The first time a zombie used an AK-47 to shoot back at me in Resident Evil 5, I knew that my beloved franchise was officially dead. In Resident Evil 6, that fear was driven home: the franchise has been westernized to death. However, when the idea behind Resident Evil: Revelations was exposed--that it would be a blending of the old school and the new--my interest was piqued once again. After a somewhat brief tenure on the 3DS, Capcom has brought Revelations to the big screen, and while it is a step in the right direction, there are just too many blemishes to warrant a purchase.
The story of Revelations is set between RE 4 and RE 5 following Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield, and a round of very forgettable secondary cast members. It begins simply with Jill searching for Chris on an abandoned luxury liner, and then spirals wildly out of control into standard Resident Evil conspiracy theory storytelling. It’s overly complicated and unusually difficult to follow.
Revelations brings all the Resident Evil clichés to their glory for better and for worse. Convoluted, overly-melodramatic narrative? Check. Wacky characters and women whose wardrobes set the females in gaming back a decade? Double-check. Most importantly though, there’s a setting that’s a creepy character in and of itself. Gone are RE 6’s linear, set-piece-packed drags; in their places are claustrophobic hallways, limited ammo, and emblem-encrusted keys. It should be refreshing to fans that have longed for a new direction.
The problem with Revelations, however, is that it was intended to be played on a handheld in short, 20-30 minute bursts. This is evident through the length of the game. Split into 12 episodes (which consist of around one to three sections a piece), this six-hour campaign suits itself perfectly to on-the-go zombie killing, but not so much to couch gaming. It can be beaten in one long sitting, whereas if it were broken up into different sessions on a handheld, it would obviously have much longer legs. While the campaign is short, an additional co-op playthrough could almost double the play time.
As far as visuals go, the translation to HD isn’t that great. Character models--stiff lipped and off-sync during cutscenes--are acceptable enough, but environments are drab, ill-textured, and repetitive. The stuttering framerate when opening doors or riding elevators fails to disguise loading screens which also hit in between gameplay and cutscenes. Lighting is alright, but a lot of time is spent in well-lit environments, which is disappointing. Enemy designs are pretty interesting, but diversity seems to come up short, since most enemies are basically variations on the base baddie. Revelations may have looked great in the palm of your hands, but not so much on a stretched screen.
Sound is also a disappointing transfer. The voice acting and cutscene dialogue is laughable--probably on purpose, this is Resident Evil. When present, the musical score is solid, but when it’s off, I hope you love the sound of rubbing latex, rattling gear, and creaky doors because that’s what will be filling your ears for most of the game. Gun sounds are also weak and firing the base pistol doesn’t even cause vibration feedback from the controller.
There are some great things about Revelations despite its poor transition to consoles, and that’s because the game itself was solid to begin with. The gunplay feels right at home and hidden weapon parts can be found to upgrade your arsenal. It’s also a breath of fresh air to actually search for items because you need them. However, the best part of Revelationsis the environment. The large luxury liner that most of the game takes place on is injected with that old-school Resident Evil charm. There’s backtracking, looting, annoying locked doors and electronic systems that are always lacking power. It doesn’t reach the heights of the Spencer Mansion or the Racoon City Police Station, but it does echo the environments of RE yesteryear.
The biggest problem I had with Revelations was the boss encounters. Usually the highlight of Resident Evil games, here they are exhaustive grinds. It’s fitting that the game takes place on the high seas because these bosses are bullet sponges. Burt Gummer doesn’t have the ammunition to dispatch these bastards. I had made my way through a big chunk of the game on normal difficulty, pursuing the achievement of not dying throughout the entire campaign, only to encounter a boss who soaked up my entire supply of ammunition and all the ammo littered around its lair. After depleting all of said ammo, grenades, and seven herb tablets, I was forced to engage this sonofabitch with hand-to-hand techniques, resulting in my death. I was displeased to find that there were multiple bosses throughout the game with the same putrid design philosophy. Since these bosses deplete entire ammo supplies, even on the normal setting, each one is a spike in difficulty, making the flow and pace of the game uneven and frustrating.
Additions to the console version include a new enemy called the Wall Blister that attacks from shallow water. There is also a new, harder difficulty setting called “Infernal Mode.” This recycles enemy locations and ramps up the intensity tenfold--really though, making it past the first enemy encounter was an exhaustive effort. However, if you love your first playthrough enough, this could give an excuse for another playthrough. If you have a Wii U, Revelations includes Mii functionality and can utilize off-TV play.
Resident Evil: Revelations has flaws exposed only when playing on consoles, but since it’s such a large step in the right direction it gives me hope that someday the franchise may return to true greatness. Revelations is priced at a “budget” 50 bucks. If it had been priced at 30 I would say it almost warrants a purchase, but c’mon, this is Capcom. If you don’t have a 3DS and have lost faith in this franchise, give Revelations a rental.
Shaun Bolen is a freelance reviewer for ScrewAttack.com. After interning with the site for eight months, he left to continue his education. Shaun holds a degree in Foreign Language with an English BA on the way, and is now back with ScrewAttack to write reviews in his spare time. He can't wait for GTA V to come out, and enjoys taking emotive black-and-white self-portraits.
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