There are plenty of games that get a handheld version of their console brethren, but I can’t think of a time where it has gone the other direction until now. Resident Evil Revelations came out on the Nintendo 3DS in early 2012, and a little over a year later we have a chance to check it out on the PlayStation 3, the Wii U, and the PC (it’s also out on Xbox 360). We’ve seen portable versions of larger console titles be successful, but could it work in reverse?
Resident Evil Revelations falls in between Resident Evil 4 and 5 in the overall story arc, placing you in the strangest opening location of any of the games prior – a cruise ship called the Queen Zenobia. Starting your adventure as Jill Valentine and transitioning through several of your favorite characters from the series brings us back to the survival horror world of biotoxins, vile monsters, and horrible creatures. Terrible and hokey voicework, eye-rollingly bad storylines, and clunky controls also return, but hey…it’s Resident Evil, so it’s expected.
“Where are you?” “I don’t know….a room I think”
Playing as Jill, Chris, Jessica, O’Brien, and other characters from the series breaks the mold of the previous titles. It allows you to capitalize on the various strengths of each of them, as well as showing their different perspectives on the story as it unfolds. Sure, the story is still comically ridiculous, but if you’ve played previous Resident Evil titles you’ll feel right at home.
For the handheld and the console versions of the game, much of the gameplay revolves around the Genesis – a scanning device that allows you to find hidden items, scan for handprints, and various consumables in the area. On the 3DS it made sense as putting small objects in the environment would be difficult to see on the screen. This scanning mechanic persists in the console version, but for some reason you still can’t see the objects you are picking up. When I scan I see that I found an object on an otherwise empty desk, but looking on the desk there is nothing there but a blue light. Is it ammunition? Is it a box of corn flakes? Is it a basket of cobras? Who knows until I stuff it into my inventory! Given how often this mechanic is used, it’s a constant reminder that this was once a handheld game.
There is one feature that I was very happy to see make it in the port from the 3DS – “Previously on Resident Evil Revelations”. After each chapter you’ll get a quick recap that brings you up to speed on the major plot points for the previous level. The game clocks in at about 10 or so hours over 12 chapters, so depending on how fast you play through the game, or how often you replay your favorite chapters for a better score, this can be pretty handy. If you are playing it straight through, these recaps are also skippable.
“Me and my sweet ass are on the way!” – Jessica
Another item that was a great feature for the handheld version was the fantastic music. Far better than a handheld usually delivers, the soundtrack was pretty solid. The team at Capcom have cleaned up this musical score as well as the comically-awful voice work. It’s still awful (including all of the direct quotes in this review), it just sounds a lot better. On the other hand, search points in the game are still text-only and the guns all sound like airsoft weapons, but overall it’s certainly improved.
Speaking of Jessica’s sweet ass, the AI in Resident Evil Revelations is as weak as the dialogue. You’ll often be flanked by a second person in the game, and often you’ll forget that as you won’t be getting any help. They’ll fire one bullet, take a 5-7 second break, maybe run around a bit, and then fire another shot. It’s hard to rely on them in any way as they also seem to take at least double the amounts of shots to get the same job done.
The Wii U Connection – by David Roberts
Capcom is releasing Resident Evil on pretty much every platform under the sun, and I got a chance to give the Wii U version of the game for a spin. Graphically, it looks to be about on par with the PS3 version of the game. Frame rate is rock solid, textures and environments look fine (if noticeably uprezzed from its 3DS source material), and the shadows and lighting are improved over its handheld predecessor. Technically speaking, it’s basically the same as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.
There are a few other Wii U specific features that might make this worth getting over the other console versions, however. While the Wii U doesn’t have a system-wide “Achievement” tracker, Revelations will still track them in-game, offering the same unlocks you’d get for specific feats, and letting you know when you’ve completed them. Revelations also takes advantage of the Miiverse by letting you post “Death Messages” whenever you bite it mid-level, and these messages will appear on other players’ screens when they die. You can also write “Creature Messages” that will appear in other players’ Raid mode sessions, effectively showing these monsters’ inner thoughts. None of it’s really necessary, but it’s a goofy addition that’s worth messing with at least once.
