Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) Review

Happy Leap Day, everyone. How did you spend your extra day of the year? Apparently I was mistaken when I thought I would not have the time to write the same amount of reviews as last month, but here we are with review #9 anyway. Resident Evil: Revelations is one of the 3DS system's biggest exclusives. Now knowing Capcom it won't be exclusive for long, but that notwithstanding, 3DS owners can still enjoy the game. Will you wet yourselves with delight as you play this survival-horror title?

Player Beware, You're in for a Scare.

Over the summer of 2011 the Nintendo 3DS was home to Resident Evil's first outing on the system in the form of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. The game was an arcade-styled romp that pushed the system's hardware impressively in the early life of the platform. One could consider The Mercenaries 3D the appetizer when compared to Capcom's main course, Resident Evil: Revelations. If you thought your mouth watered with Mercenaries, prepare yourself a bib and a bucket for your drool as Revelations is truly the third-party killer app that will scare your pants off.

A luxury cruise liner has been set off course and is adrift in the middle of the Mediterranean, the Queen Zenobia. Raccoon City survivor Jill Valentine and her new partner Parker rappel onto the mysterious ship in search of Jill's missing and longtime partner Chris Redfield. However, little do the BSAA (Jill's, Chris', and Parker's association) know that something evil and sinister is afoot. Albino monstrosities ravage the ship, calling it their home, spawned by a new and more powerful virus, the T-Abyss. Not only must Jill and Parker discover the location of their departed comrade, but they must also make sure to stop a bio-terrorist from unleashing the into the world. The game is divided up between twelve episodes or chapters that tell the tale. You are constantly shifting between groups of characters as the narrative escalates to intense proportions. You will want to keep playing just to find out what happens next, so I imagine this setup works wonderfully as I did just that. As you begin a new episode, a "Previously on Resident Evil: Revelations" video is displayed just in case you put down the game for an extended period of time and come back to it. A series of events from past episodes make up each video, and they are short, sweet, and to the point. One thing I do not like, however, is that there does not seem to be an option to pause cinematic scenes. Instead, if you press a button, you skip it entirely with no way to see it again unless you start a new data. This minor gripe aside, Capcom has weaved a masterful tale full of intrigue and mystique that will have you guessing and sweating it out from beginning to end.

Even BSAA agents need to show some cleavage.

As mentioned, Resident Evil: Revelations follows an episodic format. One part of an episode you'll be in the shoes of Jill Valentine as she investigates various parts of the Queen Zenobia while another part you will be placed in the role of Chris Redfield alongside his partner Jessica as they venture through an arctic mountainside in search of clues towards a bio-weapon outbreak. While typewriters and save rooms are a thing of past in Revelations, there are ample amounts of automatic save points as you progress in the game. After each episode you have the option of saving your data (no worries, too, as there is more than one save file to play with).

The pacing of Revelations is almost perfect as the episodes involving Jill and Parker revolve around journeying around the Queen Zenobia, backtracking through the lower cabins, upper cabins, bridge, bilge, casino, and other parts of the ship. There are plenty of scares in these segments as you control Jill, moving through the darkness with only a flashlight, sauntering through the numerous rooms of the ship with Oozes (the main infected of the game) crawling out of every place they can fit into such as bathroom stalls, air vents, laundry machines, ceilings, and out from under dining room tables. You will collect keys that unlock new areas to enter and explore. The segments as Jill and Parker really fell like a tremendous return to form for the series. Meanwhile, the portions outside of the Queen Zenobia have a much more action-centric approach to them. There is much more linearity here where you are fending off against wave after wave of B.O.W.s, from infected wolves to Hunters. Revelations really strikes a nearly perfect balance between the survival-horror of the original PlayStation Resident Evil games and the action gameplay that the more recent Resident Evil titles have witnessed.

While Jill and Parker segments are slower paced,
outside the ship is where the real action begins.

There are a plethora of scares to be had in Revelations, and I think they are better seen and heard rather than read. Fearing for your life as you have no choice but to shoot off the lock of a door that you know some huge crazed creature is behind (you HAVE to get his key to progress) is but one of the scary scenarios found in Revelations. Picking up a note in a pool of blood left by someone who clearly is turning into an infected only to be greeted by their mutated presence pushed up against the nearby window is yet another thrill to discover. Then there's the matter of chasing this character who wants you dead while hearing the beast yell "I've found you" repeatedly and "It hurts!" as it crawls out from air vents to attack. Revelations features some insanely twisted moments that will have your hands shaking (not good for the 3D effect, mind you) even if you know they're coming.

If you are a fan of Resident Evil games, then you know that they are full of perplexing puzzles to solve. Revelations is really no different. You will be using the touch screen to undo screws and rewire circuits to open doors (this is the most common puzzle in the game; it occurs multiple times), putting your finger on the screen for the game to "scan" it to unlock the way forward, and performing other puzzling feats to show off your mental mettle. The touch screen is also used to switch primary and secondary weapons as well as access the map.

