FEATURE: "Resident Evil: Revelations HD" Review

RE's big return to traditional-feeling survival-horror makes the jump to consoles

It's not often that I get to review the same game twice over--or that I feel I need to. However, since Resident Evil: Revelations was one of the best 3DS exclusives of 2012 and a great return to form for Resident Evil as a whole, I thought its recent console re-release deserved another look.


First things first: this is not Resident Evil 6. It's not a disjointed mess of an action game that happens to have monsters, with clunky gunfights and big, spectacular setpieces. Revelations is a callback to the early days of Resident Evil--the days of creeping down claustrophobic hallways, regularly checking your ammo count, and praying nothing big was around the next corner. For Resident Evil fans who missed out on the original 3DS release, the HD port of RE: Revelations is available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Wii U.




The most noticeable change from the 3DS version would be the visuals--RE: Rev has cleaned up nicely, with detailed character models and environments. However, the facial animations are a little stiff, and overall the visuals naturally aren't as nice as other games made specifically for console or PC release. While the Circle Pad Pro was a generally-useless early add-on for the 3DS (and Revelations controlled just fine without it), the console version of Revelations lets you freely switch between now-standard twin-stick controls and older-style controls more reminiscent of Resident Evil 4.




It's important to note that the twin-stick "shooter" controls aren't as spot-on as you'd expect. Sometimes, the camera will swing too far to one side when you're turning to aim, and will actually keep going for a bit after you've stopped moving the analog stick. I'm actually okay with this, as the now-standard "left stick moves, right stick looks" controls are second nature to me--it's much harder to pull off multiple pinpoint shots in this game, and Revelations rewards practice, dedication, and perfect aim. It also keeps the game more firmly on the "survival-horror" side of things, keeping the brief bursts of action hectic and stressful when you're constantly missing valuable shots.




Like I mentioned in the 3DS review, Revelations uses a very simple solution to keeping the tension up: make enemies stronger. Headshots aren't as effective, enemies require very specific hits to be staggered, stunned, or knocked down, truly damaging melee hits have to be charged up, and if you decide to draw a line in the sand and kill everything in a room, there's no guarantee that you'll find any more ammo in the next room, since enemies don't drop ammo or healing items.




Oh, sure, you can find herbs and first aid items scattered around the map, but you'll mostly be using your Genesis Scanner, a handy device that lets you scan enemies and points of interest. Once you fill your scan bar up to 100%, you're given a healing item and you start the process all over again. The Genesis Scanner is also handy for finding enemies who are hidden in waist-high water, hiding inside objects, or are invisible, but you're not able to use your gun while the Genesis Scanner is out. Like every good Resident Evil, Revelations is about making a choice (fight? run? scan?), and having to deal with the consequences of your choices.




The story is just as goofy-complicated as any other Resident Evil--Jill Valentine and her new partner Parker are investigating the Queen Zenobia, a derelict cruise ship, while thousands of miles away Chris Redfield and his new partner Jessica are investigating a stronghold that may or may not be linked to a recent, horrific bioterrorism attack. Along the way, there are betrayals, monsters hiding in closets, and shoutouts to previous RE adventures. Just like in the 3DS version, you'll be able to upgrade your weapons with custom parts, from increasing a weapon's damage or knockback to more interesting upgrades, such as one that exponentially increases a weapon's power the closer it is to an enemy. Revelations fans, can you tell "Infighter" is my favorite upgrade ever?




The real meat of Revelations is the single- and multiplayer Raid Mode, which challenges you to clear stages as quickly and efficiently as possible. It wasn't easy to begin with, but with all your weapons and upgrades from the campaign and a variety of characters both newly-unlockable (like Rachel, pictured above) and available as DLC, you'll never run out of options. The HD version of Raid Mode also includes new weapons, upgrades, and enemies that weren't in the 3DS version.




The review copy I got was for the Wii U, which has a few neat features that aren't in the other versions. If you keep dying at a particular spot or just feel like sharing parts of your adventure, you can leave messages for other players through MiiVerse, Dark Souls-style. On the other hand, if you just feel like messing with people, you can leave Creature Messages, which will show up as players aim at monsters. These don't change the game any, but they add a little bit of fun and community to a title that would otherwise be a straightforward port. The Wii U version also allows you to clear up your screen, handling all item and weapon management on the GamePad along with your map. Off-TV play is also included, but I feel using the TV and GamePad together worked the best for me.




Basically, all the good things in the handheld version are in the console/PC upgrade, with some nice extra content added on. Revelations has a great single-player mode that keeps the classic Resident Evil atmosphere and feel of "helplessness," with lots of puzzle-solving and tense fight-or-flight situations where you'll have to keep track of sparse ammo and healing items. The solid-if-imperfect action-game controls and a varied, customizable arsenal keep the action going quickly when it happens, but it's spaced out enough to keep the game from turning into RE5 or RE6.




Strangely, this is one game I felt worked better on a handheld, as opposed to a console. Bite-sized chapters broken up into episodes and regular story recaps feel right for gaming on-the-go, but it feels unnecessary when you're sitting down at your TV to play for a long stretch. Raid Mode is similar, since now you're taking those bite-sized chapters and blazing through them as fast as possible. It's definitely not a bad thing as the game is still a total blast to play, but its pacing did feel a little off.




If you already own the 3DS version of Resident Evil: Revelations, hang on to it unless you're a huge fan of Raid Mode or absolutely have to have it for your console or PC. Everyone else who hasn't had the chance to try it, definitely give Revelations a shot. It's the best RE since Leon traipsed about in the Spanish countryside with monster magnet jailbait, and makes a great compromise between modern video game sensibilities and old-school atmosphere.



+ Great single-player mode brings back old-school Resident Evil style and atmosphere with new-school graphics and controls

+ Raid Mode is a fast, fierce solo and multiplayer affair with tons of unlockable content

+ Instead of just porting over the 3DS version, the console RE:R has new enemies, upgrades, and unlockables

+/- "Shooter" control mode gives you now-standard twin-stick controls, but it's slightly imprecise and takes practice

- In stills, characters and backgrounds look nice, but character animation is stiff and jarring

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