Resident Evil: Revelations

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Resident Evil: Revelations for home consoles is a remastered version of last year’s 3DS game which made a valiant effort to reconnect with the series’ survival horror roots by including features such as limited ammo, dimly lit corridors and shambling enemies. The original game had incredible production values for a handheld title so being able to see all its visual detail on a big screen TV and hear the game’s haunting musical score through a decent sound system is a real treat for Resident Evil fans. The mission-based structure of the game, however, belies its portable roots, and unfortunately Revelations never sticks with a particular tone or atmosphere for long enough for you to truly lose yourself in its world. While the game serves up a generous dose of frights, the story mode’s chapters are often too brief to create the same sense of pervasive tension which characterised the first three games in the series.

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Revelations takes place in 2005 and is set between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5. The story is very much self-contained, however, and has little bearing on the series as a whole. Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) agents Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine are once again the central characters, although this time they begin in separate locations and the plot involves Jill trying to track Chris down on a derelict cruise liner called the SS Queen Zenobia. Of course it’s not long before you run into all sorts of monstrosities infected with the T-Abyss virus, and begin to unravel the secret machinations of a shady bioterrorist organisation called ‘Il Veltro.’

Revelations frequently switches between three teams comprised of two partners each over the course of the game’s six hour story mode. There’s a lot of gameplay variety as the missions involving Jill typically hearken back to the old-school Resident Evil titles while Chris’ chapters are more action orientated. Some of the best sections of the game involve trying to navigate through the flooded areas of a ship as you desperately search for safe zones where you can surface and catch your breath. These moments offer a completely new experience for fans of the series and invoke a sense of terror and dread which aren’t always achieved during other sections of gameplay.

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Like older games in the series, there’s a good selection of puzzles in Revelations and plenty of notes scattered around which do a great job of adding some context to the game’s complex plot. While it may be needlessly complicated as times, Revelations’ storyline offers plenty of visual spectacle thanks to the game’s lavish CG cut-scenes which have made the transition to HD particularly well.

Exploration plays a key role in many of Revelations’ chapters, and backtracking is common as you head towards your next mission marker. One of the interesting ways your AI partner can assist you during missions is by making a comment such as “We don’t have time for that” when you’re headed in the wrong direction. The level layout often has two paths branching out from a large area so knowing that you’re going the wrong way helps a great deal in getting to the next mission marker with minimal backtracking.

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Combat also forms a major part of Revelations’ gameplay although enemy diversity is not as impressive as in previous games in the series. The main type of enemy is called the Ooze which have sharp protrusions jutting out from their sickly-looking skin and a tendency to slide down from holes in the roof or burst out of restroom cubicles when you least expect it. Thankfully there’s an impressive selection of weapons to destroy these freakish foes including a variety of machineguns, shotguns, handguns and revolvers which can be augmented with custom parts usually found in out-of-the-way locations. As in Resident Evil 6, you can walk while aiming and shooting, and having the PS3’s right analog stick to adjust aim with is a big improvement over playing it on the 3DS where you had to buy a separate accessory if you wanted to enjoy this convenience.

Revelations’ multiplayer component consists of an online co-op experience called Raid Mode. This two player mode lets you team up with a friend or stranger and tackle a series of missions with similar level layouts and goals to the ones found in the game’s story mode. You can unlock new characters, outfits, weapons and weapon upgrades by levelling up your character and buy these items using BP which can be earned in both the offline and online components of the game. Two issues I stumbled upon in Raid Mode include there being a noticeable delay between when you shoot an enemy and when it recoils in pain, and not being able to pass through a door recently opened by your partner without it slamming in your face first. This latter problem was also present in the 3DS version of Revelations so it’s disappointing that Capcom hasn’t fixed it for the home console release.

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As far as Revelations’ visuals are concerned, Capcom has clearly put in a lot of work to transform the diminutive original into a game which still looks attractive when blown up to the size of the average HD TV. Some of the textures have been spruced up and the game runs at a smooth frame rate apart from when it auto-saves. Revelations’ graphics have a crisp quality to them, with minimal aliasing and impressive lighting. The most obvious sign that this game is based on a handheld title is the characters’ faces and hair which aren’t as detailed and natural-looking as your typical PS3 game. The loading times between chapters are also surprisingly lengthy on occasion, but thankfully there are just a handful of doors in the game which take a while to open in order to mask loading.

Resident Evil: Revelations is another well-designed, memorable entry in the series but its overall impact is somewhat diluted by an unfocused singleplayer campaign which fails to maintain tension for longer than a few minutes at a time, and a multiplayer mode which is not without a couple of issues. Resident Evil aficionados would do well to pick up this game at some point to experience an occasionally thrilling new storyline involving fan favourites Jill and Chris, but it’s not a must-buy title while it remains at full price.

Resident Evil: Revelations was reviewed on PlayStation 3