The idea of playing a Resident Evil game will strike fear into the hearts of many people. Not because of the content of the game – although there will be times when a good old jump scare will be just around the corner – but because until we actually get our hands on it, there’s no way of knowing if it will be any good. Almost all of the games in the series since the first few, have been met with some element of mild trepidation. Something which culminated in Resident Evil 6‘s rather lacklustre impact on the console gaming scene. One game that was a little better received (although it still didn’t sell in the numbers it was arguably worthy of) was early 2012′s 3DS exclusive title, Resident Evil Revelations. It’s over a year later now and the guys over at Capcom have decided that it’s about time the people without a 3DS got to play in the little playground that they’ve created, one that has been left drifting in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean – a playground called the Queen Zenobia.
While it’s technically true that Resident Evil Revelations HD is a port of a 3DS game that’s over a year old, calling is a port feels like somewhat of a disservice to what Capcom have done with the title. This isn’t the same as taking a PlayStation 2 game, updating some of the textures, adding Trophy support and rereleasing it on the PlayStation 3. Capcom have taken a game that played very well on the smaller screen of the 3DS, remade a lot of the models, remapped all of the controls to work with the dual analog setup of the home consoles (I know that Resident Evil Revelations could be played with the Circle Pad Pro but, really, did anyone buy that?) and made a game that was built to work on a dual screen set-up completely functional on a single screen. In other words, what Capcom have done with Resident Evil Revelations HD is remade the game, and such a course of action has both good points and bad.
If you’ve played the 3DS version of Resident Evil Revelations (and if you own a 3DS, then you should have) then you’ll already be well -versed in what awaits you on board the Queen Zenobia – which brings us to the major negative: nothing has been added to the game. When you start the game there are two gameplay options: “Campaign” and “Raid Mode”. The first option – Campaign – does exactly what it says on the tin. This is the mode that people will be playing most of all and usually tasks you with playing one part of a duo of characters. Sometimes you’ll be playing as Jill, accompanied by Parker (non-playable) as you try to figure out what’s gone wrong with the Queen Zenobia, floating off the coast of Teragrigia (a city which was destroyed after the armed forces failed to contain the catastrophe that occurred there), and sometimes you’ll be playing as Chris, with the non-playable Jessica, as they move around the world looking for clues about Veltro’s (a terrorist organisation intent on infecting part of the world’s water supply with a virus capable of transforming them into mindless Bio-Organic Weapons, or B.O.Ws) existence, and their intentions. As you spend about 90 – 95% of the game with in a party of two, it would be logical to assume that you’d be able to team up with another person and take on the story in co-op; however, that’s not the case. The only time two people can play together in Resident Evil Revelations HD is when they delve into the Raid Mode. Not having the co-operative option won’t be a deal breaker for a lot of people, but adding it would have been a nice – and not to mention logical – way of Capcom showing that they’ve done more than simply port a year old game to the home consoles.
Playing through the campaign feels like you’re playing through any other Resident Evil game, although this version of Revelations does feel much better to control thanks to the addition of the secondary analog stick. The story takes place in twelve episodic missions, each of which are often broken down even further into different sections within those episodes. When each episode ends you’ll get a satisfying End screen, along with a decent enough cliffhanger that will make a lot of people want to keep playing. In this department, the episodic content works well, although it does feels strange to get the “Previously on Resident Evil Revelations…” speech each time you start a new episode when, a lot of the time, you will have literally just completed the section that the “Previously on” video is showing you. It doesn’t break anything and players can skip this small video with a quick tap of the Start button, but it’s difficult not to think that this section is a throwback to the more pick-up-and-put-down nature of the 3DS, and something that feels rather jarring on the Xbox 360.
