Evil Takes Up Residency on 3DS
I've been following Revelations closely like many of you – drooled over the screen shots, got hot and bothered by the demo included with Mercs 3D, and the second demo sealed the deal. This was obviously going to be the complete package, and the production values have an instant "wow" factor.
There is one thing, however, that, early on in the adventure, kinda stumped me. The Genesis scanner, which I envisioned adding another layer of gameplay depth on par with the Metroid Prime series, wasn't quite as fleshed out as I'd hoped it would be.
Instead of using the scanner to find out info on enemies – weaknesses perhaps – you're just scanning them to earn herbs/missions or scanning environments for hidden items. In a sense, it works a bit like the Riddler mini-game in Batman Arkham Asylum, and to that end, it's enjoyable. Though the design choice the developers opted for wasn't a game-breaker, I was concerned that perhaps the entire adventure was going to be watered down.
Luckily, that isn't the case here. The pacing of both the story and gameplay are tight and polished. Revelations isn't nearly as scary as the early Resident Evil games, but it's certainly more entertaining than what we've seen in the recent past.
What the game lacks in horror it makes up for in atmosphere. Revelations also introduces some pretty strong characters, one of whom you'll likely fall in love with before the end. The game's divided into episodes, which works great for 3DS, and each episode feels uniquely challenging.
At some point early on in the story there were some exchanges of dialogue that were pretty off-putting. I simply chocked that up to typical RE silliness. The actress who portrays the character Jessica delivers at least a few lines conspicuously bad. However, by the end, things that seemed a bit cheesy shine in a different light. The story is surprisingly nuanced and wound down a path I wasn't quite expecting. Pro tip: stick around after the end credits.
I took on the Normal mode for my first time through, and for the most part, Revelations was a very challenging game. There were quite a few segments that required multiple stabs, and often I would end an episode out of ammo, out of herbs, and seeing black and white. Oddly, though, the end of the game feels less harrowing, though the finale will absolutely give you a run for your money.
As a quick aside, I'd like to tally where I feel the game fell a bit short. As mentioned, I was a tad disappointed by the Genesis scanner, and there was also a fair bit of backtracking. I think most folks – myself included – were unhappy with the way Capcom tried to hide loads. When riding elevators or waiting for certain deck doors to open, the framerate suddenly dies. Of course, it's no big deal, since the game is actually loading during these moments, but it kind of kills the mood. It's also a shame there aren't any bona fide puzzles or riddles to solve.
Now, with all that being said, the game Capcom did opt to create is a fantastic adventure. Like RE4, Revelations might not be the Resident Evil game every fan was hoping for, but it's inarguably an excellent ride. There's tons of content to unlock and earn, either through Raid Mode or in the campaign, and the online co-op works quite smoothly. Raid Mode stages and equipment are doled out at a steady pace – there's always some incentive to keep you coming back for more.
The online isn't perfect, though. Occasionally, it's difficult to find rooms, and depending on your connection to the person you're matched with, you can experience quite a bit of lag. Most of my sessions have been enjoyable, but that's also dependent upon the community itself. There are a few trolls who will sit back and let you do all the work, and one stage in particular is inherently flawed.
There are a total of 20 Raid Mode stages, with one bonus stage called Ghost Ship. Ghost Ship is already somewhat infamous amongst the community, as it's generally used to farm missions. Each time you play co-op online, you receive a mission that can earn you some pretty fat loot. Unfortunately, Ghost Ship is designed in such a way as to allow players to end the stage early in order to farm these missions. In theory it's kind of a neat side effect, but folks who actually want to play through the stage – which can clock in at over 30 minutes a run – often end up getting the shaft. If you do ever manage to find someone to play through it with, Ghost Ship is an awesome, challenging gauntlet that could almost count as its own mode.
In spite of my complaints, Raid Mode is still a tremendous boon for RE fans. I won't say it's better than Mercs, but it definitely offers something more substantial to sink your teeth into. As you level up through play, you gain access to better weapons, perks, and other gear. There are also three difficulty settings, each unlocked consecutively. Unfortunately, there's no chat feature – which really, for an M-rated game, chat should be included as a basic function of online play. There are also occasions when doors that are supposed to open won't, likely due to extreme lag between players. In these instances, all you can do is quit out of the stage.
I have to give a special shoutout to the game's water levels. Not everyone is a fan of swimming gameplay in action-adventure games, but personally, I really enjoyed them here, and I've had lots of fun replaying them in Raid Mode. Though you're not working through puzzles or anything, the control of the characters in Revelations reminded me of Ninja Gaiden (Xbox). It takes a little getting used to at first, but there's a lot of cool stuff going on in the game's underwater sequences.
I won't bother commenting too much on the visuals, as they're obviously top of the heap. What you've seen in screenshots is pretty much what you get. The 3D effect is expertly executed, but to be honest, I turned it off by the second episode. I have a hard time keeping my system still, and I really just want to relax when I play the game.
The sound design is equally stellar, with some of the best soundtrack music I've heard in a good, long while. The main theme will quickly stick in your head, and the clarity is pristine – this is a game you'll want to experience with earbuds/headphones.
Resident Evil: Revelations has some design elements that aren't necessarily my cup of tea, but the package as a whole is amazing, nonetheless. I've been having such a great time with the game, both in campaign and playing Raid Mode. The story will keep you rapt from start to finish, and once you've completed the adventure, don't be surprised if all you want to do is start right back up again. There's a boatload of missions available to take on – a to-do list, if you will, to unlock an almost never-ending supply of goodies. Though the early 3DS line-up was kinda paltry (Mercs 3D included), Revelation is the real deal – the full Monty.