The T-Abyss virus has transformed people into all sorts of ugly.

Also like the older, less recent Resident Evils, you need to be watchful and mindful of your ammunition. Ammo can be scarce at times, and you can wind up in a whole heck of a lot of trouble if you're facing a flurry of foes with little ammo to work with. Connecting shots and being accurate is key. Though wasted shots can occur because some enemy death animations can make it seem like a baddie is still alive when in fact they have succumbed to your strength. You can carry up to five healing herbs which restore your health no matter how severe your damage (the screen surrounding your character will grow redder and redder as you take the brunt of more and more attacks). Meanwhile, you can also only hold three guns at a time (handguns, machine guns, shotguns, magnums, etc.), and the ammo capacity of each gun can be increased through picking up special items or custom parts. Custom parts are hidden throughout the game and allow you to equip them to a slot of a weapon of your choosing. They can range from increasing firepower to increasing ammo capacity to enabling you to shoot twice with one pull of the trigger. You can exchange weapons and mix and match custom parts at various weapon boxes located at certain points of the ship.

New to Resident Evil and something that would be a cool addition to future installments is the Genesis. This item gives you the ability to scan the environment for secret goodies such as ammo, herbs, and custom parts. You are also able to scan enemies, too, and while nothing like Metroid Prime where you discover information on beating them, it is beneficial to do so regardless (more on that later). I found myself hooked on scanning every new room I came into for ammo and other things. It is almost necessary to have enough ammo on later difficulties (there are three in all).

An invaluable tool, the Genesis has arrived!
Capcom does what Nintendon't.

When I read that Resident Evil: Revelations was coming to the 3DS, I was concerned as to how the game would control having one stick and all. Thankfully there are multiple control setups to work with (three in all) as well as the option of switching to the Circle Pad Pro peripheral (available at GameStop and directly from Nintendo's online shop). Without the device I was able to play through the game quite easily with little trouble. The only part that bewildered my fingers was an on-rails section in the latter half of the game where the action was much faster than normal. I utilized Control Type C which uses the face buttons for camera control and aiming. You can choose like me to invert either the X or Y axes for better control as well, or opt to go into first person or stay in third person when aiming. The only problem I had with the game control-wise was with dodging. You need to thrust the Circle Pad forward when an enemy attacks to successfully evade it. The timing is so strict that this can be more challenging than it sounds. The final boss almost demands you be a pro at this.

Some foes cloak themselves,
so scanning them is a smart idea.

The entire campaign of Resident Evil: Revelations will last anywhere between 9-12 hours your first go around. But by then you haven't even played half of the game. As you progress through the story, you will unlock Raid Mode and its multiple stages. Raid Mode is an offshoot of Mercenaries Mode. You can play solo, locally with a friend, or hop online with anyone to complete the various goals the game sets up. Each of the 20+ stages with three difficulties is inspired by the solo game. You enter the same environments to accomplish pretty much the same objectives. Enemies have health gauges as well as levels a la RPGs. As you complete stages, you, too, gain experience and BP which can be used to buy new weapons. The fun of Raid Mode is that for every stage you finish, you automatically win a random weapon. Each weapon has different stats. One might hold more ammo while the same gun might hold less ammo but have a better firepower. There is nothing like getting an S rank on a mission and randomly receiving a rare weapon for your work. As you go through Raid Mode and gain levels, you can use higher leveled weapons and use new characters from the story like Jessica, Parker, and more. Then there are the Missions which are like achievements, but these actually give you something for completing them.

Four shots left. Better make them count.

Resident Evil: Revelations is without question the best looking 3DS game on the market yet. There is so much going on with the incredible lighting, sensational character models, great geometry, and breathtaking environments and particle effects. The only downside in the graphical department comes from the poor masking of load times. When you are on an elevator or moving from one major part of the ship to another, the game will chug slower than the Little Engine That Could on a very steep hill. The frame-rate plummets to the single digits. That said, these problems do not happen outside of these segments of the game. As for the sound, the music is marvelous with some magnificently poignant themes, some even performed by a choir. The voice acting is top shelf material as well except for a pair of goofs that come off as more of caricatures than actual people. You'll know who they are when you meet them.

The thrills and chills of Resident Evil: Revelations are unlike anything I have ever witnessed on a handheld. The game feels like a console title on a portable system, and that is no easy feat. Some control issues and bad hiding of loading times aside, Revelations is one of the best reasons to own a 3DS. The system started out slow at the gate, but it is steadily gaining one hell of a library with no signs of stopping. Capcom once again amazes and astounds with yet another awesome handheld effort. Forget the albino abominations of Revelations, the quality of this game is the thing that is scary. Scary good, that is. For optimum fright, turn off the lights, put on some headphones, and sit back and enjoy this tremendous title.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]

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