8th March 2012 - The unusual level for entry in the Resident Evil series is to accept that its complicated and labyrinthine narrative isn't meant to be taken seriously and should be considered an excuse to showcase fighting mutated monsters. At one point, before I officially began writing for All Age Gaming, I made the connection that Resident Evil has turned into the new House of the Dead franchise in recent years. Yet, despite countless titles filled with awkward dialogue, bizarre interconnected continuity that wouldn't be out of place in a Western superhero comic, and a recent racism snafu, Resident Evil definitely knows how to entertain its audience, and Revelations is no different.
The story involves the members of the BSAA, including protein shake addict Chris Redfield and Master of Unlocking, Jill Valentine, investigating a biochemical terrorist threat by the organization known as Veltro. As the various teams become more and more involved, a conspiracy is unraveled concerning a small city island that was sunken under suspicious conditions... along with a new virus spawning a small army of monsters at whom to shoot in the face with rockets.
Curiously, for the degree of camp and lack of focus in past titles, Revelations' narrative tries a little too hard to be taken seriously. The individual levels are presented as episodes of a mini-series, complete with a “Previously on...” cutscene meant to explain and remind players of the various plotpoints in the story. As great as a framing device this is, since it helps explain the consistent shifts between roughly six main characters throughout the span of the campaign, the ham-handed dialogue and tongue-in-cheek progression of the game as a whole undermines any and all character drama and tension the experience is supposed to have.
Gameplay should be familiar to those who have played more recent Resident Evil games. It's third-person with an over-the-shoulder perspective, and it focuses on collecting ammo and weapons, puzzle-solving, and fighting for your life against horribly deformed mutant creatures, enlivened by the occasional shift of environment and 1st-person rail-shooting sequences. You are also never without an AI controlled partner to help you out whenever the enemy numbers get too high. Those who have played Resident Evil 5 may see that last sentence as something against the game, since that installment had some pretty bad ally AI. The good news is Revelations is a massive improvement over 5, with partner AI leaving you to heal yourself but still having enough common sense to use weapons other than the starting pistol against a fifteen foot high hulking mass of ugly.
What may be equally disarming however is the reduction of one's inventory system. As opposed to having an entire suitcase of space or nine inventory slots, RE: Revelations limits you at all times to just three weapons, a combat knife and a maximum of five healing items. Thankfully, this is remedied by weapon boxes lying around the levels which allows one to swap out weapons or upgrade them with collectible custom parts. As for the healing item dilemma, a new item is introduced: The Genesis Scanner. Instead of mixing and matching herbs for healing effect, the scanner is used like a gun and is used to find hidden caches of ammo in the levels or to scan enemies. The benefit of enemy scanning is once you've scanned enough, the device disperses a healing item, leading to certain situations where one can be almost dead but might saved by putting away their weapon and holding still while the scanner gives them a fighting chance. When you add all of these elements into a staggering amount of enemy variety and intense boss fights, the gameplay experience of RE: Revelations is, in a word, exciting.
RE: Revelations' pre-rendered cutscenes are gorgeous, though the lip sync can be off at times. As for in-game visuals, it is arguably the most impressive game on the 3DS this year. The atmosphere is most reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, in that it manages to nail creepy intense horror in the beginning, then have high octane explosions and giant monsters tearing people in half by the end. If there is one thing against it, it has to be that the 3D feels a bit tacked on. It's implemented flawlessly, but only to the goal of making subtitles float out as well as your map when you pull it out. Also, while there are little to no loading screens in-game, there were a few moments where the framerate dropped significantly, usually in an elevator, but it's not a deal breaker.
The game's sound is, without a doubt, spot on. The folly effects of monsters ripping through flesh is brutal, gunshots feel suitably meaty as it hits said monsters, and the voice-acting is alright, even if the dialogue as mentioned before, can get hilariously awkward at times.
As unusually dense as Revelations' story tries to be, especially with its constant references to Dante Aligheri's Divine Comedy, what it isn't lacking in is variety. Having played past Resident Evil games, the newly designed T-Abyss enemies, thrilling set pieces, and the introductions of two new BSAA members, won't spoil when or where they show up but they're awesome, were more than enough to keep me playing through the game, even if the narrative felt somewhere between an overblown TV mini-series and a direct-to-DVD movie. Going through on Casual Difficulty the overall campaign can take about six to seven hours to complete but the inclusion of a New Game Plus feature, plus a bunch of Achievement-style unlockables, not to mention a Local and Online Co-Op mode complete with RPG-style level progression, lends a lot of replay value. For those looking for how this new installment connects into the entire Resident Evil canon, the best of luck to you, but you're going to need something for your headache.
Resident Evil: Revelations isn't going to revolutionize the series, or gaming for that matter. Its story somehow manages to feel overwrought and operatic as well as confusing and silly. What it is, however, is an absolutely manic action horror experience with really satisfying gameplay, and as a graphics showcase for the 3DS it gets the job done. If you want the ability to shoot some monsters into giblet sandwiches on the go but without too much grit or seriousness getting in your way, this game is a must-have.
AAG Score: 8.5/10
+ Satisfying Gameplay
+ Great Visuals
+ High Replay Value
- Minimal use of 3D
- Story and Dialogue Prone to Getting Silly
Reviewed and Written By Tyler Chancey