Also On: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Spin-off titles, especially handheld only entries, are rarely as good as their progenitors. A few examples come to mind, stuff like Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep certainly felt as fleshed out and polished as their home console brethren. I’d also count this game, Resident Evil Revelations, as one of the better handheld side entries for a franchise series. But if you missed out on the game when it released on 3DS, either due to not owning the system or being a little gun-shy on Resident Evil spin-offs, you’re in luck. The HD port heading to Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, and PC this week doesn’t screw up the transition from small screen to big.
Stuck somewhere in between the timespan between Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations focuses mostly on Jill Valentine and new BSAA partner Parker as they explore an abandoned cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, which of course is filled with monsters and mutants that want to kill them in a variety of gruesome ways. Chris Redfield also plays a fairly big role here, helping to bridge the gap between the aforementioned main series titles. The rest of the cast is an eclectic mix of newcomers, some great, some awful. But by and large this entry does a decent job of adhering to the Resident Evil mythos without being beholden to a lot of the existing lore. Would I call it a perfect jumping on point? Maybe not. But you don’t need to brush up on your various lettered virus strains and the Albert Wesker family tree in order to grasp most of what happens throughout.
One plus, setting this entry apart from more recent entries like Resident Evil 5 and 6, is that the cruise liner setting is actually creepy. I don’t think anyone playing is going to have trouble sleeping, or will find themselves startled, but compared to the more action oriented entries the series has seen, Revelations manages to feel like a blast from the past. The cruise ship feels very reminiscent of the original mansion grounds, with lots of passages, alternate paths, some puzzle solving, and rooms cordoned off by doors and locks. You don’t necessarily need to kill everything you see, you’ll need to run and dodge constantly, and earlier parts of the game will certainly force you to be more conservative on ammo. Some of this changes the more you play, ammo becomes a non-issue when you get used to scanning your environment for hidden caches and goods, but Revelations still manages to keep you on your toes throughout the 10 to 12 hours it takes to complete.
The only real negative I’d level against the campaign is the need for the cruise ship chapters to be broken up by everything else. Revelations feels like the spawning place for the split story format we saw in Resident Evil 6, but it never lets you choose the order and forces the player back and forth from team to team as the plot advances. You’ll trapeze around abandoned terrorist bases and snow covered mountains, but most of these sequences allow for little exploring, puzzle solving, or actual horror. They’re more reminiscent of the modern Resident Evil, focused on action and the number of enemies more so than surprise and plain old survival. I’m not entirely opposed to either, but they strike an awkward contrast in style compared to the core bits of the game, and end up feeling detrimental to the pacing.
I played the majority of this port on the Wii U, but also had time to sample the PS3 version of the game. I was certainly more interested in seeing the Wii U version, it’s the most feature-rich version of the game releasing this week. There’s off-screen play via the GamePad, inventory and map control via the touch screen while playing on TV, and the limited MiiVerse functionality for both Raid Mode and Game Over screens. Off-screen play is the best of the bunch, the game looks legitimately good ported over, and it helps mask some of the visual deficiencies naturally found in an HD port like this. That’s not to say Resident Evil Revelations is a bad looking game, but you won’t mistake it for a game bred on any of these platforms.
The only real detriment I could find between the two versions played, and one that will surely annoy most and needs to be fixed, is the ridiculous dead-zone on the Wii U version of the game. Dead-zone, for those not familiar with the term, is the amount of space you can push an analog stick without seeing an on-screen response. Most games incorporate one, but most do a better job of masking it than Revelations does here. Assuming it can be patched, and I hope it can be, I couldn’t find much else to complain about between the Wii U and PS3 versions.
But the biggest selling point for Resident Evil Revelations doesn’t come from its campaign, or the additional characters and skins found in these ports. Instead, it’s the chance to play through and immerse yourself in the excellent Raid Mode. This is a single player or online co-op mode that allows you to take a number of characters through various stages built around locations from the campaign, but streamlined into bite-sized chunks of run and gun action. You’ll need to gun down enemies, gain experience, collect loot, and level up your characters for a chance to take on increasingly difficult challenges. There’s enough here to make Raid Mode a game unto itself, and it’s nearly worth the price of admission alone. I can’t overstate how great an addition this particular mode is to the series; my only regret is not having ample time to test the game online prior to the review. Assuming the netcode is up to snuff, you’ll definitely get some enjoyment out of it, even if the campaign doesn’t light your world on fire.
I definitely suggest checking out Resident Evil Revelations, especially if you missed out on it the first time around. This is a solid port of the 3DS game, and while not as visually impressive on current hardware as it was on a portable format, it’s certainly not a bad looking port by any means. The dead-zone issues on the Wii U version are unfortunate, but I find myself willing to trade that for the GamePad functionality alone. The MiiVerse features aren’t exciting, but scrawling a Game Over message to taunt other players with isn’t a bad addition either. Raid Mode certainly bumps up the value, quite a bit actually, enough so that even if you’ve played through Revelations to death on the 3DS, I’ve a good feeling you won’t have much trouble doing so again.