What’s really worth the Wii U plunge are the Gamepad-specific features. You can play Revelations with the Pro Controller for a conventional experience, but the touch screen adds a few nifty features. You’ll get a map (making on-the-fly navigation that much easier), as well as the ability to hot swap between weapons with a tap of the screen. The “hacking” minigames that appear sporadically throughout the game are also done on the touch screen, making them a little less painful to get through. You even have the option to play the game entirely on the Gamepad, making game time easier when you have other people who want to watch TV.
Technically, the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii U versions are virtually identical, so this choice ultimately lies with what options each console offers over the others. Unless you’ve got a ton of friends dying to play multiplayer with you on other platforms, or you absolutely need the Pavlovian response to Achievement points, the additional features that the Wii U offers over the other console versions makes this the one to get.
There are some improvements in the Raid Mode for Resident Evil Revelations. As before you can play through these modes solo or online. This mode essentially gives you a far faster run at the levels in the game with new weapons and characters. There is no scanning or scrounging for ammunition – just cutting down progressively tougher foes. There are a total of 12 characters and 20 stages, all unlocked with progress in the single-player experience and via levelling up in Raid Mode. The objectives are simple – safely reach the location listed in the level description in the shortest amount of time. Some areas are gated and you’ll need to cut down all of the foes in the area to obtain a key to move forward, but ultimately when you reach the end you’ll spot a giant BSAA medal you can nab to end the level.
Unlike the single-player experience, this cooperative (or solo) mode shows levels, powers, and health values for your enemies. Additionally, you may encounter different foes than you did when you ran through it in the campaign mode. This keeps you on your toes, even if the level is familiar. It serves two purposes that are rather handy – when you shoot an enemy in a critical hit spot you’ll see that reflected with damage numbers of a different color. Additionally you can see what sort of special powers that enemy might have – increased attack, defense, or speed. It adds a bit of an RPG-lite element to the survival shooter.
Completing the level grades you based on your accuracy, enemies killed, damage, and clear time. This awards you with BP (we’ve taken to calling them “Brownie Points”) based on how well you scored. Additional points can be awarded if you are under the recommended level, if you had a perfect run and never missed, if you killed all of the enemies, if you found the hidden bonuses, or if you make it through without taking any damage. If you played the 3DS version all of this will seem familiar, but there are new weapons, a new character (HUNK – the special forces of the Umbrella Corporation), and new skills. The skills are doled out on a per-character basis such as reload speed, melee attack damage, grenade blast range, and more. They are specific to that character, so you’ll have a reason to level up several of them.
The PC Connection – by Ron Burke
I was surprised to see Resident Evil Revelations on the consoles, but downright shocked to see it hit the PC. A 100% faithful port of the console port, the PC contains all of the features from the PS3 version of the game, but adds mouse and keyboard shooting along with support for a standard Xbox 360 controller. Textures on the PC version (as well as support for FSAA and high resolutions) are visibly better, as you can see in the video below. When you combine that with the far-faster loading times on the PC (reduced from around 7 seconds to closer to 3 for levels) it makes for a better experience overall. Add in that the jarring break between cutscenes and gameplay is less than half a second, nearly eliminating it, and the immersion factor is vastly improved. Of note, Rerev.exe crashes every time you exit it, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the game so far. I just have to wonder why the same textures and optimization didn’t make it to the console brethren.
“That’s the Queen Dido, the third queen.”
I’m rather surprised to see Resident Evil Revelations appear on consoles and PC. The 3DS version was one of the best games released on that platform, on that platform so far,, so it’s easy to see why Capcom wanted to share that with the larger market. Every feature of the 3DS version is here, and there is no doubt that this is a solid game as a result. Does it push the graphical prowess of the PS3? Not even close. Does it have a coherent story? No, but it’s better than most of the Resident Evil stories in the franchise. There are certainly some shortcomings (loading times, voice work / story) but it is still a worthy addition to the Resident Evil franchise. Check out the demo and see for yourself, and make sure you check out our sidebars to see how it turned out on the PC and the Wii U.