Console re-releases of handheld games are always risky propositions, no matter what the game in question is. Often you get poorly-handled ports that look awful, and don’t adapt well to the console control schemes. On rare occasions, however, you get an updated version that matches the original game and feels right at home on consoles. Resident Evil: Revelations, last year’s 3DS release, is now in HD on modern consoles, and it’s a perfect fit. It probably won’t satisfy those who have already experienced the original version, but it provides evidence that not all re-releases are worth skipping.
Taking place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations follows series veterans Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield on a mission to explore a cruise ship, the Queen Zenobia, which has known connections to a bioterrorist organization. The two begin separated, but it isn’t long before they are reunited and facing the terrors of the Queen Zenobia together. And yeah, there are zombies, or at least mutated creatures that are referred to as zombies.
There is more to the game’s simplistic story, but you’ll have a hard time remembering any of it. Like most games in the series, Revelations’ plot is silly and rather pointless, with very few actual revelations to be found. Not to say anyone is playing a Resident Evil game for the story, but it feels less like a main entry in the series and more like a spin-off featuring recognizable characters.
As an update of a 3DS game, Resident Evil: Revelations looks stunning. There are some moments when it’s clear that the game was made for a handheld, but disregarding that, it looks and sounds just as good as the most recent releases in the series. Give this game to someone who has no idea of its origins, and see if they can figure out it didn’t begin its life on HD consoles.
The game plays similarly to the recent Resident Evil titles (RE4 and beyond to be more specific), but also allows you to move and shoot simultaneously, which, when this game was originally released, was a first for the series. While you never have to take advantage of this small-but-effective change, it often felt necessary when dealing with some of the larger groups of enemies later on in the game. And thankfully, no matter how you approach combat, it’s incredibly satisfying. The aiming feels a little off at first, but I was quickly able to adjust to it and was getting headshots without much trouble.
The Wii U-exclusive features
The Wii U version has a few extras that add a little something special to the experience. There is Miiverse support, giving you a chance to see the death messages of people who died during specific sections of the game, which is a nice touch. The GamePad’s functionality as a map, however, was the feature I found to be most useful. It was one of the best use cases of the “second screen” Wii U experience I’ve seen, as it always helped in a pinch.
The weapons themselves all feel great as well, and each can be upgraded with certain modifiers that can increase your damage, clip size or stopping power. This system works well and allows you to swap modifiers between guns, giving you an opportunity to experiment with different weapons and combinations of modifiers whenever possible. You can only carry three guns at a time, but you will often have a chance to switch your inventory (and weapon modifiers) around, so you’ll never feel like you’re stuck with the wrong weapon set at the wrong opportunities.
Revelations features a decent variety of enemies, many of which are making their first appearances in a Resident Evil game. Most of the creatures you face are variants of the game’s most basic enemy, with some that shoot projectiles, others with chainsaw-like blades for arms and others equipped with shields to protect their most vulnerable spots. They manage to introduce new enemies frequently enough early on, but there is a lack of variety that persists throughout. While the combat never becomes stale, you will begin to get tired of the game’s lack of more interesting encounters near the end.
Thankfully, the environments are excellent, full of detail and with the right amount of creepy atmosphere, making sure you never get bored of exploring the ship. Keeping the setting in one central location for the majority of the game is a Resident Evil staple, and it’s nice to see a return to that form in Revelations. Yes, there is some backtracking, but I never grew tired of the game’s sense of exploration and discovery. There are a small handful of sections that take place off of the ship, but these are short and, unsurprisingly enough, the least interesting sections of the game.
Outside of the campaign, there is Raid Mode, a Mercenaries-style extra mode meant for up to two players. Unlike Mercenaries, Raid Mode is more objective-based, giving you (and your potential teammate) unlimited time to get to the end of the level while facing down waves of enemies from the main game. You also earn points which you can use to buy new weapons and weapon upgrades, allowing you to experiment even more with certain weapons and modifiers than in the story mode.
The enemies are also different in some unique ways. While the enemy types are the same, some will be special versions of those enemies. For example, some will be made giant, with more powerful attacks and taking more hits to defeat. Some are smaller and faster and can be killed quickly, but can also sneak up on you if not taken care of fast enough. All of this adds up to a co-op mode that is surprisingly effective and quite addictive, giving the game plenty of life after its somewhat-short story mode.
For those who once considered themselves huge fans of the Resident Evil series, Revelations is a huge breath of fresh air. It takes what works about the newer games, and combines it skillfully with the moody atmosphere and level design from the classics. It has its issues and it won’t convince any non-Resident Evil fans to give the series more of a chance, but for those looking for an action-horror game more reminiscent of the series’ heritage, you can’t go wrong here.
Pros: Excellent combat with satisfying weapons, brilliant and atmospheric level design, addictive Raid Mode
Cons: Forgettable story, lack of decent enemy variety is a disappointment