Review: Resident Evil: Revelations (Sony Playstation 3)

Resident Evil: Revelations
Genre: Survival Horror
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: 05/21/13

Last year, the Nintendo 3DS was graced by the release of Resident Evil: Revelations, which was simultaneously one of the best games to come out for the system up to that point, one of the best entries in the franchise overall, and the best release for the franchise that year. Capcom’s not one to leave money on the table, however, and given that there’s a much larger overall installed user base for the current generation consoles than there is the 3DS, they’ve opted to bring Resident Evil: Revelations to the console market. This isn’t a bad idea, to be honest; between the three release consoles, there’s a much larger market to offer the game to that might have missed the 3DS version entirely, and for fans who loathed Resident Evil 6, this game is much more in line with the traditional expectations for the series. Well, the console release does make a strong case for those who’ve not played the 3DS release, with its upgraded visuals, online Raid Mode play, and generally solid gameplay that made the 3DS version a must have. For those who have played the 3DS game, however, the game might be somewhat of a harder sell, as for all of the additions that are made to the console release, they don’t amount to as much as you’d expect.

The plot of Resident Evil: Revelations is functionally identical to that of the 3DS release. The events take place in 2005, apparently, and are set as taking place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The setup is that, back in 2004, the artificial island nation of Terragrigia was hit with a Bio Organic Weapon attack by a terrorist group identified as Veltro as some sort of demonstration against Terragrigia’s reliance on solar energy. The end result is that the island is deemed non-salvageable, those who are still alive are evacuated, and the island is hit with a direct shot from the Regia Solis, a giant orbital solar beam cannon, destroying the entire city, which is then declared a biohazard zone in the aftermath. A year later, Jill Valentine and her partner Parker Luciani are sent to investigate a boat, the Queen Zenobia, in search of Chris Redfield and his partner Jessica Sherawat. It turns out the boat is filled with a fairly sizable contingent of monsters infected with what is dubbed the T-Abyss virus, and also is apparently some type of staging platform for another terrorist attack from the revived Veltro group, as they’re intending to use the T-Abyss virus to make a lot of people dead. The plot bounces around between Chris, Jill, Parker and Jessica, among others, as the twists and turns become more complex and the situation becomes more tense, and the end result is one of the more involved Resident Evil plots in a while. It’s kind of weird to look at the plot for Resident Evil: Revelations and reflect on the idea that the technology levels for this game in particular are significantly more advanced than they are in our own world, especially when (aside from the odd laser cannon here and there) the prior games never really made this obvious, but that aside, the plot is pretty fun. The storyline is presented in a serial television sort of way, where each chapter and each time you load your game you’re treated to a “Previously on…” lead-in, which is cute, if nothing else, and keeps the plot fresh in your mind as you play. Granted, it’s still a Resident Evil plot, so it’s a little silly and the pseudo-science doesn’t really make a lot of sense, but it’s well told and enjoyable on a level that makes you want to see it through to the end, and it ties the events together well enough to be understandable.

While the visuals for Resident Evil: Revelations were stellar on the 3DS, the console release features “HD” versions of the same visuals, which means that the texture quality has been upscaled a bit, but the game isn’t really top-tier visually. That’s not to say it looks bad, as the character models and enemies generally look very high quality, and the animations are as spot on as they were on the 3DS, but you’ll see some obvious texture quality issues in the backgrounds or on some enemies as you play. The game basically looks higher quality than the Resident Evil 4 port, but not as good as Resident Evil 6, from a technical perspective, which isn’t too bad, given the circumstances. The lighting effects have also been improved a bit, which is excellent, as they were pretty top notch in the 3DS release, and the artistic sensibilities and wide variety of locales you’ll visit remain intact here, as well. As such, overall, the game looks pretty good, minus some texture hiccups here and there, as well as the odd stylistic choices (Jessica, I’m looking at you, again) that were awkward in the original. Aurally, the game is as outstanding as it was on the 3DS. The game music follows the standard trend of its franchise, featuring excellently composed pieces that contribute to the dread or tension of a scene nicely, and all of the in-game tracks are well assembled and inserted into the game. The game offers both English and Japanese voice acting, and both voice casts do a good job with what they’re given. The sound effects are also pretty fantastic, and while the monsters you face aren’t as varied in vocal effects as the infected in, say, Resident Evil 5, they still manage to sound pretty imposing over the convincing backdrop of your gunfire.

