Resident Evil: Revelations for the Xbox 360 is exactly what people mean when they call a game “mediocre.” Very few aspects of the game are good, but none of them can objectively be called bad or broken either. This is a game for only the most die-hard Resident Evil completionist. However, since the 3DS version of the game has been out for over a year, chances are the most die hard Resident Evil completionists out there has already played it. Resident Evil: Revelations is 12 chapters of the world’s worst cruise ship vacation spent shooting monsters in their weak points, finding keys, and watching dull cut-scenes split between four to six viewpoints, depending on how you count them.
For me, the single-player campaign alternated between a painful slog, and a pleasantly average but forgettable shooter. Most of the time however, it was just there. It was an obstacle that I had to surmount. I had to kill some number of monsters, find this or that key/card, or negotiate a rudimentary puzzle and none of it was much fun. Sometimes, I had to swim. That wasn’t nearly as bad as swimming normally is in third person shooters. Capcom was generous with the air during those sections so they were a matter of leisurely path finding rather than desperate air-bubble-to-air-bubble sprints. Of the boss fights, there were two kinds: the fun ones and the “I’m-going-to-snap-the-disc-in-half-and-hack-at-my-wrists until-someone-stops-me” ones. Unfortunately, only one of them wasn’t of the disc-snapping variety. More on why later. I did like the weapon upgrade system, however. If I have to hunt for collectibles anyway, the least they can do is make my weapons more awesome. The upgrade system pretty much clinched the actual shooting as the best part of the game. The other parts? The less said about them the better. Of course, it’s my job to talk about them, so I will anyway.
Movement, for example, was terrible - truly terrible. No character could move faster than a comfortable jog and there was no run command. Even when I was being chased, or simply running because I was out of ammo or under a time limit, I could move no faster than a fat guy on January 2nd. The game did offer one defensive maneuver: the dodge. It was great when it worked, sometimes automatically for no apparent reason, but most of the time I just couldn’t do it. At first I though I was just bad at videogames, but then there were times where I could dodge like a boss, and that’s not including the times when I could do it magically without any kind of button input. I can only conclude that either dodging was disabled without warning during some encounters or it was a hit detection issue. Either way, it wasn’t reliable and that made many enemy encounters frustrating instead of challenging, and it made all but one boss fight completely unbearable. Do you know how stupid it felt to try to dodge a charging monster with a seemingly disabled dodge function and a strafing speed that could make continental drift contemplate doing awful things to fuzzy animals?
Of course, killing enemies was nice thanks to the guns, but there were two other non-ballistic methods you could use. You could slash enemies with your knife or stun them then do a ridiculous looking “physical attack” that amounted to a charged up punch or kick that seemed oddly more powerful than many bullets. Actually stunning enemies, however, happened infrequently enough that most of the time, I forgot it was an option. Even when I remembered, the stunned enemy was often far enough away that I couldn’t fat guy on January 2nd my ass over there before the stun wore off. That usually resulted in me presenting my stupid face for a good old-fashioned grapple attack that required obnoxious stick waggling to get out of. Then there was one enemy that straight up synch-killed me with its really freaking long and inescapable grapple attack whenever the stun wore off before I could execute the vaunted physical attack.
There were several other instances of poor game design as well. Weird hit detection plagued boss battles. They would lash out nowhere near me but I’d still take damage despite the obvious lack of any ranged component to their attack. Some enemies had the ability to knock the character I was controlling on his or her butt and I’d have to furiously pound the A button to simply make them stand back up, even if they were ostensibly hurt. Once this was presented as a scripted event where a serious injury was implied and I had to fend off waves of enemies while I waited for my partner to reach my position and render assistance. When that assistance finally materialized, all she did was help me up. Despite the fact that I was so injured I couldn’t move or switch weapons (could only use the pistol, natch), after all the zombie wolves were dead, all I needed was help standing up. I apparently wasn’t hurt, just lazy. Moments like that just left me screaming at the TV, “C’mon game, if you’re not going to give a crap, then why should I?” It never answered me though.
Other parts of the game left me wondering how anyone could sit down, look at that specific aspect of the game, and say, “yeah, that looks about right.” For example, I was forced to play from the perspective of two goof balls that clearly had no business working in a counter-bioterrorism outfit’s mailroom, yet they were field agents. This pair of numbskulls, this Quint and Keith (even their names make an awful pair) were given guns and gear and sent to a far-flung corner of the world. What’s worse is that they sounded like they’d accidentally walked in from the set of another videogame. A bad one. One guy sounded painfully dude-broish, as if he was more comfortable asking to be beered than clearing rooms full of mutant murder beasts. The other sounded like someone from the Bronx doing an awful Jersey accent, or the world’s worst Joe Pantoliano impersonator. I know it’s a Japanese game and it needs to be localized and that in some cases localization budgets are probably tiny, but the rest of the voice acting is fine except for these two Wheelie and Brains-level abominations.
Of course, all that gameplay and voice acting was in the service of a story set between Resident Evil 4 and 5 and to a Resident Evil novice like me, it was pure hogwash. Maybe all the gravitas was lost on one such as me who has not been awoken to the wonderful fruits of the Resident Evil series. Honestly, I didn’t know a plot could be constructed entirely out of twists, betrayals, and they’re-not-who we-think-they-ares, but over the course of its 9 to 11 hour story, Resident Evil: Revelations taught me that you in fact could build a story out of that stuff. Perhaps that’s an accomplishment in and of itself, but I doubt it. It was disappointing that it couldn’t even muster up the insanity of the story and cut scenes from Resident Evil 5. Where was all the crazy gun-fu, rocket tossing, and boulder punching? That stuff at least made the hogwash fun to watch.
Finally, when I was done saving the world or the BSAA or whatever, I gave Resident Evil: Revelations’s Raid Mode a try and discovered, to my surprise, that it is by far my favorite part of the game. Raid Mode initially sounds like another variation on the standard-and-quickly-being-driven-into-the-ground horde mode, but it’s not really. Raid Mode sets you, either alone or with a buddy via Xbox Live or system-link against a map full of enemies. Your job is to get through it as quickly as possible. It’s honestly more fun that the single-player campaign because it strips away everything but the simple act of shooting monsters. (Yes, that means I don’t like true survival horror, but I do know when it’s thrillingly executed and it just wasn’t in RE: Revelations.) They even have health bars so you get solid feedback on the best gun and best place to aim it. You earn points during each round (you earn them via single-player also) that you can use on new weapons and upgrades. Everything has been re-balanced and there’s more enemy variety. Some are big and slow, but soak up a lot of damage, others are fast but weak, while still others hit extra hard. It’s fast and furious and a blast with the right partner. I don’t know, however, if it’s worth the full price of a new game.
So there, it wasn’t all bad. Still, if I had to point to a game that epitomized my reasoning for not being a fan of Resident Evil, it would be Resident Evil: Revelations. It’s mostly dull and filled with some odd or outright poor design decisions. It’s not broken or glitchy and it didn’t murder me in my sleep, but I just didn’t find it much fun, save for Raid Mode.