Dipping into the backlog is always good, however when it comes to playing a new ‘Resident Evil’ the excitement reaches new levels of HYPE! Long time readers of these pages will know of my love of this franchise – but fear not this review will be unbiased and fair.
‘Resident Evil’ is a strange franchise. The first released in 1996 to universal plaudits; and rightfully so, it was almost unique in both design and tone. It was so successful that it spawned a massive number of sequels and spin-offs. As all successful franchises find though is the more games there are, the more variable their quality is (except Super Mario; has there ever been a bad Super Mario game? answers in the comments please)…
…’Resident Evil’ has found itself on the end of some bad decisions, and worse yet, bad games. The dip in form has been so lengthy that many fans have simply written off the series; those of us that have stuck around however, approach each new release with caution (I’ve yet to play ‘Resident Evil 6’ because reviews have put me off).
Maybe it was this reduced expectations; or maybe it is my rabid fanboyism for this franchise but ‘Resident Evil: Revelations’ is the best in the franchise since 4!
Ever since 4; ‘Resident Evil’ has failed to find its place in gaming, 5 merely regurgitated 4 and 6 was derided for its ‘Jack-of-all-trade’ approach. Revelations however does something very intelligent, it has created a structure and format that will keep, both, old-school and new-age fans happy! ‘Revelations’ does a great job at mixing it up and keeping the game fresh for the players.
It segments the story into ‘episodes’ (although it was never released serially) that all feel distinct within themselves, yet feel appropriate to one one another and fall nicely into the overarching story – which is excellent! This is the most aptly named game I have played, there are numerous twists and revelations, the player is seldom left with air in their lungs – it is told at a breakneck speed and it works!
As well as having distinct gameplay elements in each episode, there is also a new character who is having their own B.O.W issues.
Jill Valentine’s (and her partner Parker) story is the main core of the game, it is also the most traditional of the three as it harkens back to the original trilogy (and ‘Code Veronica’). Although it is tense, it is seldom scary which is a real shame, it is otherwise a solid experience.
Chris Redfield and Jessica’s episodes are very much the run and gun (yes you can shoot and move!) action-packed ‘Resident Evil’ from 5 and 6. These were my least favourite sections; they were by no means terrible, just the least memorable.
Keith and Quint’s episodes are a mixture of old and new, they are action driven but they have a much more substantial down time, the game also builds up to their action scenes – the mix is a mostly successful one – but the relationship between the two is incredible, they are funny and bounce off one another well, instantly endearing the player to them.
Although there is always a partner with you they are never as annoying as Sheeva, they will not waste bullets (they seem to have infinite) nor health items (as the enemies mostly ignore them). The game does a great job at marrying the two styles while suitably updating them.
Overall the approach works well, but when played in one or two sittings it can lead to it feeling a little disjointed, constantly flipping between survival horror and a shooter does take some getting used to. However as this was originally a 3DS exclusive (I know right?) it was designed to be digested in short bursts over a long time – so that is understandable. The Chris episodes however serve no real plot purposes and feel like they are just there as to not alienate fans of the newer Resi games.
And fan service is obviously something that Tose care about as the game is littered with little nods to previous games and cheesy dialogue/delivery of lines is order the day here! This is the one ‘Resident Evil’ so to speak:
“One to scare them,
One to excite them
And in the cheese, unite them”
It is in ‘Revelations’ DNA I feel that the future of this franchise lies. Everything is so polished, accomplished and sufficiently modernised (you can walk AND shoot) without alienating the fan-base but; crucially, no longer sacrificing what this series is about!
‘Revelations’ follows the trend of ‘Resident Evil’ being technically great and ahead of its time. The visual clarity is simply incredible for a game that started life on a handheld – it is; at times, a stunner! Character models are chunky and well detailed and their animation is incredible (like Jill’s reload animation!) while the world they inhabit is also well-realised and full of incidental details to make the Queen Zinobia seem like a real ship.
There however a number of reminders that this game had to fit into a tiny cartridge, the most obvious of these is the texture quality; it varies wildly, the character models and the world looks fine but on close inspection much detail is muddy and unconvincing. The levels themselves are little more than corridors too; although Jill can open up the ship fully (she is the master of unlocking after all!) and it is fully explorable, the other characters are unashamedly funneled to the next story point. It is most noticeable in Chris’ episodes; the frozen tundra has never been so perfectly man-made before! The enemy design is shockingly bland, every enemy; with the exception of bosses, look terrible. They are bland, off-white, vaguely human shapes with very little in the way of originality or horror value.
The most criticism I could aim at ‘Revelations’ though is the difficulty, there isn’t any real challenge. I breezed through the main game – until I got to the final boss – talk about a difficulty spike – I died 24 times in the boss fight alone (with a total death count of 26) and the precision needed to kill him was insane! I struggled on the PS3 but the thought of attempting it on the 3DS is enough to give me nightmares! Remember this post? The final boss goes some length to ruining the experience; if it wasn’t for my amazing twitch community I’d probably have died much more. It was an unfair boss, and I’ve no qualms in saying that.
Overall ‘Revelations’ was a great game, tense, action-packed and with a story well told. My love for ‘Resident Evil’ was sufficiently rekindled I bought 6…
…if you love traditional RE, buy this game, If you like the new-age of RE, buy this game.