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Resident Evil: Revelations

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Survival Horror/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

The exact phrase "survival horror" tends to bring back memories of carefully managing your inventory, conserving ammunition, and scouring areas for elusive save points. With the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005, these conventions were more or less jettisoned from the genre. There was a clear, defined shift towards a more action-oriented experience, and it was apparent throughout the genre from then on. While the fight was usually one for survival, the game often gave your main character (Leon Kennedy, Isaac Clarke, whoever) enough tools of destruction to survive -- and comfortably, at that. Capcom attempts to find a middle ground with Resident Evil: Revelations, an interesting experiment that meets with much more success than failure.

As of this time, Resident Evil: Revelations is the best-looking 3DS game available. There really isn't any room for argument. It's technically impressive and makes pretty great use of the 3D effect in both gameplay and cutscenes. While it doesn't measure up to the visuals achieved on a high-end computer or gaming console, it's easily on par with Resident Evil 4. Character models are impressive -- with the exception of Raymond, whose ridiculous hair makes him better suited for the circus than an anti-terrorism agency. Some of their costumes (ahem, Jessica) are unbelievably impractical, but they look cool. Enemy designs are classic Resident Evil fare, though there isn't a whole lot of variation. The environment is the real attention-grabber this time around; a derelict cruise ship is a fantastic setting for a Resident Evil game, and the Queen Zenobia has everything a cruise ship should have -- make of that what you will. A handful of in-game loading sequences causes the game to hitch up and freeze for a few seconds at a time, but you'll come to learn exactly when these hiccups will occur.

Resident Evil: Revelations tries its best to follow its console brethren in the sound department, but fails in a few key areas. For starters, the soundtrack is quality stuff. When there's no music, the creepy ambience adds a nice layer of tension. The voice acting is hammier and cheesier than a Monte Cristo sandwich, and longtime fans should know to expect that. The pulpy story borders on silly on more than one occasion, and any degree of self-awareness would kill the horror vibe. Jill and Chris are stock heroic, and the supporting characters are standard sidekick. While most should be able to tolerate Parker's sketchy accent, I have a strong feeling that players will be easily annoyed by Quint and Jessica. Sound effects are the low point; I can only blame the 3DS's terrible speakers for so much. Guns and explosions sound fuzzy, and every time a bullet strikes flesh, it sounds like a sheet of paper is being crumpled up.


Gameplay:

Resident Evil: Revelations takes place between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. A year has passed since the solar-powered floating city of Terragrigia was destroyed as the result of the actions of a terrorist organization called Il Veltro. The story begins as the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA for short) loses contact with agents Chris Redfield and Jessica Sherawat. BSAA head O'Brian sends Jill Valentine and Parker Luciani on a search-and-rescue mission to their last known coordinates: a cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia. Of course, this is a Resident Evil game, and it should come to nobody's surprise that the liner is infested with monsters.

Resident Evil: Revelations is set up in a serialized format, much like 2010's Alan Wake. The single-player campaign is split into a dozen episodes, each beginning with a "Previously on" recap. It's a neat touch that fits the franchise well, but it also results in a couple of different perspectives. You'll spend most of the campaign playing as Jill, but at times, you'll switch to other characters and get a bigger piece of the picture. The obvious alternative is Chris, but you'll get your share of time with others, including two new characters: Quint (codename Jackass) and Keith (codename Grinder). These characters are supposed to serve as comic relief, but they wear out their welcome really quickly.

Once you finish the campaign, you'll unlock Raid mode. This is a two-player cooperative mode that allows you to shoot your way through snippets of single-player levels. It's a faster-paced, score-based alternative that comes with a leveling-up/upgrading system. If only the main campaign gave you partners as reliable as the ones you'll encounter here.


Difficulty:

Resident Evil: Revelations can be a brutal experience if you don't go in with the right mindset. The perspective might be the same, but make no mistake: this isn't Resident Evil 5. Nearly every action you take has a consequence. Ammo is comparatively scarce; you'll be painfully aware of every single shot you take. Resident Evil: Revelations is all about the fight-or-flight response. Both are valid options, but I recommend flight whenever it's a viable tactic. Apart from your survival, there's often nothing to be gained from combat. When enemies die, they simply melt into piles of goo.

The Queen Zenobia's corridors tend to fill up with B.O.W.s rather quickly, and it's very easy to become overwhelmed. Despite my recommendation, combat is often your only option, and you must make the best with what you have. Scan every room for ammo pick ups, and scan as many live enemies as possible. Keeping your inventory as full as possible is a must, as the game's bosses are capable of absorbing a ridiculous amount of punishment.


Game Mechanics:

The default control scheme in Resident Evil: Revelations is irksome at best and infuriating at worst. However, it's entirely the fault of the 3DS hardware. The scheme itself is identical to the one featured in last year's mediocre Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. I still recommend switching from first-person aiming to third, and I also recommend switching the aiming speed to "Fast." Turning speed is painfully slow, and the dodge mechanic is almost broken, so you'll have to use the quick turn mechanic more often than not.

Let's address the elephant in the room. It looks like Resident Evil: Revelations has become the poster child for the recently-released Circle Pad Pro. I don't have one, but based on what I've heard, it's safe to assume that it makes the game much more playable and enjoyable. Of course, that means shelling out another twenty on an already full-priced game. You'll know if it's for you.

Resident Evil: Revelations places more emphasis on exploration than previous games in the series. If you're willing to do some backtracking later in the game, you'll find some rewards. My favorites are the unlockable weapon upgrades. Improving the firing rate, firing power, stunning abilities, and other attributes is incredibly helpful, especially later in the game.

One of the most notable additions in Revelations is the Genesis device. No, not the one from the Great Expectations episode of South Park. This is a scanning device that can reveal hidden items -- but it does more than that. By scanning enemies and points of interest, you increase a percentage. Once that percentage reaches 100%, you are rewarded with a green herb. Scanning live enemies yields more percentage points than scanning dead ones. This mechanic doesn't make much sense, but the risk/reward dynamic is welcome here.

You may spend the majority of the campaign accompanied by a partner, but that doesn't mean they help you out. All they do is tag along and occasionally pause to fire a few slow shots at enemies. They don't heal you when you're hurt or intervene when a monster has you in its claws. They seem to only exist to satisfy narrative requirements and justify contrived gameplay sequences. For example, you must protect Quint as he hacks a database.

It isn't without its quirks, and it's not best-in-franchise material, but Resident Evil: Revelations is the most fun I've had with my 3DS as of yet. It's lengthy, satisfying, and challenging. If you're a Resident Evil fan (longtime or otherwise), you can't really go wrong with this one.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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