Is this a return to old-school survival horror action? Our Resident Evil Revelations review finds out.
Published on May 20, 2013
Opening with dark, dank, tension filled corridors reminiscent of the very first Resident Evil mansion, nostalgic nerves are jangling from the moment Resident Evil Revelations reveals itself. Remakes are still all the rage, but in a time where there are more video games released than most people can afford, only the truly special ones can be afforded space in a gamer’s income.
Regardless of the reaction to last year’s Resident Evil 6, Capcom isn’t giving the series up without a fight, and thankfully the HD version of Revelations is somewhat of a return to form, giving a whole new audience the chance to face-off against yet more disturbing monster creations and the partaking of the herb.
Resident Evil Revelations - A Traditionally Nonsensical Story
Kicking off with a simple search and rescue operation, Jill Valentine and her partner Parker Luciani are looking for Chris Redfield and his partner Jessica Sherawat, last heard from aboard the HMS Queen Zenobia – a massive ship floating lost on the ocean waves. Obviously, as is always the case in Resident Evil, things have gone wrong, subterfuge is present, and nothing is as it seems.
In fact, Chris and Jessica aren’t on the Zenobia at all, they are off in search of the bad guys in a snowy, mountainous area. Revelations flips between the two sets of characters multiple times during each chapter, and there’s also a flashback setting focussing on the (now) lost city of Terragrigia – a fully self-sustaining solar-powered city that was decimated thanks to a bio-terrorist attack by none other than the same gang that Chris and Jessica are chasing.
Revelations has a serviceable narrative, but newcomers to the series will find it all a bit bizarre and pretty ham-fisted. There are plenty of clichés, no truly worthwhile ground trodden, and the plot twists in the later game sections are all fairly obvious. There’s a heavy reliance on knowledge of the franchise, too, and whilst there is an attempt to make Revelations self-contained in parts, you’re playing as characters that are long-standing series mainstays.
Tank Controls Are A Thing Of The Past (Almost.)
Whereas the original games will feel very dated when played today, Revelations is best compared to Resident Evil 4 or 5 in terms of gameplay. Movement is fully controlled by the analogue sticks, and you don’t have to stop and shoot. It’s a tricky thing to get right, but the close quarters feel to the Zenobia sections of the game feel good almost because of the controls. Firing off a few rounds only to realise the oncoming monstrosity is going to get to you before you can kill it, forcing retreat and readjustment; it makes for a tense affair, and creates an inescapable dread that few games get right.
Most of Revelations channels that survival horror game feel, but the sections that veer away from the Zenobia do end up seeming too much like a generic third-person shooter, which is a shame. It just serves to prove that Resident Evil is best when in tight, poorly lit corridors. The co-op that has become a series mainstay nowadays causes some odd moments in this HD remake, too.
In fact, as early as the second chapter, playing as Chris you’ll find yourself falling from a sufficient height as to temporarily incapacitate yourself. While you wait for your AI partner to come and help you, you’re attacked by mutated wolves. Despite them only taking two shots (for the most part) to kill, they are so great in number, that fighting the camera angle (which feels too zoomed in on a sitting, injured Chris) whilst also fighting off the onslaught is an annoying moment. This is worsened by the fact that once the wolves are successfully fended off, Chris’ injury vanishes incredibly quickly; it’s just daft.
The enemy design is somewhat disappointing, as well. Not focussing on Zombies gives room for a bit more creative freedom, but instead, this new enemy type (simply named “the Ooze”) are all similar in design with variations that dictate their attack methods. Whereas modern enemy design will allow strategic attack, most of Revelations’ enemies just require lots of bullets to stop. Boss design is slightly better, but suffers from turning one of them into a repeat enemy, whereas the rest are so traditionally Resident Evil in scope and design, that they just don’t excite like they used to.
But there is more to Revelations than pointing and shooting anyway, enter stage left: the Genesis device. Scanning environments to grab 100% completion won’t be for everyone, but thankfully it’s only a required mechanic for story moments. Holding down the left bumper, rather than bringing up a gun aim, brings up the Genesis device, and you can scan the area for hidden items, or just scan decomposing enemies to raise your completion rate. Once you grab 100%, you’ll be awarded with a bonus item, and then you’ll have to start toward that 100% again. It’s rarely tedious, as it’s often obvious where items will be hidden – piles of rubble, under a table, in the sink – so after a period of learning, most players will know exactly when to pull the Genesis out.
The herb system is a simple one now, and all you now have to do is find them, and hit a face button on the controller to instantly use them. It’s a design decision slightly at odds with the atmosphere, because on the one hand you’ve got a reasonable level of immersion, ruined slightly by a “health button”. No more mixing herbs for you, it’s all a bit too easy. The enemies take a fair bit to put them down, though, and their twisted, distorted movements make grabbing headshots trickier than just targeting a slow-moving Zombie shuffler for that traditional quick kill.
Resident Evil Revelations - RAID Mode
Like most Resident Evil titles, once you’ve finished the main campaign you’ll be able to take on the additional modes, with Revelations including RAID mode. While the main campaign of Revelations does have a mission-based structure and scores you based on performance, RAID mode is more stage-based. Think of it like an Arcade mode; the enemies even have health bars above their heads.
Completing stages in RAID mode or just playing the single player campaign will award you with Battle Points. This system is pretty simple: the more you earn; the better weaponry you can unlock to use. Each playable character will have a base weapon, or setup, but to get a better ranking, you’ll need better tools. There are lots of stages available, but you’ll have to unlock them as you go, and each is based on a location from the single player mode. Unlike the campaign, you can take RAID mode online to experience with another player, which is a nice new addition.
It’s a superb alternative to the campaign, allowing for a quick slice of the action, with the idea of buying new weapons from the shop offering replayability. Once the campaign is over, only the hardiest of fans will keep playing, but RAID mode ups the value for money significantly.
What Is HD About It?
The one thing that is noticeable about Revelations HD is that on the whole, it looks gorgeous. Capcom know how to make a cut-scene look good, and they’ve done a superb job on bringing a low-resolution 3DS game onto HD consoles, but then, you’d expect nothing less, as the original is only a year old. There are rough sections though, and when the camera shows you a texture too close-up, it’s horrendous looking and a reminder of the game’s origins. It’s a definite case of closer inspection revealing the cracks, but just playing the game you won’t notice it very often.
In-line with the visuals, there’s full surround sound support, and the ability to play RAID mode online, as well as the expected additions such as Achievements and Trophies. The Wii U version supports off-TV play and dual screen gameplay for RAID mode, too.
New to the HD version is Infernal mode, which is unlocked after completing the game. Offering a higher difficulty challenge is great, but Capcom have gone one further, and for Infernal mode the enemies - even including a new enemy, the Wall Blister - and items have been randomised throughout the game to attempt to create even more of a challenge. Infernal difficult is a welcome addition, because the main campaign isn’t particularly difficult. Like RAID mode, if you’re not careful you can be one-hit killed with little warning, but at the same time it’s a rewarding experience, though not one everyone will enjoy.
People who missed Revelations the first time around will find an enjoyable and fully fleshed out Resident Evil experience - while not spectacular, it's certainly closer to the original games in terms of atmosphere than the modern outings. RAID mode and Infernal difficulty also offer compelling reasons for Revelations veterans to grab the HD version.
While Resident Evil's future is unclear at present, this HD version of Revelations proves that there’s life in the old dog yet, even if there’s a high likelihood that anyone who wanted to play Revelations will probably already have done so.
Version Tested: Xbox 360
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Resident Evil needed to go back to its roots, so Revelations is a smart release; but not quite an essential purchase.