The gameplay in Resident Evil: Revelations generally works about as well as one would expect, and while the PS3 version lacks the touch screen support of the 3DS (one assumes the Wii U version plays identically) it works around this fine. The left stick moves while the right stick aims, and you can either use the standard “tank controls” or more obvious “shooter controls” that allow for strafing with the left stick. Pressing the L1 button draws your armed weapon for shooting anything before you, and yes, you can move while shooting here, which is basically the best thing Capcom could have included, even if it’s a few games later than it should have been. When your weapon is drawn, R1 shoots, while R1 by itself issues a melee attack against enemies or boxes in front of you as needed. The Triangle button is hotkeyed to instantly use herbs, the R2 button tosses grenades and other secondary weapons, Square automatically reloads, and you can quick turn with a press of down and X to spin one hundred and eighty degrees if needed. The PS3 version of the game lacks the touch screen inventory and map options of its handheld counterpart, but works around this by mapping Select as a menu button that allows you instant access to your inventory and a map as needed. You can also hot-swap primary and secondary weapons with the D-Pad, with left and right swapping primary weapons and up and down swapping secondary weapons on the fly. As such, the game is instantly accessible for anyone who might be interested, as its controls are very simple to work with and understand, and both fans and franchise newcomers should be able to jump right in with no problems and slay monsters with the best of them.

As in the 3DS, you’re also offered a search tool, dubbed the Genesis, which allows you to search around environments and scan enemies as needed. By holding L2, your character pulls the tool out and holds it as if it were a gun, which is basically how it functions: point and shoot. Rather than dealing damage, however, the tool allows you to find hidden items in the environment and scan enemies, either alive or dead. When searching for items, you’ll look around the area and, if something is hidden, a yellow light will pop up in the corner telling you as such. As you look around you’ll notice a circular indicator on the hidden item, and if you center the scanner on the item and hold down the fire button, you’ll scan the item and reveal it, allowing you to claim it as your own. These items are mostly either plot specific items or ammo and healing power-ups, but the odd custom parts will show up doing so, and you can also find hidden handprints around the game world to scan, so it pays to keep an eye out whenever possible. Scanning enemies works in much the same way: target an enemy, hold down the fire button to scan it, and wait until finished. However, instead of providing any inventory additions on its own, scanning enemies instead fills a scan bar at the top of the screen for each scan you perform. Once the bar is filled, it resets to zero and you’re automatically given a healing herb for your troubles, which allows you to keep your health supplies high as you progress. Scanning living enemies is more profitable than scanning dead ones, and larger boss-like enemies provide more points and even the opportunity to scan them multiple times, but the risk of scanning something that’s trying to kill you makes it problematic to try, so it’s fairly important to be aware of this so as not to get smeared.

The PS3 release is absent the touch screen controls of its 3DS predecessor, but it replaces them well enough such that they’re not notable by their absence. You’ll not see the novelty elements of unscrewing panels by touch, but the circuit puzzles are still here, only you manipulate them with the analog sticks, which works fine. The inventory system has also been mapped to the Select button, so you can jump in and out as needed with no trouble at all. The game also incorporates swimming mechanics, as you’ll spend a decent amount of time in or underwater, which mostly incorporates using the sticks to swim and look around. You can’t fight directly while underwater, but you’ll find a few different types of sub-weapons that are useful for taking out enemies in the odd cases where combat is unavoidable, and you’ll need to routinely surface for air in all but one section, which adds to the puzzle solving elements a bit. Speaking of sub-weapons, let’s address them a bit. In the more recent franchise titles, you’d have your knife armed at all times and be able to carry explosives that took up inventory space to use if needed, but Resident Evil: Revelations does away with all of that. Instead, your knife and any explosives you might find fall under the sub-weapons category, allowing you to swap between them with a press of the left and right directions on the D-Pad, and use them with the sub-weapon button, depending on your layout. This makes weapon management dramatically easier than in prior games, as all of your tools are available to you whenever you need them, though it also means that, without a set amount of inventory space, you’re instead given specific limits on how much of anything you can carry. To work around this, you’ll also find the odd packs lying around here and there that expand your carrying capacity of various things (mostly ammo), so you’ll be able to carry around more of the things you need at one time, making life a good bit easier in the process.

