To put it bluntly, I’ve never been an expert at survival-horror games. I’ve played games from the popular franchises, such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill, and even some lesser known series such Fatal Frame and Siren, but they all seem to have one of two things in common: I’m just not that good at them, or they just don’t hold my interest for one reason or another. The two things that have kept me from enjoying the Resident Evil series are typically either running out of ammo constantly because I suck with melee weapons, or not having any ribbons for the typewriters to save in the earlier games. However, reviewing Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D gave me the opportunity to check out the demo for Resident Evil: Revelations, and since I enjoyed the demo, I figured I’d give the full game a shot, so let’s see how this little adventure turned out.
As a quick warning, this part will probably contain some spoilers, as it’s kind of tough to talk much about the story without some slight spoiling. The story takes place in 2005, between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, after the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance is founded by Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. Jill and her new partner, Parker Luciani, have been sent to a ship known as the Queen Zenobia to investigate the disappearance of Chris and his new partner, Jessica Sherawat. As it turns out, Chris and Jessica are in a snowy mountain region searching for evidence of the return of Il Veltro, the bio-terrorist organization responsible for the attacks on Terragrigia. After some time, they’re sent to the Queen Zenobia to investigate the whereabouts of Jill and Parker, and that’s just the beginning…well actually, the first few levels of the game.
The game is split into twelve levels, or Episodes as the game calls them, each with two to three scenarios. What’s nice though is that you’re not playing as Jill the entire time, nor do all the episodes happen in chronological order. As stated in the story, Jill and Parker are on the Queen Zenobia trying to figure out what happened to Chris. However, Chris and Jessica are in the mountains trying to find evidence of Il Veltro. The Prologue takes place at 6:08 PM aboard the ship, but Episode 1 takes place earlier that day, while Episode 2 takes place around 6:28 PM. Later on (Episode 4 I believe), you’ll take control of Chris on his and Jessica’s mission, and later still you take control of Keith Lumley and Quint Cetcham as they are dispatched to where Chris and Jessica were to find out more about Il Veltro’s actions. Another episode takes place as a bit of a flash back to the attacks on Terragrigia. In other words, it’s almost like watching a Resident Evil CGI series on TV, as the game even has “Previously on Resident Evil: Revelations” clips at the start each episode, which serve to highlight what recently took place in the storyline. Even though you’ll be using the same equipment and firearms between characters, it’s interesting to play from a few different viewpoints.
I don’t typically spend much of my reviews on the controls, but if you’re like me and don’t have a lot of survival-horror experience under your belt, it can be a bit cumbersome at first. I’ve always been used to games where you just hold down a button to fire. With games like Resident Evil, you have to hold down a button (in this case, R) to put yourself in a ready stance, and then you can fire. If you’re not used to this genre, that can trip you up at first. The other thing to really look at control-wise is the touch screen. Aside from a couple puzzles here and there, there's almost nothing you can do on the touch screen that you can’t do with the D-Pad and face buttons, and I like that. You can use the touch screen to cycle through your weapons, select a secondary weapon (grenade, knife, etc.), select your Genesis scanner, and pull up the menu. I don’t think you can use an herb from the touch screen, but in the heat of a battle, it’s a lot easier and faster to just his A to use an herb instead of using the touch screen anyway. You also can’t use a button to open the menu to check out your ammo and the map (the start and select buttons open the main game menu to look at options and such). Bottom line, Capcom made nice use of the touch screen in this game. A couple puzzles here and there, checking out your ammo and herbs remaining, and an optional way to swap weapons and grenades out, but most of the action is left to the buttons and D-Pad. Finally, the game is compatible with the new Circle Pad Pro, which adds a couple more buttons and a second circle pad, which can be used to control the camera and aim. However, I don’t own the Circle Pad Pro, and as such have no way to test it out to see how it fares in the game.
