2011 was the Resident Evil franchise’s 15th anniversary, and to celebrate Capcom has been bringing a slew of new Resident Evil games to the living rooms of gamers worldwide. 2012 will continue that trend as we’ll see two major console releases: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and the highly anticipated Resident Evil 6. To whet our appetite for the year ahead, Capcom has provided us with Resident Evil: Revelations, the series’ first story-driven foray onto the 3DS. While it’s not a major console entry, don’t be fooled. Those dismissing Revelations as a second-rate, handheld experience will be missing out, as RE: Revelations provides one of the most gripping and immersive experiences for the RE franchise yet.
Revelations bridges the gap between RE4 and RE5 and tells the story of Jill Valentine and her partner, Parker Luciani. The two embark on a mission to find and rescue series mainstay Chris Redfield, whose last known location leads them to an abandoned cruise liner in the middle of the Mediterranean. In typical RE fashion, things are not as they seem and the ship is littered with B.O.Ws (Bio-Organic Weapons) stemming from the new T-Abyss virus. Throughout the game you’ll attempt to find your partner, stop a terrorist organization’s plot to infect 1/5 of the world’s oceans with the virus, and uncover deception within your own organization.
Revelations’ plot is helped by being more straightforward than most entries in the past, and there are few times where you’re left scratching your head trying to make sense of things. Unfortunately Revelations suffers from featuring some of the most insipid, cookie-cutter characters the series has ever seen. While not enough to detract from the overall experience, it makes playing as characters other than Jill or Chris feel like more of a chore to advance the story.
Luckily, no matter who you play as, gameplay is consistently solid. Tank controls aside, I never felt hindered or at a disadvantage when facing various enemies throughout the game, and the newly added dodge feature helps keep you alive if you can time your enemy’s attacks just right. Your customary magnums, rocket launchers, and grenades are all at your disposal to help deal with wave after wave of incoming B.O.Ws, but it’s the Genesis scanner, Revelations’ new toy, that adds an extra element of strategy for those looking to do more then pull the trigger.
The Genesis allows you to scan enemies or various areas to find hidden items. Scanning an enemy will yield you a certain percentage of knowledge about them. Once you’ve scanned enough enemies to reach 100% you’ll be rewarded a health item. The amount of percentage gained is dependent on whether or not the enemy is alive and how many times you’ve scanned that particular B.O.W. You’ll also use the Genesis as a sort of metal detector, finding hidden ammo and items throughout the game. While you don’t have to use the Genesis scanner to advance, refusing to take advantage of its capabilities will make your journey all the more difficult.
Capcom didn’t cut any corners with presentation just because Revelations is a handheld experience. This is the quintessential showpiece, graphically, for the 3DS. The bowels of the ship are made of vast and beautiful interiors. Whether in a vacant casino, abandoned laboratory, or the vein-like interiors that are the cold, steel hallways of the ship, Revelations looks and sounds amazing. If you’re brave enough to play with the headphones turned up and the lights turned off, you’ll have never encountered a handheld experience like it. Every little detail down to the ship’s innards creaking and water splashing against the hull is nailed perfectly. And to top it all off the 3D effect is masterfully utilized throughout the game.
For those looking to expand on their experience past the single-player’s 15-20 hour campaign there are plenty of extras to be had. Your standard New Game + feature exists with extra difficulties and there’s a “Raid” mode that allows players to go solo or team up with others to blast through various trials filled with enemies throughout the game. In-game trophies and accomplishments net you secret weapons and costumes to prolong your experience, and scanning hidden “handprints” throughout the game help offer some depth as well.
Fifteen years ago, the original Resident Evil was released, and it is one of the titles responsible for pulling me into the world of videogames. Its level of immersion and ability to scare the bejesus out of me are things that I still search for in the games I play today. Recent Resident Evil games have lost sight of those achievements and have focused more on action than suspense, straying away from what the series is all about. Resident Evil: Revelations helps to steer course back in the right direction and excels on levels where many more expensive console games do not. Simply put, those skipping RE: Revelations waiting for the next big Resident Evil console experience are not only missing out but should be put out to sea.
Resident Evil: Revelations is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language.