By EMMANUEL LOPEZ
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
“Resident Evil: Revelations,” originally released last year for Nintendo’s 3DS, attempted to take the series back to its roots by marrying survival horror elements from the earlier games with the action-oriented gameplay of recent installments. Fans responded positively, and it seemed only fair that console gamers be treated to the same experience, but now with a few layers of polish.
Calling the game “Resident Evil: Revelations” is kind of a misnomer, as very little light is shed on the series’ main mythos. Instead, the game is set between “Resident Evil 4” and “RE5,” shortly after the formation of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance. Aside from a few oblique references to Africa, “Revelations” feels more like a self-contained side story than a sequel.
Franchise regulars Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield take center stage in “Revelations,” as the BSAA investigates Il Veltro (“the greyhound” in Italian), a shadowy terrorist group threatening to unleash bioweapons on the world. The plot unfolds at a dizzying pace; jumping between flashbacks and different characters can be jarring at times. But overall, it’s the standard “Resident Evil” fare of conspiracies and double-crosses, although much less convoluted than previous titles.
The game is split into bite-sized episodes, alternating between Jill’s and Chris’ perspectives, while occasionally sprinkling in playing time with the supporting cast. An episode can be completed in roughly a half-hour or less, which is perfect for a handheld, but on the shorter side for a console.
There are instances where it’s clear “Revelations” started out life as a game for a handheld. A few graphical textures are a little rough, particularly on the map screen. The voice acting occasionally falls out of sync with the characters’ animations. For the most part, “Revelations” survives the jump to HD.
Most of the action takes place with Jill and her partner, Parker Luciani, aboard the Queen Zenobia, a cruise ship adrift in the Mediterranean. Exploring the deserted vessel’s labyrinthine halls hearkens back to the sprawling emptiness of the first game’s mansion. The dark, cramped quarters emanate an oppressive sense of dread, with a threat seemingly lurking behind every corner.
Unfortunately, the setting is marred by lackluster level design. Save for the occasional room, the Zenobia is a confusing maze of cut-and-paste corridors, with a couple of simple puzzles (if they can be called that) thrown in. Further compounding the problem is the amount of time spent backtracking through those drab hallways. Some chapters have Jill and Parker running from one end of the ship to the other to complete an objective. It’s easy to get lost aboard the Zenobia, but not for the right reasons.
The more action-packed segments — usually involving Chris and his partner, the shamelessly flirty Jessica Sherawat — provide a nice palate cleanser without needlessly dominating the game and turning it into a Michael Bay movie.
Some of the characters are equipped with a Genesis bioscanner. Similar to Samus Aran’s visor in the “Metroid Prime” games, it pinpoints items and can analyze the makeup of enemies to synthesize healing items. Even with items the bioscanner provides, it feels more like table scraps than a cornucopia, making the choice between fight or flight more urgent.
The computer-controlled partners provide a small measure of comfort against the mutated hordes, but they’re not terribly helpful. Enemies rarely acknowledge their presence, which allows them to take pot shots that seem to do little to no damage. The illusion does make for a good show during some of the more frantic encounters.
There’s no co-op option for the single-player campaign. Instead, there’s Raid Mode, the unlockable bonus mode in the 3DS original, a kind of arcade-style minigame that pits players against retooled sections from the main game. Raid Mode can be tackled solo or cooperatively, either locally or online; the best times and scores are posted online at ResidentEvil.net.
Rewards and experience are doled out for completing each stage, with bonuses assigned for fulfilling optional objectives, such as not taking damage or killing all the enemies. Increasing experience levels lead to access to better weapons and upgrades, which in turn can be purchased with points. Having the right equipment can make the difference between life and death on the more difficult maps.
It’s a welcome diversion from the main campaign, and can also be enjoyed in small stretches.
“Revelations” provides a fresh spin on a formula that started to show its age in “Resident Evil 6.” Even though there are a few hiccups from making the jump to consoles, longtime fans of the series will find there’s a surprisingly robust amount of content. If they missed the boat on the 3DS original, the console port is worthy enough to satisfying any craving for old-fashioned survival horror.
“Resident Evil: Revelations” is rated M and costs $50 for the Wii U, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The 3DS version retails for $40 but can be found for less than that. For this review, I played an Xbox 360 copy of the game provided by the publisher.