Resident Evil: Revelations is set between RE4 and RE5. Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, the protagonists of the original game, are now members of the BSAA, an anti-bioweapon organization. One year ago, the terrorist group Veltro attacked and destroyed the city of Terragrigia. Veltro has returned and is using a floating cruise liner, the Queen Zenobia, as its home base. Jill and her new partner, Parker, are sent to investigate, only to find that the vessel is filled with new monsters called Oozes. Jill and Parker lose their only mode of transportation, so the duo must find a way to escape. Meanwhile, Chris and the other BSAA members must track them down before Veltro deploys its new T-Abyss virus into the ocean.
You don't play Revelations for the plot unless you're a die-hard Resident Evil fan. It was intentionally designed to have more of a "soap opera" feel than the previous entries in the series. The BSAA seems to be populated with eccentric personalities that you wouldn't want within 20 feet of a gun, let alone dedicated to saving the world. The exceptions are Jill and Chris, who stoically do their work. Giant space lasers, insane conspiracies, and other classic Resident Evil tropes are present and turned up to 11. There are a few moments when the game genuinely feels horrifying, but they aren't the norm. For those who played the Nintendo 3DS version, the plot hasn't changed, so don't expect any extra information or answers.
Revelations plays something like a midpoint between the classic horror-themed gameplay style and the newer post-RE4 action games. As in the modern games, you can manually target your enemies, move around, and avoid attacks. Unlike the recent games, however, there's less emphasis on stunning enemies and performing melee attacks. Instead, your goal is to target enemy weak points to damage them as quickly as possible. A headshot will not stun a basic Ooze enemy the same as it would a Ganado or even a zombie in RE6, but it does more damage. This is important because ammunition is a scarcer commodity than in the recent games. If you waste bullets, you'll be running completely dry. This is where the horror elements come into play. You can't afford to run-and-gun, at least on the higher difficulty levels. Mistimed shots or poor use of resources can force you to rely on your knife.
It's possible to stun enemies, but that requires a barrage of bullets to their weak points. As in recent Resident Evil games, you can perform a melee attack on a stunned enemy to do massive damage and conserve ammunition, but these powerful attacks have been simplified. If an enemy is stunned, you can go up to them and hit a button to perform a melee attack. Each character has a single melee attack, and you power up the attack by charging it. The longer you charge, the more damage you'll do. A fully charged melee attack is arguably the most powerful attack in the game aside from the rocket launcher. The downside is that you're vulnerable while charging, so an Ooze could sneak up on you.
One of the game's most important, and yet most awkward, features is the Dodge. It's an evolution of the dodge feature in RE3: Nemesis. Dodging is closer to a parry in a fighting game. If you press toward or away from an enemy at the exact moment he's about to hit you, you'll instantly dodge the attack. This is all-or-nothing, so if you mistime it, you'll get hit in the face. You have to approach it as a video game mechanic by recognizing the exact frames during which an enemy's attack can be dodged. The window for dodging is pretty wide, and it's easy to dodge by accident, but it still feels awkward. A dedicated "press this to dodge" button would've been better.
The game is structured in an odd way. There are technically two narratives: Jill and Parker are trapped on the boat, and the rest of the world is trying to figure out what's going on. The game is divided into chapters, a concession to the portable nature of the original Revelations that remained in the HD version, with the chapters switching between Jill and Parker and various other characters. Jill's section is the full story, with you progressing through the Queen Zenobia and finding new equipment and items. You'll also find custom gun parts to upgrade the power or attributes of your weapons. Jill's sections have fewer enemies but an emphasis on the deadliness of individual foes and the importance of every bullet. You'll face all of the bosses in the game as Jill.
In comparison, the other sections of the story are more limited. You won't find new equipment or items, and you can't customize or upgrade your weapons. Each character has a set loadout of weaponry. The stages are also designed around action instead of horror. You'll almost exclusively fight faster but weaker enemies, such as dogs and hunters instead of the more durable Oozes, and you'll see greater numbers of enemies than in Jill's chapters. Ammunition is more plentiful, and the challenge of these stages is to not be overwhelmed. There are a few stages where you fight Oozes or other foes, but those are exception cases.
For the most part, the game is well-designed, the stages are fun, and there's a good blend of action and horror elements. The biggest problem is that it was clearly designed for a 3DS and wasn't changed when ported over to consoles. It certainly looks better, but it's impossible to ignore that the environments are small and that there is a ton of recycling in the game. There is a particular plot twist that seems to exist entirely so they can recycle half of Jill's levels for another character. The way the stages are broken down into chapters feels very out of place on a console system.
The star of the game is Raid mode. Despite the fact that you have a partner throughout the story mode, it is only playable in single-player. Raid mode, which is unlocked in chunks as you complete parts of the game, allows you to play through the same levels solo or with a cooperative partner. Unlike the story mode, you're not stuck with certain characters and can choose from any characters who appear in the game, as well as a few cameos, like Resident Evil 2's HUNK. Several characters also have multiple costumes that change their abilities. You unlock characters by completing challenges, either in the main game or in Raid mode.
There are some differences between the main story and Raid mode's versions of the levels. The levels don't have a plot, and the enemy layouts have changed. Enemies and certain boxes now drop items for your character. As you play levels, your character levels up, but leveling up only allows you to equip more powerful guns. Each stage has a recommended level that you should be to complete it. The game becomes a balancing act between leveling up and gaining guns to keep up with the advancing power of the enemies. You can also unlock BP, which you spend to unlock new guns or upgrades. You're scored at the end of a stage for how many enemies you killed, how quickly you finished the stage, and how little damage you took. In addition, each level has three challenges: finish the stage without taking any damage, kill every enemy in the stage, and finish the stage below the recommended level. Finishing all three is necessary to obtain the Trinity Bonus and get the highest payout from a stage.
Raid mode is held back by a few problems. Enemies can quickly become bullet sponges. Since your power is tied to your weapon, a run without any good weapons or attachments can really hold you back. Even with a good weapon, the enemy's HP levels bloat quickly and you'll find, especially with some of the bosses, that they become more tedious than challenging. This is further hurt by the fact that the best power-ups in the game are downloadable paid DLC. You don't technically need the DLC to finish or even enjoy Raid mode, but when you're fighting a bullet-sponge boss, it reminds you that this would be easier with the firepower upgrades. This is especially true if you play online with someone who does have those upgrades. Grinding for loot is fun, but it starts to lose its charm once you realize that you're just not going to get the best stuff.
Resident Evil: Revelations is one of the best-looking titles on the Nintendo 3DS, but the Xbox 360 counterpart isn't quite as good. The character models and environments have been given a very noticeable facelift, and there are several cases where silly or annoying things from the 3DS version have been fixed. The characters' mouths actually move now! It doesn't look as good as RE6, and there are some areas where the 3DS design limitations are apparent. The 3-D effect of the 3DS is missed because it really made some environments pop in a way that an HD screen can't manage, but that's an unavoidable sacrifice for the console change. The voice work seems effectively unchanged from the 3DS version, aside from the addition of some new lines for characters who weren't previously playable. It's still cheesy enough to make you laugh.
Resident Evil: Revelations is a well-made game. It lacks the highs of Resident Evil 6 but also avoids that game's tremendous lows, focusing on a more consistent, well-rounded experience. It doesn't break the Resident Evil mold, but perhaps that is for the best. Resident Evil 6 seemed to pull in 50 directions at once while Revelations manages to push toward a more solid and focused goal. It has some flaws, but none provide more than a momentary annoyance. If you're a fan of Resident Evil titles, you'll enjoy Revelations.
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