Zombies! Only joking. Resident Evil doesn’t do zombies anymore, not entirely. Ever since Resident Evil 4 in 2005, the classic zombie-reinvigorating action survival horror franchise has played down the living dead in favour of ‘infected’ people. And monsters.
In Resident Evil Revelations Jill Valentine actually uses the words ‘monster’, ‘infected’ and ‘zombie’ during the course of her dialogue. Honestly, I don’t know if I recognise this Resident Evil thing anymore.
Nah, of course I do. The giant cruise ship you explore in Resident Evil Revelations looks like the mansion in the first Resident Evil. There are long corridors, ominous moanings, a tension-inducing score, cliché-strengthening voice acting… Ok, some things never change about Resident Evil.
The structure of Revelations is the most innovative aspect; favouring small half-hour gaming chunks stuffed with light puzzles, numerous monsters, some ammo and the odd bit of crummy acting. It’s a far cry from Resident Evil’s legacy of eternal puzzle solving and painstaking ammo rationing.
These chunks keep the gameplay palpable, refreshing almost. The plot, rigidly sliced into chunks of US drama-style story bombs, is a mess of middle-aged men, initials, vendettas and transparent characterisation. A bit like 24.
This works if you play Revelations on your way to work, or on the toilet. If you play it like me, like all Resident Evil games ought to be played, the ‘previously on Resident Evil…’ intros stand out as attempts to make non-episodic gaming like episodic TV. Happily, they can be skipped.
Revelations looks amazing; it’s the most beautiful piece of 3DS gaming yet, and I’m talking gameplay graphic here, not the crummy cut scenes. Because it’s nearly as pretty as Resident Evil 4, plays a lot like Resident Evil 5 and harks back to the original Resident Evil, it’s easy to expect too much. Revelations is a portable console’s survival horror, after all.
Normal mode is a breeze while Hell mode is a DS-chewing, hair-pulling struggle-me-do. Maybe my senses are dulled but while a worthy testimony to the joy of old-school-Resident Evil game play, with the conserving of ammo and the creeping menace round every corner, Hell mode feels slow to Normal mode’s fast and furious play. The added difficulty isn’t so much difficult as frustrating.
The franchise’s change from the classic fixed-camera suspense mechanic of Resident Evils 1 through 3, to third and first-person action approach of 4 and 5 has moved the gameplay into a genre comparable to most modern first-person shooters. As such, old mechanics of Resident Evil are becoming lost.
Less survival horror, more just-keep-trying horror. That’s not Resident Evil’s fault, not entirely. It’s the fault of gaming; it’s getting easier. There are more save points, health packs, shield regeneration, upgrades and games are built to be played not failed. Why not? They cost enough; you should enjoy the whole thing.
Resident Evil Revelations feels like it’s lost its heritage thanks to this evolution in gaming. It’s a real shame. Us toughened Resident Evil fans, the ones who would leave their Playstations on for days, we know what a difficult puzzle is, what fetch-quests are, we know what ammo conservation is. We don’t need molly-coddling. Even on a portable console.
Revelations is Resident Evil light. Another old device now gone from the game is the typewriter saving points. There are no item storage boxes, just gun boxes, or red herbs either. Revelations is a stripped down, portable adaptation of Resident Evil and, for the most part, it’s a very pleasant experience.
The controls are all very straightforward and traditional. The addition of the Circle Pad Pro, a bulky mistake-correcting add-on that simultaneously makes the 3DS uglier and easier to play, improves Resident Evil Revelations remarkably. It brings the game bang up to par with its console brethren, making it’s portable console construction feel like a massive pity.
As ever, there are weapon bonuses to unlock for the main campaign (after you finish the actual campaign and do a bunch of the missions in raid mode – a series of clock-racing zombie clean up missions). Despite this, true fans of the Resident Evil series will digest Revelations in a day or so, leaving themselves gagging for Resident Evil 6 later this year.
Resident Evil Revelations is highly playable, exciting and, in a lot of brilliant ways, unadulterated Resident Evil. It’s not as scary as some of its forbearers and its puzzles are about as challenging as a sleeping cat.
Revelations is comparable to the more recent console releases than the first few Resident Evil games. Despite it not being as good as those early titles it’s still bloody close and that’s good enough for me.