To be honest, this is about the only Resident Evil game I’ve played that I played for more than an hour without losing interest, and seeing as I was never a big survival-horror fan, that’s saying something. A little early on you get the Genesis bio-scanner, which allows you to scan enemies and also look for hidden objects, such as herbs and ammo. This is very useful for two reasons. First, you can find quite a bit of extra ammo lying around by using the scanner that you couldn’t otherwise, and for games like this, you’ll need all the ammo you can find unless you’re awesome with a combat knife. Second, anytime you scan an enemy (dead or alive if I recall), you’ll get a bit of a scanning percentage. Honestly, I’m not sure what determines the percentage that you get, but once you scan enough to get 100%, you’ll get an herb. While you can only store five herbs, you’ll likely go through them kind of quickly unless you’re really good at picking off enemies quickly. Speaking of which, a lot of the early enemies you’ll encounter will be Oozes, and these things aren’t too bad to take down if you have a steady aim. I, however, do not, so I found myself using quite a bit of ammo as a lot of my shots hit the enemy’s body instead of the head. Thankfully, you do tend to find quite a bit of ammo, especially if you use the scanner. Still, the fact that I don’t have nearly perfect aim just added to the challenge for me, and it’s one that didn’t feel too frustrating.
While the game itself is really nicely done, it’s not without its frustrations, personal aiming issues notwithstanding. First off, like a few other survival-horror games I’ve played, you have no visible life bar. Now a lot of games have this, such as Call of Duty, and as such there’s typically a way to tell where you stand on health. With Call of Duty though, the screen may go a bit monochrome, you’ll see a bit of blood or blurriness, and the sound dampens a bit. However, a bit of cover and you’ll be fine shortly. In Revelations though, when you take some decent damage, the screen goes a bit monochrome, you’ll see blood on the screen, and the contrast will darken. It’s an interesting idea, until you get so damaged that it’s hard to see what you’re doing because the screen is so darkened and blood splattered. Granted it’s not impossible, but it is annoying. The next annoyance may just be my failure to aim properly, but it’s kind of annoying when you’re aiming for a particular spot on a monster, only to have it constantly moving about. Then again, these aren’t zombies that walk stiff-legged in a straight line towards you, so it makes a bit more sense that they’d thrash about a bit more. However, it does become a problem when they close in on you. You do have a way to evade enemy attacks, but it’s iffy at best. Right when an enemy is about to attack you, either hit the analog nub up, or move it down and press B, and you’ll dodge the attack. The problem is that you have to be practically spot on, or the evasion will fail and you’ll get slammed with an attack. Case and point, I practiced against a basic ooze in Episode 1 and I was able to dodge every attack it threw at me, leaving me able to poke it to death with the combat knife. The next ooze I tried this with, I only got a few dodges in and I had to back off and pump it full of handgun ammo to finish it off. If you can get the timing down, it’s effective, but otherwise, it’s almost not worth it.
The last things to talk about are Raid Mode and Missions. After clearing certain parts of Campaign Mode, you’ll begin unlocking stages in Raid Mode. This is similar to Mercenaries Mode in past games, in that you have to clear out enemies in the various stages. However, instead of going against a clock, you’re trying to make it to the goal. How you do determines how many battle points you get, which you can use (along with 3DS Play Coins) to buy new weapons to use. You can choose from any available stage and character, and customize your weapons. Each character has a special trait, such as Jill being able to reload the machine gun at 200% speed. Missions are kind of like achievements, in that when one is fulfilled, you get whatever unlockable it says, such as a weapon, costume, or extra missions or Raid Mode stages. Raid Mode can also be played co-operatively, either locally or online.
Overall, Resident Evil: Revelations is a really good game, and I highly recommend it if you’re a survival-horror fan. If you’re like me and have been put off by past games in the franchise for one reason or another, this may be the game to change your mind about the series. Certainly did for me. The graphics and sound are nicely done, and the voice acting couldn’t get much better. There is quite a bit of replay value thanks to Raid Mode, and the main campaign itself can take a lot of time to complete, especially those not too experienced with Resident Evil games. As much as some parts of the game nearly had me throwing my 3DS out the window, I’d definitely say it’s one of the better games in my collection, and that collection includes games like Super Mario 3D Land, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. If you like other RE games, this is a must buy. If you’re a little sketchy on survival-horror games, this could be the game to get you on the band wagon. You can also download a demo from the 3DS eShop to check it out prior to making the purchase, so if you’re still not sure, give the demo a shot.