I have always had a love hate relationship with the Resident Evil series. I loved Resident Evil 4 on GameCube and played countless hours of Mercenaries going toe to toe with my mates to see who had ice water running through their veins and nerves of steel to smash these unholy terrors and the competition and reign supreme on the couch.
Yet I hate the rooted-to-the-ground antiquated control scheme that forbids aiming and moving at the same time. I can do it in real life, so it shouldn’t be such a stretch of the imagination to transfer it across to a franchise with countless sequels across numerous platforms. I get that it’s to heighten the tension but it is a relic from a bygone era and it needs to disappear forever.
Moving to more recent incarnations, namely Resident Evil 5, where the focus lay on co-operative play and became more action oriented I was forever scarred by an early playtest featuring an ‘unco-operative’ session with Joaby who hoarded every bullet, herb and weapon to himself and then astoundingly bitched about the “lack of support” asking why I didn’t “have his back” when I had a mere pistol, three bullets and newly soiled underwear to keep the hordes at bay...
Where the hell am I going with all this? I’m trying to paint a picture of where I stood with the series and why Resident Evil Revelations is easily one of its best iterations meshing the puzzle-tastic glory days with the newly found focus on exciting gunplay AND takes a leap forward for handheld consoles.
Rather than focus on a single protagonist, Resident Evil Revelations takes you on a journey through the eyes of many of the BSAA’s elite giving you a cavalcade of weapons and characters to get yourself acquainted with. Try to think of it as Res Evil Lite with everything streamlined down for maximum accessibility focusing on the pros of the diminutive 3DS platform while still holding on to the unique infected flavour.
The story is told via episodic content and revolves around BSAA founders Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as the former duo search for each other through various locales. For the most part the action centres on a derelict ship - the Queen Zenobia - which may seem like an odd choice but the darkened corridors, claustrophobic nature, and ample pathways make the perfect setting for a creepy, kooky ride.
You’ll also play as both Redfield and Valentine’s partners, as well as a couple of terribly unfunny Rosencrantz and Guildenstern type dudes, but the less said about those guys the better. Each new character brings with them a new weapon to familiarise yourself - mixing it up from close quarters shotgun magnificence to mid-range machine guns to longer range sniping - with your trusty pistol as a back up and a knife as a last resort. There are even turret sections that really mix up the gunplay and provide exhilarating moments of bullet indulgence compared to the tense shot to shot moments.
The inventory system has been streamlined and abandons the classic “slot” system for one much more accessible - cleverly mapped to buttons. It works surprisingly well on the fly making Resident Evil Revelations very user friendly to those yet to taste the franchise. And while I’m on the subject of things working surprisingly well, I have to make mention of the new peripheral for the 3DS, the Circle Pad Pro.
This sweet little bit of kit slots in your 3DS and viola! Now you have a second thumbstick and double-tap of bumpers to play with. It has a moulded frame as well which fits much more comfortably in your hand, ideal for prolonged play sessions. It’s a perfect fit for shooters and eliminates the crampy ‘arthritis hands’ syndrome we all fall prey to after a few hours on a handheld. I can’t recommend it enough, but time to cut the infomercials and on with the show…
One of the biggest steps forward for the franchise through RE Revelations (and I’m trying not to piss myself at this amazing leap in gameplay) is that you can walk and shoot AT THE SAME TIME. Try to step back and take a moment to digest the ramifications. Walk AND shoot!!!!! Ahem. Sorry to labour the point, but it has been my major gripe with the series and I’m pleased as punch that this “new” convention has finally been shown the light of day.
In the looks department RE Revelations has to be the damn near sexiest title I’ve seen on the 3DS with some brilliant lighting effects and superb looking cut scenes. The atmosphere is downright spooky with sound playing a major part in the experience as you frantically try to work out what direction that bump in the night came from before it tries to make you its *****. For maximum terror whack on some headphones, turn the lights off and scare the bejesus out of yourself.
Enemies range from mutated wolves which attack in packs to the classic and rather quick moving Hunters that leap scared gamers in a single bound. These seem tame compared to the newest member of the family, the Ooze, who come in many different shapes and sizes. To combat these viral forces and conserve your ammunition you’ll become quite familiar with dodging. A well timed button press during a lunge gives you a moment’s respite, saves your health, makes these monsters look stupid and afford you the opportunity to pull out your knife and introduce them to Mr Pointy.
Another new feature is the Genesis scanner. Each infected SOB can be scanned and after correctly catalogued by the device yields a bonus of an extra green herb or first aid spray, a vital little reward, and that’s just the beginning. With ammunition stores scant you can use it to uncover hidden caches to keep your clips full at all times as well as highlight hidden items to help keep your health up or find upgrades to increase your weapon’s killingness.
Once the main campaign is done and dusted you have access to a co-op mode so you can tag team it all over again with a buddy over Wi-Fi - though I highly recommend you don’t do it with Joaby unless you’re a masochist. You’ve been warned.
Resident Evil Revelations was a genuine eye-opener and one hell of a thrill-ride. It handles like a dream, looks magnificent, has a completely immersive score, clever sound design and unique gameplay mechanics taking the series leaps and bounds forward. Do yourself a favour and check this bad boy out.