At the end of each of the stages within an episode, you’ll be presented with the typical Resident Evil results screen, where you’re given a rating based on how well you performed in that particular section. These are scored primarily on your accuracy with a weapon and the number of times you died while you were playing. If you perform well you’ll be awarded the elusive “S” ranking and given the maximum number of “BP” – a pseudo-currency that’s used to purchase weapons, perks and upgrades within Raid Mode; however, if you don’t perform quite so well then you’ll be given a slightly lower grade and awarded a lower amount of BP. Don’t worry though, on the normal difficulty setting – which is the setting I was playing the game on – I never got a rank less than an “A”, so if you’re trying to save up for that one perk in Raid Mode, it shouldn’t be too difficult to attain the number of BP required via the campaign.
Raid Mode allows you to take on a selection of enemies, either on your own or with a friend via Xbox LIVE or System Link (unfortunately there’s no couch co-op here), and be graded by how well you did in that particular stage. At the start of each of the maps, you’re given a basic goal such as “Get to the kitchen”, and it’s your job to take down all of the B.O.Ws that stand between you and said goal. Doing so isn’t some menial task either, as killing enemies will net you additional ammo, BP points, or custom weapon parts. These weapon parts, just as in the main game, can be attached to your weapon in order to increase, for example, the amount of damage it does. The difference in Raid Mode, though, is that these parts can also be sold if you don’t need them in order to earn more BP.
One of the most addictive aspects of Raid Mode, aside from attempting to earn “S” rank on every stage and collecting all of the weapons, characters and upgrades, is that the entire thing also makes use of a levelling system. There’s nothing quite like getting close to the next level and convincing yourself that you’re only going to play until you level up, only to discover that you’ve been telling yourself that for the last four hours and it’s now getting noticeably lighter outside. As expected, the Raid Mode plays a lot better – and is much more fun – if you’ve got a friend to share in the experience, but it stands up well in Solo Play too, and will add a great deal to the overall longevity of the game.
Resident Evil Revelations HD performs well in the visual department, for the most part. The superb graphics of the 3DS have been remade to work with the HD output of our more traditional gaming devices, however, the visuals that once looked better than we thought the 3DS was capable of haven’t kept the same level of aesthetic beauty in translation. Couple those visuals with the fact that a lot of the corridors of the Zenobia (and other areas) look pretty much the same, and the fact that you’ll be facing off against a lot of the same enemies for the majority of the adventure, and you’re left with a game that, while not bad-looking, never really goes the extra step.
The audio wades through a similar sea of mediocrity too. The Resident Evil series of games are known, in some part, for their hammy lines and cheesy delivery, and that’s no different here. Some lines of dialogue are downright cringe-worthy at times (one line near the start of the game, where Jessica feels the need to tell Chris that “Me and my sweet ass are on our way”, is a particular highlight) but these are forgiveable as it’s almost as important to the lore of the series as the zombies are. However, harder to forgive are the multiple areas of the campaign where the music will swell so much that it’s actually difficult to hear what the characters are saying. Often this music won’t go away either, even when nothing is happening except walking around the ship looking for the next door to open in order to progress the story. The music isn’t bad, it’s just too in-your-face. A survival horror needs to have a subtle score in order to set the mood and tension, but Resident Evil: Revelations HD’s score seems to think it’s funny to hit you over the head with the music, and then continue to do so while you’re down. It’s odd.
VERDICT: If you haven’t already played Resident Evil: Revelations on the 3DS, and you’re a Resi fan, then you owe it to yourself to pick up the console remake of it. Not only will it wash the strange taste of Resident Evil 6 out of your mouth, but, at times, it will make you remember what you loved Resident Evil for in the first place. There will be doors that you’re scared to open, shots that you’re scared to make for fear of running out of ammo and corners that you’re just a little bit apprehensive to walk around. Sure, the dialogue is a little bit hammy and there are video game tropes littered throughout the 8 – 10 hour experience that you’d have thought we’d have grown out of by now, but this is a pure and simple Resident Evil game. No frills, no messing about, just good, honest fun – albeit with more than its share of “quirks”.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.