The 3DS is no graphical slouch. Aside from the glasses-free 3D feature, the system can kick out some impressive scenery, and it did so with last year's Resident Evil Revelations, a well-made little horror shooter in a series that's been looking for a lifeboat lately. After launching Resident Evil 6 fewer than six months ago, Capcom seems to think HD platforms need even more Resident Evil love, and so this week Revelations hits Xbox 360, PS3, Windows PCs, and the Wii U.
Playing it in enhanced form on an HD console, however, feels just a little goofy. The textures do look excellent, but the game's models are clearly made for a more lightweight graphics engine, which means you get characters with hair frozen in place and enemies with just a few animations to use over and over again. Revelations was made for a handheld machine, and its designers cut corners that the other platforms would have let them curve around more gracefully.
But Revelations' saving grace is that it's a Resident Evil game, and it's a good Resident Evil game at that. For that reason, fans of the series who missed out the first time around will probably appreciate the chance to see it for themselves.%Gallery-188861%
All of the good qualities of the 3DS version of Revelations are still here. The story is its best feature: The tale is smartly told in a series of short episodes, each with their own "Previously on Resident Evil Revelations" segment, and the script juggles multiple viewpoints and playable characters with ease. On top of that, a few segments in the game manage to kick out some scares, which is a refreshing return to core for a series that has become increasingly bent on action.
It's notable that Revelations manages to do so much with its story in spite of its dialogue, which is horrendous. "Sorry, I don't date cannibal monsters," coos the saucy Jessica Sherawat during one battle, just one nutty line in a script full of them. The titular revelations are underplayed by the dialogue as well – the game's main twist is a tangle of acronyms and mythological references, and it isn't always clear who's getting revelationed at any given time. Despite all of that, it's fun watching what happens to Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and all of their other sidekicks and partners from episode to episode.
You won't need to pay a premium to play this version of Revelations with a second analog stick, and while there are a few less-than-ideal moments (dodging is imprecise and hard to pull off), the shooting does feel solid and straightforward. Unfortunately, even the one new enemy added to the mix doesn't add significant variety in the combat. Most enemies slowly trudge toward you as you aim for their weak spots as best you can. That might hew a bit closer to Resident Evil tradition than other recent games, but that doesn't make it exciting.
Various weapon types and upgrades add some complexity, allowing you to create dazing pistols or damage-boosted shotguns, but the game's idea of mixing things up just means sending out more than one type of enemy at a time. Boss fights and a few on-rails sections attempt to add some new wrinkles, but your best strategy is almost always "shoot the weak spot until you run out of ammo or die."
Revelations' level design causes much more frustration than the combat, however. Backtracking is a necessity, and you end up seeing the same environments over and over again in different ways. This wouldn't be as much of a problem if each section of the game's haunted cruise ship was more distinct. There are a few landmarks – a fun casino room and a creepy solarium) – but it's hard to remember just which dimly lit hallway you're supposed to be trotting down when they all look so similar.
The HD version of Revelations also offers up a revamped Raid Mode, which is an arcade variant of the standard levels. You race through a series of tricked-out enemies (some are faster, stronger, or smaller than the usual baddies) to earn medals, points, and crazy costumes, and then you can use those to progress your own character. You can also play Raid with a friend locally or online. It's a nice way of making the game more replayable, but it uses the same levels and mechanics as the main game, so if you don't like those Raid won't convince you otherwise.
Capcom has put together a successful port here, in that if you wanted to play the 3DS game but didn't get a chance to do so, this is the best way to get that done. Resident Evil fans will want to see the story, and will forgive the design flaws and wacky dialogue. For everyone else, the game doesn't hold the HD spotlight well. This was a quality handheld title, but on a larger screen it falls into the middle of the pack.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Resident Evil: Revelations, provided by Capcom. Resident Evil: Revelations is also available on PS3, PC and Wii U.
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