as fast as my hands would allow and avoided all instalments thereafter.  If you’re a fan of the games, or have even asked anyone about Resident Evil: Revelations they have probably uttered a variation on the following phrase.
“It’s brilliant, it’s just like the original ones.”

It’s not.  At least not in the ways you might expect.  It plays from an over the shoulder camera, shoot-fest camera angle and has absolutely no typewriters, or ink ribbons to be found, though there are plenty of bullets and green herbs (now in a handy pill form) available.  It makes for mild amounts of Horror, little amounts of Survival.

The ways in which they are seemingly the same is in the case of the acting and dialogue.   You start the game off playing as two characters simultaneously ‘Jill Valentine’ from Resident Evil fame and a new recruit (to me anyway) ‘Parker’; allegedly incredibly intelligent and skilled practitioners of zombie fighting and in Jill’s case, ‘unlocking’.  However they come across as so tiresomely stupid that they frequently require other people to finish their sentences for them, in even the most obvious logical situations.  An example:
“If their coordinates are in the ocean then they can’t be in the mountains…that must mean…that they are….”
“On a ship”
Oh yeah, on a ship, I was just gonna say ‘on a ship’.
Yeah it's the 3DS version but check out dat dialogue.

Mere moments later after watching Jill collapse suddenly to the floor in a room with a plastic mannequin version of her old partner as it fills up with gas, Parker eventually offers the insight ‘It’s a trap’.  There are also many uses of the old school Resi favourite ‘What is this?’ in situations where the ’What’ and the ‘This’ are so blindingly obvious you could write a short story about it.  I swear I wouldn’t trust these two to pull a cracker and then read out the joke.

A personal peeve is the control system; this won’t bother anyone who doesn’t live in the upside down brain world of inverted axis.  For some reason my brain thinks it makes perfect sense for me to pull down to raise my head (as if grabbing the hair of your character and pulling it down) and up to face downwards (pushing it up, still with a handful of hair, forcing the characters head towards the ground to eat mud, as a punishment for talking so much nonsense).  While Revelations offers you the opportunity to invert the axis while aiming your weapon, it does not offer you this opportunity when controlling the camera causing flipping between aiming and looking for an escape nearly impossible.  It doesn’t help that my muscle memory seems to suddenly change at random anyway, so this becomes like learning a whole different language.  A weird tribal one with clicks and whistles and no Latin roots.

The other thing that sands out is the disproportionate strength between the bad guys and the severely bad guys.  I could take down the standard enemies holding the controller blindfolded while trying to untangle three wires and a shoelace, and eat a sausage roll.  The ‘boss enemies’, though understandably more difficult, are so difficult that my strategy guide started to visibly weep.  

Eventually you get to play as Chris Redfield, and he has become replaced by an appallingly unlikable character that you will find yourself wishing that the red goop Barry found in the original Resident Evil really was Chris’s blood.  Every time he pretends not to notice his partner hitting on him with less than subtle hints like ‘I bet all the girls give you an S rating’ and ‘Did you ever ‘do it’ with Jill in the first game?  Making both Chris and Jill absolutely nothing like what we were led to believe in the earlier games.  I even wrote a short poem describing my feelings on it.
Moron Employing
Please Stop This
Childhood Destroying

The game is ok, and not without merit, the weapon upgrading is fun and the hunt for handprints is acceptable, nothing amazing though.  Still scares the crap out of you if you play in the dark at 4am with a headset on.  I never finished the game though because the character, Raymond, made me kick my TV screen in half out of irritation.  Give it a go if you want to know how it feels to be bored and petrified at the same time.

David Roberts, CeX Ann Street, Belfast

Resident Evil: Revelations at CeX

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