When Resident Evil: Revelations came out last year, it was overshadowed by the impending release of console big brother, Resident Evil 6. While Resident Evil 6 ended up being criticized for a multitude of issues and is still routinely ravaged today, Revelations was praised as a refreshing return to form for a franchise that had long strayed from its roots. Even though the adoption rate of the 3DS has significantly increased since the game’s original release, Capcom is trying to right the wrongs of 6 by treating Resident Evil: Revelations like the real successor of the franchise. While it’s not the revelation (pun most definitely intended) it’s been built up to be, it’s clear from Jill’s first steps that this is the definitive version of a refreshing throwback.
As I originally experienced Revelations before 6 was released, it’s amazing how straightforward and less convoluted the plot seems now by comparison. A grotesque mystery, Revelations concerns fallen futuristic city, “Terragrigia,” abandoned luxury ocean-liner, the SS Queen Zenobia and a terrorist group called II Vetro. While the spooky ship is seemingly unrelated to the awful attacks II Vetro carried out in Terragrigia, things are clearly not what they seem when Jill Valentine and Parker Luciani board it in search of Chris Redfield only to discover a dummy doppelgänger and a Conan O’Brien impersonator lurking the corridors.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest things that plagued the original game remains and proves more annoying in the console format. The tight corridors of an abandoned ship are the perfect setting for an old-fashioned Resident Evil experience, but a misguided decision was made to frequently break away from them to have action packed levels with Chris or Parker. A complete departure from the serious tone of the ship levels, these feature shotguns, machine guns and horrendously groan-inducing lines from Jessica about how pretty and ignored she is. They’re solid action pieces that are fun to play through, but in a game that so perfectly captures old-school terror, they serve as a constant distraction that kills the disquieting atmosphere.
Of course, they’re also part of an underlying problem with the console adaption, which is that the bite-sized episodic flow doesn’t transfer well. Instead of simply having a huge map to explore, the game is comprised of over ten small levels in multiple areas. After reaching the next level, you’re presented with a “Previously in Resident Evil: Revelations…” video which is unnecessary for those gaming at home with a longer attention-span. If the game cut out all the action levels and doubled the map size of the ship, this could have easily ranked amongst the top the series has to offer.
Alas, aside from qualms that have been simmering in my psyche for over a year, Revelations remains a strong game that plays better than ever on consoles. Gone is the need for combined camera/movement or the unwieldily behemoth that is the Circle Pad Pro, instead replaced with intuitive controls that make combat easier, scanning quicker and shooting feel more natural with triggers. One of the best looking games on the 3DS to this day, Revelations looks noticeably better here in HD. Almost everything is smooth as butter, with environment textures more defined and easier to make-out. Cutscenes are worthy of the latest AAA console release and character models see the most noticeable improvement, no longer full of jaggies; Jessica’s “sweet ass” is actually round and Raymond Vester’s patented orange Pompadour is slightly less shockingly horrific.
As you’re no longer huddled over a tiny screen with likely distractions and outside light, sections in the ship are more frightening — especially if you’re playing on a large TV in darkness with surround sound. Lighting effects have been improved and the disgusting mutated appendages of your enemies ooze and pulsate in ways you couldn’t see on the 3DS. There’s a loss in depth and the lack of a constant map on a second screen is unfortunate, but those loses pale in comparison to what’s gained here. Besides the graphical overhaul, new features are included such as Infernal Mode, an improved Raid Mode and a new enemy in the Wall Blister. Infernal Mode is certainly the mode you’ll want to play the game on if you beat the original and didn’t get completely rocked, as it adds a ton of enemies, changes object location and make things ever so punishing. Neither that nor the improved Raid Mode is worth buying the game again for, but they are fun diversions for seasoned fans of the original.
While flaws that were present in the original game remain firmly in place, there’s no denying that Resident Evil Revelations is a solid entry into the series — handheld or not. A more intimate affair rather than a blockbuster, it recalls terrific classic elements that have been sorely missed, easily besting the latest main-series entry. The impressive handheld-to-console ports looks spectacular, plays better than before and is the definitive way to experience Resident Evil: Revelations. Those who got their fill of the 3DS version need not apply, but anybody yet to undergo the thrills and chills of Revelations should skip the 3D and head straight for a controller.
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360