Although I’m pretty sure I didn’t ask the question, “what happened to Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield between Resident Evil 4 and 5?”, Capcom has graced the 3DS with a new entry in the series that attempts to do just that. While I’m not sure they’re entirely successful at achieving that goal, Resident Evil: Revelations is a pretty solid entry in the long-running series, and a showcase piece for that shiny new 3DS you got for Christmas.
All of the elements you’d expect from a recent entry in the Resident Evil series are here: private corporations up to no good, a plot that doesn’t pretend to make much sense, a little more gunplay than your traditional survival horror game, weirdly sexist dialogue (a certain female character is a prime offender), and of course, absolutely hideous voice acting from the supporting cast.
The main plot follows Jill Valentine and her new partner, Parker as they hunt for Chris Redfield, who has apparently gone missing at sea on a mysterious/derelict cruise ship, all while tracking down a terrorist cell once thought defunct and yes, yet another variant of the T-Virus. Oh, and there’s a cool future city that gets destroyed by its own government (using reflected solar rays from a satellite) after being overrun by fish monsters. You know, the usual.
You will regularly switch to other characters to flesh out the story. While this affects the pacing of the campaign negatively, it helps break things up a bit, and some of the non-Jill sections take place in (slightly) wider-open areas than the cruise ship allows.
The campaign chapters are broken out episodically, in a manner very similar to Alan Wake. Each section begins and ends with a good chunk of story, and there’s even a “Previously, on Resident Evil Revelations...” lead-in to each chapter, a nice touch. It helps break your playtime into manageable chunks of time, which is thoughtful for gaming on the go.
Jill’s sections tend to play a lot more like a traditional survival horror game, with fewer resources to work with, while other characters’ areas load you up with ammo and high-powered weapons for more combat. At set intervals throughout the story, usually after completing a few chapters, you will unlock missions for Raid Mode, wherein the game’s co-op lies.
Raid Mode contains about 40 levels, all pulled from the single player content. The gameplay is tuned to be a little faster and more action-oriented than the campaign, and a large number of monsters are around every turn, some with extra abilities or buffed defenses to make life hard for you. Each level can be completed in about 5 to 20 minutes, which jives well with the portable nature of the system. You’re also able to select from a stable of characters, each with different weapon proficiencies, level them up, and equip them as you choose.
Raid Mode has its own item shop, where you can buy new weapons, modifications or ammunition for your characters. Currency for this store is earned when completing chapters in the campaign and performing well in Raid Mode sessions. As an added bonus, there are a few items you can even purchase using 3DS Play Coins (you know, the currency used in Find Mii and Puzzle Swap).
You can bring a friend along to play Raid Mode, provided you know someone with a 3DS or are sitting within range of a Wi-Fi connection. Setting up a co-op session is a snap, letting you poll your 3DS friends list or using the simple filtering system Revelations offers for finding open games over the internet. If you’re the patient type, you can simply open up a lobby and allow players to find you. You can also play solo if you prefer, but I think you might be on the wrong site if that’s your cup of tea.
While playing in co-op, I didn’t notice an appreciable difference in difficulty, other than the levels becoming a lot easier due to the added firepower. You can, however, metagame around this by using certain weapon mods that have added effects. There are mods that increase or decrease the amount of threat (to borrow the MMO term) your weapons generate, and mixing a high chance to stun in with these things can really change how you’d play.
Of course, this is predicated on having a local partner. The ability to signal your partner via in-game prompts like Resident Evil 5 used is missing, and there is no support for voice chat, so setting up strategies is next to impossible. Add to that the fact that each player needs to go through a door separately, and it can be fairly easy to get frustrated while playing online. If you want to play this one in co-op, a friend you can talk to (via your choice of internet voice chat) or see in person is the way to go.
No review of this game would be complete without mentioning the new Circle Pad Pro attachment (review forthcoming) for the 3DS, which adds a second analog circle pad and an extra pair of shoulder buttons to the system. While the controls without this attachment are perfectly fine and I had no trouble playing through about half the campaign and a few online co-op sessions using them, I greatly prefer the added control fidelity that the CPP grants.
Rather than mapping all movement and aiming to the left circle pad (you can change the control scheme to allow for aiming with the ABXY buttons, but it wasn’t as comfortable as other games that use that scheme), Revelations remaps the controller to feel more like a modern third-person shooter, with movement mapped to the left circle pad and aiming mapped to the right. Aiming and firing weapons is moved to the new shoulder buttons, and things generally feel a lot nicer. You can even move while aiming!
Taken as a total package, Resident Evil Revelations is an easy game to recommend. It’s got a meaty amount of content, the graphics are just about the best you’ll see on the 3DS right now, and hey, the co-op experience might be a little lacking, but we can’t always win, right?