Resident Evil Revelations review

  • A legitimate recreation of what makes RE fun
  • Perfectly paced for handheld play
  • Lots of extra content available post-game
  • Some annoying new characters
  • Enemies lack variety
  • Lots of late game backtracking

As is quickly being made clear by Capcom, 2012 is the year of Resident Evil. The franchise’s 15th anniversary is highlighted by multiple news games coming out, and it all starts with Resident Evil Revelations, a brand new portable adventure starring two of the series’ most popular characters. Can a slimmed down approach to RE’s traditional mix of scares and gunplay work on the three-dimensional handheld? The short answer: yes.

Chronologically taking place between Resident Evil 4 and 5, Revelations’ plot provides some background on how the zombie-killing collective BSAA worked early in its inception. BSAA’s star agents Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield team up with some newer recruits to investigate around the globe a new threat from bioterrorist group Veltro. Though most of the game takes place on an abandoned cruise ship, the settings and timelines are constantly shifting in the surprisingly layered narrative.

Unlike last year’s mediocre The Mercenaries 3D, Revelations is a full RE experience made for handhelds, with a real story, voice acting, and impressive use of the 3D visual effects. The world you explore isn’t as big or sweeping as in recent console titles, but the cramped feeling plays into the claustrophobic vibe, reminding you of early Resident Evil titles. We wouldn’t say the horror has completely returned in this game, but it’s a great effort.

After the bright, open spaces of RE5, the darkly lit settings of Revelations brings back some of the horror the series once had, with shadows hiding enemies behind walls and doorways. The usually impactful gunplay is constant, but ammo is scarce enough to make you careful with your shots. Exploring the boat is a rewarding experience and there’s an interesting scanning mechanic that reminds us of Metroid Prime that makes each area a curious scavenger hunt. However, we didn’t enjoy the game’s standard first-person view when shooting, but that’s easily adjusted to RE’s current third person approach to gunplay in the options.

A majority of the game takes place on the empty (save for the undead) boat The Queen Zenobia. Fans of Jill Valentine upset at how she was portrayed in RE5 will be very happy with her being the strong lead protagonist of the ensemble. Chris gets a fair amount of play time too, but we weren’t in love with all the new characters introduced. Some (particularly Parker and Jessica) are distinctive, but others (like a supposed comic relief duo) leave much to be desired.

As the game continues, the way Revelations reuses certain levels multiple times only gets more frustrating as a heavy dose of backtracking is added in. It’s mixed up a little by sometimes backtracking while swimming, but the aquatic areas got old fast, even if they don’t happen often enough to be a deal breaker. Add to that the fact that the shifting setting occasionally makes it hard to keep track of where you are in the boat, meaning you’ll probably end up going in a circle at least once. Similarly recycled are the enemies, as the generic grey monsters filling the deserted rooms and hallways come in about four varieties. There’s a real lack of diversity in the regular enemy types, and we wish there were some real zombies to be found to spice things up.

Fortunately that general repetition that pops up now and again is often alleviated by Revelations’ stupendous pacing which is perfectly suited for a handheld. The episodic nature of the story is assisted by video recaps at the start of the dozen different episodes, and though you can’t save at will, RER auto-saves often enough that it was never a problem. The story lasts 8-10 hours, with an Achievement-esque rewards system and co-op missions supplying even more replay value in addition to the New Game + available after you finish.

Out of everything available on the 3DS, Resident Evil Revelations is a high profile effort that stands above most of the software you’ll find out there. The thoroughly M-rated adventure fulfills nearly every desire of RE fans, simultaneously fitting the new handheld perfectly thanks to a new episodic approach to storytelling. It’s not a huge leap forward for the series, but it does prove that even on a handheld, Resident Evil can still be a good time.

More Info

Release date: Feb 07 2012 - 3DS (US)
Available Platforms: 3DS
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Franchise: Resident Evil
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language


  • 231231jimmy - March 3, 2012 12:18 p.m.

    great review! i bought this game its a reason to buy a 3ds
  • TheVoid - January 31, 2012 10:42 a.m.