As you traverse the different locations, usually while playing as Jill, you’ll find large green containers that you can interact with. These are weapon storage boxes, which allow you to store and upgrade your weaponry as needed. Once you open the box, you’re dropped into an inventory management screen that allows you to swap out your weapons (on the top) from anything you have in storage (from the bottom). Further, should you happen to find a new weapon somewhere in the game world, whatever weapon you dropped to pick it up will also appear back in the storage box, ready and waiting for you, making weapon trading more user friendly than it would have been otherwise. The Custom Parts you find will also make their usefulness known here, as any time you open the weapon storage with either unidentified Custom Parts or Illegal Custom Parts (which are better overall), the game will helpfully tell you what, exactly, you picked up. You can then examine a weapon to add parts to it, depending on how many slots it has, though certain parts can only be added to certain gun types as well. Additionally, parts can have various levels of capability, so if you find a level one damage booster, then later find a level five damage booster, feel free to swap that out as needed. It’s also good to note that parts aren’t permanently tied to the weapon you stick them on, so if you find a better hand pistol you can transition the parts from the old one to the new one easily, though you can’t stack multiple parts of the same type, unfortunately, so no one-shot pistols, alas. Still, the mechanic works fairly well, all in all, and it’s user friendly and doesn’t require the suspension of disbelief a currency-based system on an abandoned ship might have, for instance.

The game doesn’t exactly contain the missions that the handheld release offered, as it commonly tracks performance via Achievements and such, though some things, such as stage progression, handprints scanned and so on are still tracked. What the console release does instead is it offers you the option to connect your game to, which allows you to sync data between the online account and the local game. This, in turn, gives you points for performing tasks which can be used to unlock content on the site, as well as to send Raid Mode weapons and boosts to your game, giving you new bonuses and weapons to play with as you make progress. Raid Mode itself also deserves a good amount of explanation, because it’s almost an entirely different animal from the prior franchise multiplayer mode, The Mercenaries, and is actually much more interesting. When you start off Raid Mode, you can choose from any of the available characters you’ve unlocked, each of whom are automatically better than the others at something, be it using pistols, rifles, machine guns, or what have you. From there, you jump into one of the missions available, which tasks you to find the marker in the game world that completes the mission, using only what you have on your person and what you find in the environment. As you go, you’ll encounter enemies of different types, potentially with special effects applied to them, that you’ll have to avoid or demolish, as well as new weapons and attachments to play with. Completing missions earns you bonus points you can use to buy new gear in the shop, including new weapons, attachments and ammo/health refills/upgrades. The game also scales weapons to your character level, offering new guns with added damage or slots to scale as you level up. So, in other words, it’s Resident Evil by way of Diablo for up to two players, and it’s absolutely awesome alone or with friends.

You can plow through the story in about ten to fifteen hours, depending on how long you spend searching around for hidden items and handprints and such, though the campaign also offers a New Game Plus mode that allows you to go back through the game on higher difficulties with your gear intact. Raid Mode is also a great time, featuring sixty plus levels of monster slaying and item collecting across three difficulties that you can play alone or with a friend, to unlock new characters, costumes and fantastic gear. There are also a large amount of missions to complete across both the campaign and Raid Mode that unlock new toys in both modes, giving you even more reason to keep playing both. You can unlock new characters and costumes for Raid Mode through playing through the different modes as well, so you needn’t go through in the same old duds even if you like your chosen character. The console release even adds in new characters to play as if you’ve done everything you can with the 3DS version and want new characters to use. In other words, Resident Evil: Revelations is an exceptionally in-depth game, and it’s easily stuffed with replay value for anyone who is a fan or just wants something robust to play.

