Resident Evil: Revelations Review

By Jonathan Deesing - Posted Jan 31, 2012

Shooting bullets from every Resident Evil game's gun, Revelations still manages to miss the mark. Unwieldy controls, boring baddies, and frustrating gameplay make this a forgettable cruise.

The Pros
  • Capcom tries their best to make a good shooter on the 3DS
  • Sweet cruise ship setting with Super Metroid style exploration
  • Raid Mode offers for some after-campaign fun
The Cons
  • Controls make moving your character an existential struggle
  • Repetitive and uninspired enemies
  • Rife with wasted potential

Resident Evil: Revelations Review:

The Resident Evil franchise is built on a number of long-standing tenets: gameplay, graphics, story, among other things; however, like many great franchises, there are hiccups along the way and unfortunately, Resident Evil Revelations is one of those hiccups. This isn’t to say that Revelations is particularly awful, but it in no way lives up to the standard built by previous Resident Evil installments. 

The game seems to be caught in an identity crisis. Revelations spends a fair amount of time flirting with elements from Resident Evil 1 and Resident Evil 5, but also dabbles in parts of every game in between. The result is a mixed-up stepchild with no clear goal or destination. 



As Obnoxious and Scary as Alf

Revelations takes place almost entirely on a cruise ship retrofitted to be a terrorist attack deployment vessel. You know. . .the usual thing. You take the role of Jill Valentine battling alongside the pudgy—and distinctively not-Chris Redfield—Parker Luciani. You’ll also play as almost every other character in the game in a hectic and cluttered attempt to provide hands-on storytelling. The game uses the over-the-shoulder camera of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 with moderate success. 

The cruise ship is actually a great setting for the game, and features Super Metroid exploration and re-exploration throughout. The map is helpful and for the most part well designed. You are locked in certain areas until you can find certain keys, and you can always go back with those keys to check out previously unavailable places. At certain points, you will have to take the role of another character and either venture to mountains, another ship, or a floating city. This is a huge drag, because you’re unable to upgrade weapons or carry over inventory during these segments, which means they’re essentially a waste of time for players meaning to max out Jill’s weapons and abilities. 

Resident Evil: Revelations

As far as your companions, they’re virtual bumps on a log. Your companions are so useless, weak and underpowered, their presence seems almost obligatory in an attempt to retain parity with RE5. After hearing Parker’s obnoxious Italian accent for the hundredth time I longed for the quieter, solitary, and decidedly tenser environment provided by Resident Evil Code Veronica. I could not figure out for the life of me why my character had a companion through most of the game. They don’t help you if you’re being attacked by a monster, and they don’t heal you or allow for weapon modification. If this indeed was a shot at making the game resemble RE5, it’s more disgrace than homage. 

The biggest downfall for Revelations is that the game is simply not scary or tense. The checkpoints are helpful and placed in great spots, but even on the second-highest difficulty I never really needed to use them. I could count the variety of enemies on one hand, and the boss battles lack the panache of previous installments. Instead of tensing my shoulders and screaming when a boss grabbed me and rammed a buzz saw into my spine I simply sighed at the lackluster joystick and tried again. 

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C’mon Resident Evil, You’re Better Than This

Continuing a general feeling of “meh,” Revelations takes a number of potentially innovative features and wastes them all at a spectacular pace. 

One really cool and unrealized opportunity is the addition of a scanner not too dissimilar from BioShock’s research camera called the Genesis. You can use the Genesis to scan either dead or living enemies, gaining a percentage working toward 100 percent. At 100 percent, you are granted a health item. There is no damage bonus for your diligence or a further understanding of the creatures. You can also scan rooms for items, which is helpful in a pinch. Overall though, I was really left wanting a little more out of the Genesis than a health pack. 

The touch screen also makes inventory management and selection stupid-easy. Sadly, for collectors and inventory hounds of past installments, Revelations will be a disappointment. Beyond an item cap, inventories aren’t the internal struggle of take-this-leave-that from prior games. You have three guns, a set amount of ammo and health you can carry and that’s it. Maintaining inventory is just about as simple as it is in Modern Warfare 3. Yet again, removing a segment of what made the other games so darn fun/unique. 

Resident Evil: Revelations

After beating the campaign in just under ten hours, I headed over to Raid Mode, which is Capcom’s take on Gears of War’s Horde Mode. In this mode, you fight baddies on any of the maps you completed in campaign, hoping to survive long enough to reach the end. You gain bullets and experience depending on the skill of your shot. Later, you can take what you earn and upgrade your character to complete harder levels. Cooler still, you can team up with a buddy online and get in on some great co-op monster slaughter. This mode draws notable attention to the achievement system in the game, with trophies available in both campaign and Raid which allow players to unlock different levels and weapons. Carrying over from RE5, this system retains its coolness and usefulness when replaying the game. 

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Controls

Perhaps the most unfortunate struggle is the hardware. Stuck with one joystick after so many years of using two, Capcom decided to do the best with what they had and try to make Nintendo’s Circle Pad work. Instead of returning to RE1’s set camera (which worked well with one joystick), the player has to either push hard on the stick to move or gently to turn. In the middle of an intense battle, it’s insanely frustrating to be nursing a joystick just to face your attacker. 

When fighting at a distance, the controls are rather impressive, and Capcom’s skill developing shooters is clear. When enemies get closer however, the shortcomings of the hardware become glaringly apparent. Baddies disappear behind your character, and spinning to face them is an exercise in futility. The dodge mechanic in the game is unbelievably elusive and if you don’t pick it up in the two line explanation, you’re left to figure it out in-game. Which you never will. Without a doubt, if the dodge mechanic was more responsive, Revelations would be a different game. The few times I accidentally dodged an attack were super cool and helpful. But in ten hours I was never able to replicate it with any sort of consistency. 

Resident Evil: Revelations

Other attempts to regain some form of good controls include the strafing mechanism and—for some reason—extensive and mind-numbingly stupid underwater levels. These underwater levels, which occupy a vast majority of a few chapters, made me grit my teeth in frustration more often than not. The controls are no better on land than they are below water, except you can’t discharge your weapon. This wouldn’t matter, except the underwater monsters you have absolutely no way of combatting. Trying to avoid mutated salmon with a shitty control system is like trying to hang yourself with spaghetti. Sad, unsuccessful, and really rather stupid.

Warning: For Your Fans Only

I won’t go as far as to say that Resident Evil Revelations is a disgrace to the series, although I do believe it is an underwhelming addition. Doing a lot of things right comes naturally to Capcom, but with new hardware came a new, unsuccessful, approach. The story is pretty standard fare for a lesser RE title, and the lack of standard features could be excused due to the limits of the handheld. But the abysmal controls and resulting frustrations are unforgiveable. Diehard fans of Resident Evil like me may see this title as just something to tide them over until Resident Evil 6 comes out later this year. But as for anyone looking for a game changer on the 3DS—keep looking. 

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