Review: Resident Evil Revelations

You can't blame fans of the Resident Evil franchise for their displeasure with the direction this series has taken, with its last two iterations having a distinct emphasis on Michael Bay-style action versus pure survival horror. Fortunately for the purist Resi fans, Resident Evil: Revelations adheres more closely to the series roots, offering a smaller, more focused and thus better game than what came before.

Originally a 3DS game, Revelations bridges the gap between Resident Evil 4 and 5. Series mainstays Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield are joined by newbies Parker Lucia and Jessica Sherawat as they investigate the destruction of a city called Terrorgrigia. Since this is a Resident Evil game, it should surprise no one that the investigation involves dark corners, flash lights and a monster causing virus. The story is ridiculous in that way that only a Resident Evil game can deliver, but it's at least delivered in an interesting way. Each level is broken up into a TV-like episode, complete with 'previously on' opening to catch you up on the story. It also means Revelations can incorporate lots of flashbacks, parallel storylines, and somewhat unexpected twists and turns. Plot twist: the twists are totally expected. Come on people, its Resident Evil, not Sherlock Holmes.

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The majority of the game takes place on a cruise ship called the SS Queen Zenobia, which is the ideal setting for a survival horror game. The ship is gigantic, atmospheric and impressively varied in its locations, which changes-up as the game progresses. Unfortunately, many of the games flashback sequences pull away from the Zenobia, leaving behind its dank, dark and claustrophobic hallways for more open areas that squares up with the actiony Resident Evil 5 & 6. It's the only bad spot in the game's repertoire, which plays very much like a traditional survival game.

Those "crap, crap, crap" moments, that we've come to associate with the franchise, are very much in play again. So it's all about carefully and methodically searching for ammo, edging around corners in fear of what could be there and making every shot count. It's perhaps not as desperate as previous games in the series - chalk that up to having done this before - but it's still a tension-filled experience.

Once you've completed the main campaign, you can take on 'Raid Mode'. Raid is a sort of action-RPG sub-game, the purpose of which is to replay through levels from the single player campaign to gain points which can be spent on weapons and upgrades. This then allows you to take on much tougher stages. Its basically a version of Horde mode, but thanks to Resident Evil's unique combat mechanics, it is its own beast, offering its own challenges. Adding to the fun, Raid is also an online co-op game, so you can tackle it with a buddy. Since it's on a big console this time around actually getting a game going  is a lot easier than it was on the 3DS.

Speaking of the 3DS. As a port of an originally handheld game, you'd be surprised at how technically competent the game is. Only the most elite of graphic whores would notice, or care, that the fidelity isn't quite up to scratch with Resident Evil 5 or 6, but no one will be able to say that the game is bad looking. The hallways and pathways of the Zenobia are dank, dark and oppressively cramped. The monsters and various other shambolic creatures that haunt the ship are appropriately ghoulish and morsig.

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Ultimately, Resident Evil: Revelations is a return to form for the franchise. Perhaps not an ideal return, but a return nonetheless. Whether it's a result of it 3DS origins or not, Revelations is a smaller game, more intimate game that lacks the blockbuster aspirations that's infected the numbered games in the series. It's a tone that suits the series origins better and fans of the franchise will likely find more to like here than they did in Resident Evil 6.

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