Back to basics
Once upon a time there existed a game franchise that wanted nothing more than to frighten the pants off of the gamers who played it. Scares came from claustrophobic rooms and hallways that limited movement, a fixed camera that let the gameís undead baddies occasionally pop out of nowhere, and a sense of tension created by the playerís relative fragility. Fast forward to today and this franchise, Resident Evil, is almost unrecognizable from the horror titles that spawned it. While certainly entertaining games in their own right, more recent titles in the series have alienated many fans of its survival-horror roots by trading a slow deliberate pace for rolling and gunning from cover, less frequent but more powerful enemies for hoards of weaker beasts, and vulnerable protagonists for roided-out super soldiers. Throughout the years it seemed as though Capcom lost track of what made Resident Evil great among its rapidly increasing budgets and development teams. Then came a little gem called Resident Evil: Revelations, released on the Nintendo 3DS, which breathed fresh air back into the franchise. The game shrunk its scope, simplified its gameplay, and moved the tone back from action to soil-yourself-scary. Critics and players welcomed the game with open arms, leading Capcom to now release an HD version of the game for consoles and PCs. Having played through the game, I have no qualms about saying that this isnít only one of the best Resident Evil games to date, but itís one of the best times Iíve had with any survival horror title in some time.
Taking place between Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations deals chiefly with series veterans Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, both paired with new partners. Keeping with franchise tradition, the plot is rather ludicrous and over the top and doesnít always make perfect sense. There is a creepy gas-mask loving terrorist organization called Veltro, a mysteriously bloodied abandoned cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean, an Arctic militaristic base, and Terragrigia, a destroyed utopian city on the ocean. What it all boils down to is spending a lot of time aboard the Queen Zenobia, the aforementioned abandoned ship, which is a great place for the game to take place. Various parts of the ship provide a nice mix of locales ranging from tight grey hallways to more decorative and partially open areas. Throughout the game the environment maintains its own sense of identity, almost becoming a character in and of itself. While I got turned around a few times (particularly when backtracking is required), the combination of the on-screen mini-map and full 3D map in the menu always served well enough to get me back on track. Another cool quirk of the ship is that its motion actually affects aiming. Crosshairs bounce a bit with the ups and downs of the Zenobia, which creates enough interference to up the tension without ever becoming prominent enough to seem unfair or annoying. Unfortunately I didnít enjoy the parts of the game that take place in other locations. As if Capcom was hesitant to completely dedicate itself to a survival horror title, these segments often consist of pumping bullets and shotgun shells like an action hero which works against the tone established elsewhere.
Better on the PC
As competent as the controls and interface were on the gameís original 3DS release, everything is even better on big screens. I did encounter a semi-frequent glitch where my character would appear to have seizures while strafing, but for the most part everything is smooth. I found myself at times wishing there was a limited-use sprint button, but walking, turning, strafing, and aiming all strike a great balance between making the player feel competent and in control, and keeping them tied down enough to keep everything nice and creepy. In most situations, combat heavily favors taking a few precise shots over bullet-spraying, which is supported by tight responsive gun controls.
A welcome return to survival-horror. A great setting. Sleek controls and interface.
Action-heavy segments feel out of place. Co-op underwhelms. Occasionally terrible textures.