The Resident Evil series appears to have been the victim of its own devices as of late, infected from the inside, mutating this previously highly regarded series into the slowly dying beast it is now. What with Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6 so in the forefront of many minds, it will be hard to win back fans; so how about doing a CAPCOM and go back, revisiting the previously exclusive Nintendo 3DS title Resident Evil Revelations and giving it a high definition makeover for the home computers and consoles.
Set between Resident Evil 4 and 5, the story is classic Resident Evil, with a new virus, the T-Abyss being used to threaten the world by a group of terrorists called Il Veltro. The plot allows us to revisit favourite characters, starting with putting us behind the crosshairs of Jill Valentine, venturing along with her new partner Parker on the derelict HMS Queen Zenobia, where this new threat is believed to be hidden. The story has been set up as an episodic affair, presented with a TV like "previously" at the start of each chapter, allowing the story to skip forward and backward in time, with the main bulk of the tale being set on the drifting ship and then cutting to other characters like Parkers escape from the ill-fated floating city of Terragrigia or Chris Redfield investigating a plane crash on a frozen tundra.
Just like the more recent games there are a few different gameplay elements used to try and keep the game fresh. The HMS Queen Zenobia setting allows for classic Resident Evil survival horror, with confined corridors leading to many a door, never knowing what lurks behind, praying it is an ammo pack rather than another oozing monstrosity. These areas are full of the familiar suspense experienced on the older games from the series, making sure every shot counts and even just legging it away from harm's way when it gets too much for you. Even the familiar puzzle system returns, requiring an assortment of keys and emblems to unlock doors and weapons. As mentioned, there are a few flashback scenes to play through and these tend to be more akin to the run and gun action seen in Resident Evil 6, throwing loads of monsters at you and granting you with more powerful weapons like automatic machine guns and shotguns, these get boring and frustrating quite quickly but thankfully they do not last too long.
Whilst a lot of the basic Resident Evil ingredients are all in place, the integration is very different, with herbs instantly becoming usable with the press of the face button and the game using the more modern over the shoulder aim and move. New to the series is the Genesis scanner, granted on certain episodes, this gadget allows you to scan each room, unearthing vital supplies that were otherwise hidden and even scanning enemies, earning bonuses when you reach 100%, which becomes a vital tool if attempting the new Infernal Mode, upping the difficulty and changing the item locations and remixing the enemies.
The decision to keep the solo and co-op elements entirely separate really works (even though for most of it you have an AI partner), giving the single player mode the much needed suspense with only a smattering of heavy gun action whilst leaving the more gung-ho approach to the co-op Raid missions. Essentially a series of short dungeon raids, two players are able to run the gauntlet, taking on an assortment of monsters that have been radically altered from the main campaign, adding ranks, behaviour alterations and even stronger skin to resist your bullets. As you progress through these short levels you gradually earn experience points with kills and whatever else you can scavenge, which in turn unlocks even more weapons, vital ammo and upgrades to improve your arsenal, extending the lifespan of the game greatly.
Graphically the game has really had a number done on it, with some splendid visuals that manage to add even more tension to the game, though some of the monsters do look a little bland with some very gittery animation. I am a little sad that the series has moved so far away from the zombie monsters, with the new enemies being a mixed offering, with fast moving killer wolves or Hunters that look like overgrown gremlins through to the almost generic feeling oozing monsters that reside on the ship.
Resident Evil Revelations manages to wash away all of the unsavoury experiences of the past few games and sets the series back on track and most importantly, it's scary again.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
(Version Tested: PS3)
+ 3DS graphics have been beefed up significantly to HD
+ Classic survival horror
+ The more action orientated areas are seconded to the Raid mode
+ Additional hard 'Infernal' mode.
- Monsters are a little uninspiring.