Resident Evil Revelations
Resident Evil Revelations’ Rachel should move her hair out of her eyes. While we’re all for natty fringes, this is a ‘do that seemingly completely obscures her vision at all times.
It’s no wonder she keeps tripping over in monster-infested corridors and being gored by assailing mutants. Perhaps her questionable eyesight also explains why she put on the stripper outfit instead of the sensible zombie-hunting ensemble of trackie bottoms and a nice windjammer.
So, yes: Rachel – the mysterious operative on the good ship Queen Zenobia who was the big character reveal at the Tokyo Game Show – is a bit of a blow for the positive portrayal of women in videogames, but in a series that’s almost expected to upset somebody on some level every time, it’s par for the course.
Perhaps it’s even deliberate – free coverage in the Daily Mail is always a plus, after all. Elsewhere, however, Resident Evil Revelations is introducing some less routine – not to mention welcome – additions to the standard formula.
For a start, the ship location to which Jill Valentine and fellow BSAA operative Parker Luciani are dispatched has more than a few shades of the traditional mansion structure of Resi past.
Faded, chipped wood panelling, gloomy bedrooms and rickety staircases help to lead the game out of the dangerously by-the-numbers ‘foreign environment’ and inevitable industrial gantries that, if they perhaps characterised Resident Evil 4, were simply repetitious in 5.
On top of this zombies or zombie-like adversaries seem, for now at least, to have run their course, the primary antagonists so far displayed more in line with ‘bio-organic weapons’ such as Lickers or Tyrants, that have appeared in previous games.
The new foes fit the sea-based theme of the level, not to mention the wider plot of the game, by appearing as barnacle-encrusted, lobster claw-equipped horrors, though still shuffling around with all the lurching non-mobility that makes running away a viable option.
Standing and fighting, though, has finally received a valuable concession that players – if not hardcore devotees – of the series have often clamoured for. The strafe ability that was added to the 3DS port of Mercenaries has carried across to Revelations.
It’s not quite as loose as many had hoped for, but a squeeze of LT when in third-person mode or when zoomed into first-person firing view now enables the player to move left or right as well as forwards, even if the touchscreen-driven camera control is disabled for the duration.
Dodging or being able to shoot straight seem of paramount importance, because all accounts suggest ammo conservation is back with, if not a vengeance certainly a creeping presence. Whether it’s a technical constraint or a design choice, there have been no indications of Resi 4 or Resident Evil 5’s open areas full of fleshy hordes.
Elsewhere, Jill goes for a swim – player-controlled, for the first time in the series – and can also detect hidden items with a night vision ‘item scanner’, the true purpose of which is still to be truly revealed.
But it’s the general structure of the game – locked doors with control box puzzles, keys, mysterious pickups to save for later – which is perhaps the most telling indicator of Capcom’s intentions. Revelations should be a game which, for the first time years, engages the brain of a Resident Evil player.
Of course, that’s all just the ship stuff. The accompanying Chris Redfield mission, in which he and newcomer Jessica Sherawat are dispatched to a snowy locale in order to investigate terrorist group Veltro – developer of the water-based T-Abyss strain of everyone’s favourite zombie-inducer – could make up for the Zenobia’s comparative lack of set-piece thrills.
With only wolf-splatting sections and a scene in which the player controls a crippled Chris until Jessica shows up to help shown so far, the section has the potential to be suitably more action-based.
Whether this is Resident Evil on two fronts to keep everyone happy or not, it already clearly contains enough clamoured-for features to win back some friends.
It might even make the 3DS an essential purchase, which would clearly be the ideal outcome for both Capcom and Nintendo as the machine’s fortunes continue to falter.