Sadly, as this is essentially a console port of the 3DS original, the question that comes up eventually is “does this bring enough to the table to be worth owning if you have the original?” and in this case, the answer is “that depends on how much time you intend to spend with Raid Mode.” When looking at the storyline content, the additions are meager; while the swimming controls have been notably improved, you’re only going to see one new enemy type, Inferno difficulty (basically Hell difficulty with remixed item locations) and some mildly upgraded visuals here and there. Raid Mode is where all of the “cool” stuff comes in, thanks to the tie-in to, the added characters and weapons, the DLC that’s coming for even more characters, the extra costumes and so on. If you’re in it for the campaign alone, in other words, if you’ve played the 3DS game, you’ve seen what the game has to offer already. Further, some of the complaints from the prior game are intact here, meaning that manual saves are not an option and checkpoint saves are the only way to go, the campaign is solo only despite so much of it featuring a second character, the general uselessness of your CPU allies for damage or distraction, and the awkward change in functionality when swapping between characters in the campaign. The aiming mechanics also feel less sound in comparison to the 3DS game, and feel a bit floaty; they’re not bad, so to say, and you’ll learn how to consistently nail headshots in time, but they take some adjusting to and don’t feel as strong as they did on the 3DS.

If you’ve never played Resident Evil: Revelations before, or you’re a huge sucker for Raid Mode, you’ll find the game to be worth your time, but for those who have played the original and were hoping for something cheaper or more robust, you might want to wait on the console release for a price drop. The plot is basically about as enjoyably insane as it ever was, and the game looks solid (if obviously upscaled) and sounds fantastic, so newcomers and 3DS fans should find the game to be aesthetically solid at the very least. The simplified gameplay mechanics translate well over to the PS3 and generally work well in the change from the handheld to the console, and for the most part, the controls are either as good as or better than they are on the 3DS. There’s still an astonishingly large amount of content in the game, both in the main campaign and in the multiplayer Raid Mode, and anyone who is a fan of the franchise or simply shooting things until they stop moving will find the game to be a great investment that justifies its asking price. The added content is more tuned toward expanding Raid Mode, so for those who’ve played the original campaign, you’ll find little to bring you through it here, though those who are new to the game or love Raid Mode, you’ll find the investment worthwhile. Additionally, some of the flaws from the original exist here, so your CPU allies basically seem to be window dressing instead of anything useful, the lack of a manual save can be vexing at times, and the fact that you can’t upgrade anyone but Jill in the campaign is unfortunate. The aiming also feels somewhat touchy in comparison to the 3DS version, though you can learn to work around it. If you’ve never played Resident Evil: Revelations or you loved the handheld game and are eager for more, this is definitely a worthwhile investment if you can look past the less than top-tier visuals, though for those expecting a more robust package overall may want to wait for a price drop. The game is absolutely outstanding, pound for pound, and makes a good case for ownership, but it mostly does so in its multiplayer, and whether or not you’re mostly interested in that will decide how motivated you are to jump on board.

Short Attention Span Summary:
The console release of Resident Evil: Revelations does a good job of converting the game to the consoles, offering more content and a generally well adapted transfer, though for those who’ve played the original, how interested you’ll be depends on what brings you to the dance in the first place. The story is your standard over the top but enjoyable franchise fare, and the game generally looks acceptable (if not amazing) and sounds excellent on the console port. The simplified mechanics translate well from the 3DS to the PS3, as the game does a good job of mapping the controls between the two and takes the lack of touch screen support into consideration well. The game also retains its own unique mechanics to keep things interesting, and between the lengthy campaign and the extensive and well implemented Raid Mode, you’ll have plenty of reasons to come back to the game long after you’ve completed it. The new content here is mostly geared toward Raid Mode, however, so those who have played the original will find little is added to the campaign, and if that’s your main point of interest, you won’t find much new here to bring you in. Further, some of the issues from the original are intact here, meaning that the CPU allies the game sticks you with seem to be more for show than any kind of function, the lack of a manual save can be a pain at times and the lack of custom options for anyone but Jill is unfortunate. The aiming can also be spotty in this version in comparison to the 3DS version, though you can learn to work around it in time. Resident Evil: Revelations is a fine release for those who’ve spent no time with it on the 3DS, or for those who loved the original and want more Raid Mode fun, as it’s certainly a solid game on its own and the additions make Raid Mode even better. More could have been done to expand the campaign, and if that’s where your interest lies you may find you’ll want to wait for a price drop, but for everyone else, this is a fine investment all in all.



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