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

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  • EHyundai - January 30, 2012 5:58 p.m.

    I'm not too surprised.
  • ninjaemperor - January 30, 2012 6:01 p.m.

    Great review Henry! I really enjoyed the demo, I might pick this up, though I'm not quite sure yet.
  • Z-man427 - January 30, 2012 6:04 p.m.

    I wanted to like the demo, but the first person aiming was just too jarring for me to enjoy. Ruined the immersion.
  • Rancid47 - January 30, 2012 6:05 p.m.

    You can change the aiming in the game to be third person.
  • shawksta - January 30, 2012 6:15 p.m.

    You can change the controls/Aiming to what you see fit, TRY IT AGAIN!
  • Z-man427 - January 30, 2012 7:40 p.m.

    Thanks. That aiming was better, but I still didn't care for it as much. Probably better with a second stick though. I'm on the fence, but If I choose to pick it up, I'll probably go for the circle pad as well.
  • DevonOO7 - January 30, 2012 6:11 p.m.

    How much does the Circle pad pro improve this game?
  • GR_HenryGilbert - January 30, 2012 6:22 p.m.

    I'll have a small feature tomorrow about whether the Circle Pad is worth buying overall. I will say right now that once I started using the Pad Pro I got for free, I didn't want to go back to playing without.
  • DevonOO7 - January 30, 2012 7:02 p.m.

    Ok thanks
  • Ravenbom - January 30, 2012 6:27 p.m.

    That's about what I expected based on the demo. I was disappointed by the lack of variety in enemies and even more so to know that this isn't just the case with the demo but I'll still probably pick this one up down the line.
  • sid440 - January 30, 2012 6:47 p.m.

    First review i read that didn't make a big deal about the graphics and just focused on the game itself, defiantly going to pick this up.
  • Dadyo238 - January 30, 2012 7:19 p.m.

    Loved the demo, but it was so dark that I had to max out the brightness, which depleted my battery.
  • Spybreak8 - January 30, 2012 7:24 p.m.

    Yeah I played the demo and thought this is neat but nothing ground breaking. It also felt like I've been down that scary hallway before lol.
  • thelazymackenzie - January 30, 2012 7:54 p.m.

    Henry wrote a review?!?! Time to get a cold glass of water and enjoy some quality writing.
  • onetimebuster - January 30, 2012 7:55 p.m.

    Looks amazing.
  • 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.

  • MCN2011 - January 31, 2012 2:28 a.m.

    And, you'll be pleased to hear, you can delete them if you wish.
  • 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?)

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