    Great review Henry, thanks! Curious - how's the 3D in the game? I'm a fan of 3D, although it seems like a lot of the GR staff suffers from it (especially if maxed out) or simply writes it off as an unnecessary gimmick. I don't have any physical/mental aversion ot it and as such usually play everything with the 3D full-on, only to find that in some cases it adds to the experience, while other times it takes away from it (just like 3D movies, which I find range from thrilling to distracting to "is it even there?"). My hope would be that a game like RER would take full advantage of the 3D and make very good use of it, especially with the claustrophic horror setting, but there's no mention of it whatsoever in the review, which was a bit surprising/disappointing, mainly because this isn't the first time a GR review of a 3DS game has sidestepped that aspect altogether, which strikes me as odd since a 3D experience is kind of the point with the 3DS. Unless of course you guys consider it a "given" at this point...
  • GR_HenryGilbert - January 31, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    The 3D wasn't spectacular to me, but it was as good as I expected. If you want to get the most out of it, keep the shooting in first person, though it still looks good in third person too.
  • Darkhawk - January 31, 2012 7:25 a.m.

    "Auto Save Resident Evil." Four words I never thought I'd hear. No more typewriters!
  • db1331 - January 31, 2012 5:09 a.m.

    Is the co-op local, or online?
  • GR_HenryGilbert - January 31, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    The co-op is local and over wi-fi
  • nai1210 - January 31, 2012 1:15 a.m.

    8 is a good solid score,i'm about 6 hrs into it and really enjoying it also the minigame raid you unlock after you finnish the 3rd episode of the main game is pretty good fun aswell,can see myself playing the game a few times also i'm not playing with the circle pad pro,which i'll prob pick up for playing through on hell mode,but playing with default control's is very similar to the controls of resi 4.I would def recommend the game especially if your a fan of the series.
  • Hobogonigal - January 30, 2012 11:38 p.m.

    Excited to finally get this game, 8 is good for me and I enjoyed the demo that Nintendo put out over the e-shop. I was hoping the enemies would be a bit more varied though... Thanks for the review Henry!
  • marioman50 - January 30, 2012 10:38 p.m.

    Nice review, but I found 2 errors. "an abandoned cruise ships" "the way Revelations reuses of certain levels multiple times" I'm actually not certain that the second one is an error, but adding the word "of" makes the sentence sound awkward to me.
  • Darkhawk - January 31, 2012 7:33 a.m.

    You're right - these are both grammatical errors. Also I found misspelled legitAmate in the Verdict, and there are bound to be more given the poor quality of writing.
  • RedHarlow - January 30, 2012 10:26 p.m.

    Does Jill have a plasma cutter on the main page screenshot?
  • Shazamin - January 30, 2012 10:24 p.m.

    Henry, it's a quality review, I'll definetly be picking it up from gamestop when it comes out. Question though, have you had a chance to play Metal Gear Solid 3DS, the other 3DS game I'm looking forward to?
  • GR_HenryGilbert - January 30, 2012 11:09 p.m.

    I will the second we get it, but we've yet to receive it. Hopefully we'll get it sooner rather than later.
  • TwinHallow - January 30, 2012 9:41 p.m.

    8 is good enough for me ima buy it still
  • therawski - January 30, 2012 9:37 p.m.

    Awesome job Henry, I'm glad to see that titles like this are possible and likable on 3ds, but I worry that the hardware just isn't up to the task of a online fps (like left4dead), I hope the demo is fun, but I'm waiting for an online coop experience to kill zombies handheld (psvita?) (Mario Kart is just racing, is it the only online offering?)
  • TwinHallow - January 30, 2012 9:42 p.m.

    i played the demo its good way better graphics then i expected
  • Cyberninja - January 31, 2012 3:51 a.m.

    you know that raid mode is online and that there was mercenaries in June that could do online right? so the experience you want is already here and works well.
  • taokaka - January 30, 2012 8:49 p.m.

    What I really want to know is does it have multiple save files so two people can play.
  • GR_HenryGilbert - January 30, 2012 9:02 p.m.

    Two save files are on the cart
  • taokaka - January 30, 2012 9:40 p.m.


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