Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Resident Evil: Revelations

Developed by Capcom and Tose
Published by Capcom

            Before Resident Evil: Revelations, I considered horror on a portable system to be absurd.  The scariness comes from the atmosphere, and when the atmosphere is coming from a screen about the size of my hand, can it really be scary?  The rather surprising answer is that yes, it can, along with providing an exciting game in general.
            Taking place between 4 and 5, Revelations has Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield working for the BSAA, the same organization that appeared in 5.  A year after a city of the future is destroyed by the terrorist organization Veltro, Jill and newcomer Parker Luciani are looking for Chris and his partner Jessica on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea, only to find out that Veltro is involved.  And from there, things get…complicated.  On the one hand, it’s a story that propels the game forward.  It tells why every character is where they are, and there’s plenty of twists and turns along the way.  On the other hand, it’s just confusing.  The twists are silly, the whole plot is tangled up, and at the end of the day, I don’t know if it really “revealed” anything so much as just proved that any hold on plot that Resident Evil had has long gone away.
            What makes the game so good is its gameplay.  RE4 and 5 both went towards loading the player up on guns and letting them blast away.  Revelations manages to toe the line between action and its survival horror roots a little better.  In particular, your resources are fairly limited.  You can only have 3 guns and while there are sections where I felt good on ammo, other sections had me frantically searching every corner for anything.  The guns you have create a decision you have to make at the weapon crates, what you want and what you can actually use.   The ever-powerful rocket launcher or magnum taking up a precious weapon slot makes the decision to take them that much harder.  Each weapon also has several upgrade slots where you can put in higher damage or stun mods, if you can find them.  The game also removes any sort of pausing to mess with the inventory.  Instead of fumbling around to use herbs, you simply press a button on the 3DS and use them.  This manages to make sequences that much more frantic, as you quickly try to heal or reload while also being attacked by the game’s creatures.
            The real star of the show is the ship itself, the Queen Zenobia.  While the game switches between characters at several points, from Jill to Chris to the “comic relief” duo, it’s Jill’s adventure on the ship that’s the real focus, and it’s done extremely well.  Constantly finding locked doors gives you a feeling of place and a knowledge that you can come back.  And several swimming sequences up the tension as you go as fast as possible to the next source of air, sometimes having to dodge underwater monsters.  It also manages to have a good variety in environments, from casinos and cabins to the mechanical underbelly.  And the tight corridors make every open space a relief.  Here’s a tip: play this with headphones on.  And I mean real headphones, not just earbuds.  For me, the sense of being closed in was increased, along with the fact that the screen truly is right up where you’re playing.  It just increases the horror factor.
            This game uses the CirclePad Pro accessory for the 3DS, which I used to play the game.  As an advanced control scheme, it works very well.  It adds another CirclePad on the right side, along with an extra R and L button which this game uses for aiming and shooting.  It was basically like a full controller to play the game.  Having the batteries already in mine (I bought it used, apparently new ones require you to insert them), it was as simple as putting the 3DS into it and I was ready to go.  Unfortunately, it does have some downsides.  One is that it’s bulky.  I can’t see anybody carrying the system around with this thing attached to it.  It also blocks off the stylus.  Considering that some sequences in Revelations require the stylus, this means taking the CirclePad Pro off, taking the stylus out, putting the Pro back on, going to Options, activating it again, and then getting back to the game.  It’s just annoying to do in the middle of playing something.
             Besides the campaign, Revelations also includes Raid Mode, which has you going through the levels with a heavier emphasis on blasting enemies away.  It can be played single player, or co-op local and online.  I played some of it online, and when I had someone good at the game, it was just fun.  It’s cool to just run through shooting at enemies.  It also has some more of the customization from the main game, with plenty of weapons, even more weapon mods, and characters who have different weapon strengths.  You can even use points you get through playing it, along with the Play Coins that the 3DS stores, to buy weapons.  While the campaign is more of a dedicated experience, this is the pick up and play mode.
            Revelations is a surprisingly solid experience.  Plenty of scares and action, a good amount of replayability thanks to Raid Mode, and just full game quality all around.  This isn’t just a handheld system cash-in, this is a full game that RE fans will enjoy, possibly even more than 5. 

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