Resident Evil: Revelations Preview
Developer: Capcom / Publisher: Capcom / Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, WiiU / Release Date: May 21, 2013 / Price: $49.99 / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language]
The Revelation WILL be televised! Console and PC-playing fans of the Resident Evil franchise have something to celebrate – the highly lauded Resident Evil: Revelations (released in early 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS) is imminently making its way to monitors and widescreens the world over.
Revelations drops next week, but I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a preview build of the first few episodes a few weeks ago. I’ve been sitting on my thoughts in desperate anticipation of a more complete build, but here we are; one week out and it’s time to spill the guts on this eagerly-anticipated port of a modern fan favorite.
I feel it appropriate to point out how pleased I’ve been with the mutated evolution of the Resident Evil franchise to date. I loved Resident Evil 4, adored Resident Evil 5, and (despite popular opinion) reveled in the thrill ride of Resident Evil 6. From where I stand, the cornerstones of the franchise originally known as ‘Biohazard’ have remained firmly in place over the years. Resident Evil: Revelations aims to unite the estranged and once-loyal fanbase by catering to both die-hards and fair-weather fans with a fresh take on a tried-and-true formula.
Resident Evil: Revelations tells the story of what happened between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 – a bridge over troubled waters, if you will. As players unravel the mystery of what happened aboard the abandoned cruise ship ‘Queen Zenobia,’ they face a new wave of mutated horrors derived from the T-Abyss virus. But they won’t go it alone; BSAA specialists Parker Luciani and Jessica Sherawat offer their cooperative assistance as only Resident Evil NPCs can: with sexy, post-modern style and an outrageous batch of one-liners.
This computer-assisted co-op is a familiar recipe for modern Resident Evil fans. But Revelations seems to echo the more hands-off approach of NPCs in Resident Evil 4 (as opposed to the brutal brand of ‘babysitting’ evident in RE5). This should please those of you who long for a return to the stripped-down survival horror of old. But make no mistake – even on higher difficulties, ammo and other items necessary for survival are in ample supply. And although the bombast of Resident Evil 6 isn’t in full effect here, Revelations can certainly be seen as an old-school precursor to the subsequent new-school agenda of the last installment.
Resident Evil: Revelations has been graphically enhanced for consoles and PC to provide a full HD experience. This is most notable in the game’s various cinematics, which elevate the visuals of Revelations to new heights. Textures and pop-ins during regular gameplay can be less than ideal, however, and tend to remind you that you’re playing a port of a handheld after all. Lighting effects have been beautifully enhanced and the new sound mix is impeccable. Overall, the brooding nautical atmosphere of the ‘Queen Zenobia’ set piece is terrific. And the more exotic locales explored during cutaways and flashbacks help break up an otherwise monotonous expedition.
This brings me to the game’s most negative aspect: the Genesis scanner. Originally designed to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS’s ‘augmented reality’ potential, the Genesis scanner is a game mechanic that was lost in translation during the port to console. Instead of using your 3DS as an ‘eye’ into another reality (i.e. the world of the game), players will toggle the Genesis scanner mode by utilizing the left bumper on the game pad.
The Genesis scanner is used throughout the game to various effects: to scan and research enemies to gain green herbs, and to scan the environment for items and achievement-related collectables. Since these items and other accouterments can only be obtained using the green-filtered scanner, the rich atmosphere of the game’s setting is constantly compromised. Power players and completionists will have no choice but to ruin the actual ‘horror’ of their survival experience by spamming the Genesis. This mechanic worked infinitely better on the 3DS, where it was immersive rather than alienating. But it’s a mechanic that is patently inseparable from Resident Evil: Revelations; disappointing to be sure.
And perhaps it was the preview build, but the number of load screens between moments of gameplay was staggering. The length of the load process was much less painful than the frequency, which quite often broke up the action in a non-organic fashion (another symptom of its history as a handheld title, no doubt, but a regular annoyance nonetheless). Astute players will also notice that the action of Revelations feels a little ‘loose’ compared to that of RE5 or RE6, for better or worse.
These shortcomings aside, Resident Evil: Revelations is shaping up to be one of the summer’s tastiest genre treats. Not only has it been retooled for high-definition image and audio, it promises one of the most chilling, mystery-laden chapters in the Resident Evil storyline to date. And the introduction of ResidentEvil.net support as well as the improvements to the stage-rushing ‘Raid Mode’ makes this one fifty-dollar package that’s not to be missed.
Looks like I just got one less reason to buy a 3DS.