Despite my affinity for the Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996 to present) franchise, my love for the series actually began with the Nintendo 64 port of Resident Evil 2 (ibid/Rockstar San Diego/Factor 5, 1999) because, as a kid, I was too poor to ever own a PlayStation and hedged my bets on the N64 instead. While this means I had to retroactively catch up with the original title and was forced to play catch-up ever since with each subsequent release, I have attempted to keep the series at the forefront of my videogame library. However, considering I prefer to stick to the main series titles, Resident Evil: Revelations (Capcom, 2012) passed me by. Originally released for the Nintendo 3DS, a HD port of the title was released for Xbox One in 2013 and, fresh off of Christmas, a copy of this version recently landed in my lap. Set between Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005) and Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, 2009), Revelations took main series stars Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, saddled them with new partners, and dropped them in the deepest of shits on two cruise ships.
The story, in true Resident Evil fashion, is both complex and simple: a viral outbreak has occurred on the Queen Zenobia and Jill and Parker Luciani have been sent in to investigate and find Chris and his partner, Jessica Sherawat. Things quickly become far more complicated when the terrorist organisation Veltro seemingly re-emerges, monsters and mutations stalk the corridors and extravagant interiors of the Zenobia, and twists, turns, and betrayals start to take shape. Additionally, the story jumps between three teams of two characters (the two already mentioned and a couple of BSAA hot-heads conducting a further investigation) and various different time points; players will take Jill through the Zenobia at one moment, before flashing back to events prior to the game’s story and taking control of Parker, before jumping into Chris’s shoes at another end of the ship. It all gets very confusing and annoying, especially when you’re trying to put the narrative in some kind of order, but I appreciated the variety in characters, who all play slightly different and have different missions, weapons, and enemies to encounter. Revelations adopts the over-the-shoulder, action-orientated approach popularised by Resident Evil 4 and yet still returns the series to its claustrophobic, atmospheric roots through the effective use of narrow hallways and the isolation offered by the ships being adrift in the middle of the ocean. Therefore, weapons, ammo, and health are in plentiful supply (especially by Resident Evil standards) but you still can’t go in all guns blazing.
The Queen Zenobia is swarming with monsters the likes of which have never been seen before in Resident Evil; as with all titles after Resident Evil 4, Revelations moves away from the traditional shambling zombies and more towards mutations and monstrosities. Given the naval setting of the videogame, Revelations sees players battling against weird aquatic creatures that sprout tentacles at a moment’s notice or throw spear-like claws at you, bulbous atrocities with fuckin’ buzzsaws for hands, and even a gigantic, mutated octopus.
The enemy design is very unique and makes for far more formidable monsters to fight to the point where even bog-standard enemies will soak up your bullets like a sponge. Luckily, players are equipped with a device called the “Genesis” which allows them to scan enemies and the environment to locate hidden items and build up a percentage score; once this hits 100%, you are awarded with a health item. Unfortunately, this device is cumbersome and you cannot attack while using it; I assume it worked a lot better with the 3DS’ touch-pad capabilities but, on the Xbox One, it reminded me of the scanning mechanics that I remember dragging down Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Terminal Reality, 2009). On the plus side, though, player control has never been better or more fluid; in Revelations, players can move and shoot (or reload) at the same time and healing items can be used at the push of a button without equipping them from a menu screen (in fact, I hardly ever had a need for the menu at all!), making combat much faster, easier, and fluid. The map is pretty poor, especially compared to the one in Resident Evil 5, and it’s pretty easy to get lost on the ship’s many floors and increasingly grandiose locations but, to be fair, that is part of the charm of a Resident Evil title.
There are also a couple of fun on-rails sections where players use Gatling Guns to blast at giant tentacles and even bigger bosses. One new feature I did not enjoy, however, were the sections that force you to endure the game’s terrible swimming mechanics. I can only assume that this was originally something players controlled with the 3DS’ gyroscopic feature, which would have made it even more nauseating and difficult to control. Revelations’ single player campaign is broken down into numerous chapters and acts, making the game very easy to pick up and play in short bursts; I often find Resident Evil titles very intense and absorbing and have to play them in long sessions but Revelations was a lot less stressful in this regard and you can play as much or as little as you like. The better you do in each chapter, the more points and rewards you will receive; these can be used in the game’s Raid Mode, which is a pretty nifty little feature similar to the Mercenaries mode of previous Resident Evil videogames.
In Raid Mode, players can pick a character (usually one of the main story protagonists), assign them weapons, buffs, and items, and take on a series of short missions based on the single player levels. Although these missions will be much shorter, they can be quite tough; players encounter enemies of varying levels (the higher the level, the tougher the enemies are), far less items (and no access to the Genesis device as far as I have seen), and are also encouraged to finish each mission in a decent time while also shooting at tokens for bonus points.
Overall, Revelations was a pretty good time; it was a blast to see some classic Resident Evil characters and enemies recreated and the story, while over-the-top even by Resident Evil standards, was tolerable and entertaining. It’s fun to blast through the main story mode and take on these new, unique enemies even if a lot of them are frustrating and annoying, especially when you’re low on ammo and can’t be bothered to waste time scanning with the Genesis to get more health. While I found myself getting lost quite a lot due to the poor map and would rather bite a limb off than ever take Jill swimming again, I otherwise really enjoyed the more action-orientated combat and the tense, claustrophobic atmosphere afforded by the game’s narrative and setting.