Inside Pulse 12

Book Review: Resident Evil: Revelations Official Complete Works

Resident Evil: Revelations Official Complete Works
Publisher: Titan Books
Cost: $19.99 (MSRP)/$14.98 (Amazon.com)
Page Count: 200 Pages
Release Date: 07/07/15
Get it Here: Amazon.com

Well this is certainly an odd surprise, release-wise; while I’m generally interested in Resident Evil artwork, especially concept art, this is a bit of a late release, all things considered. The original Resident Evil: Revelations came out in 2012, and even going by the console release in 2013, the game is over two years old at this point. The closest thing it ties into is the retail release of the Vita version of Revelations 2, though it doesn’t include anything from that game, so the timing is a bit curious from a tie-in perspective. Taken on its own merits, however, Resident Evil: Revelations Official Complete Works is a good enough idea in theory; Revelations is the last game in the series to receive generally high acclaim from fans and reviewers alike, after all, so releasing an art book based around it rather than later games is probably the best bet. Well, since Titan Books was nice enough to provide us a copy of the book to paw through, let’s take a look and see if that “in theory” turns out to bear out in the actual final product.

Resident Evil: Revelations Official Complete Works is a roughly two hundred page art book. The book is a softcover, and the pages are glossy print, which gives the printed work a high-quality look that’s eye-catching and interesting. The book is divided into five chapters, each of which focuses on different concepts to show off various elements of the design, development and marketing process. The first chapter, “Visual Art,” is about sixteen pages long, and revolves around the high-quality promotional art used for advertising the game. We’re given several amazing high-quality pieces here that were used as concept pieces, advertising work, cover art around the world and more, all of which looks absolutely fantastic on the printed page. There are also creator comments on each piece, which gives us a bit of insight into why things were designed the way they were. This is actually really interesting right from jump, as comments are made about Parker’s appearance (“he was the first ever realistic, middle-aged male character in Resident Evil”) and Chris being drawn with short sleeves in the arctic (“Because it’s what Chris would do.”), and it’s really interesting to see the thought process that went into the pieces. There’s also a lot of discussion on why pages are laid out the way they are and what the artistic intent was in the design, so those who are into that sort of discussion will like this section quite a bit.

The second chapter is dubbed “Humans,” and as you’d expect, it’s about seventy four pages detailing the designs of the various human characters who appear in the game, including what went into their core design, what went into their secondary design, why certain designs were discarded, and other fun elements. Jill, being the main character, gets the most discussion on her design in this section, as several points are made toward why her core design was the way it was, what concepts were incorporated here, and reference points (including Gundam oddly enough) for how the costume was finally created. There’s also a lot of discussion on her pirate costume, including how it came about and how it was designed, as well as discussion on other costumes the art director submitted, which were… very skin heavy (and he notes he basically almost got canned for them, and yet Jessica exists, somehow). There’s even a picture of Jill in a Star Gladiators June costume, which… probably would’ve been pretty cool, actually, especially if it meant we could get a “Parker as Bilstein” costume as well. Jessica, oddly enough, also gets a sizable chunk of space here, as the creators spent a lot of time refining her different costumes and general appearance, while Parker and Chris more or less looked very similar in all iterations and mostly saw redesigns based on their costumes. The rest of the cast, including Keith, Quint, Rachel and Hunk/Lady Hunk only get two to four pages each, so fans of the lower exposure characters will still get some info here, but not as much as you might hope. The last three pages are devoted to the weaponry and emblems used in the game, and while there’s some mild commentary here, this is more of a gallery of finished products than anything else.

The third chapter, “Enemies,” is a sixty four page outline of all of the monsters who made it into the game and the designs surrounding their development. A sizable portion of this chapter is devoted to the Ooze grunts, partially because of how ever-present they are in the game, but also because there’s a lot to show off in how they developed from their initial concepts. There’s a lot of explanation here relating to why the Ooze monsters look the way they do, both in general and relative to the specific variations, and it’s actually pretty helpful for those who were confused about their generally blank appearance. There’s also a pretty decent amount of discussion into the development of the more abnormal designs, like Ooze Rachel, the Fenrir dogs and the Sea Creeper, so you’ve got a pretty good resource here to explain why everything looks the way it does and how designs came about for basically every core monster in the game. From here the book goes right into the bosses and more complex monsters, which offers an extensive amount of discussion into their development, and each monster gets several pages unto itself as the creators explain exactly what went into their design. There’s a lot of discussion on Japanese horror concepts here, as well as notes about names being derived from The Divine Comedy, and honestly, there’s a lot here that’s really engaging and well worth reading through as you look over the images presented. From here the chapter wraps up with a couple images of Raid Mode only monsters and some concepts of monsters that never made it beyond the design phase. I totally agree with Noyama that the lobster monster included in this set looks really interesting, though the clown fish… not so much.

The fourth chapter, “Environments,” is an eighteen page look at the design concepts that went into the game world, and this chapter is basically Tomoko Takahashi’s chapter, as every explanation here, from the design concepts to the inspirations and beyond, is written by Takahashi throughout. There’s a good bit of interesting work to see here, from the “in development” environments to the explanations of why certain environments look a certain way and beyond, and even though it’s a short chapter, there’s some really interesting ideas here that are worth a read. From here we move into the fifth and final chapter, “Extra,” which is twenty one pages of odds and ends that wouldn’t fit into any other chapter. The chapter begins with a discussion on Movie Storyboards, which is probably the most interesting part of the chapter, as it gives a fairly extensive explanation on how the storyboards come together using a few examples from the game, and anyone interested in 3D movie development will likely enjoy this chapter a bit. From there we go into Japanese advertising media, which is a fun novelty if you’re interested in how different marketing is in Japan from how it is here. We then get into a section on tie-in merchandise, which is really interesting, as it details the more mundane merchandise you’d expect (3DS cases, clothing) and some more questionable choices (watches, jewelry, an Airsoft gun), and it’s really amusing to see what tie-ins Capcom went with here. Finally, there’s a section that provides all of the files and notes available in the game in text form for those who like to read through this sort of thing, and a credits section that outlines everyone involved in the process of creating this piece.

All told, Resident Evil: Revelations Official Complete Works is one of the few artbooks that I feel is worth its asking price for fans of any level of dedication, as it’s rather inexpensive for what it provides, and is also absolutely stuffed full of interesting content from beginning to end. The artwork alone is interesting enough, as there’s a lot of developmental work here that shows how much of the game evolved, but it’s the commentary and extras that really push this over the top. Having the entire creative staff on-hand to provide their insight on how they developed everything and what went into their decisions is excellent, as is the section detailing things like storyboarding and weird novelty tie-ins, and it’s simple things like this that make this a real must-have for any fan of the franchise. It’s a great piece for several reasons, really, and whether you’re a casual fan or a diehard one, you’ll love most of what’s here.