"Resident Evil" as a series has been on the ropes for last couple of years. With a main numbered entry that was an affront to humanity, a smaller portable title overshadowed by its bigger brother, and a 3DS launch game that skimped on content, it was surprising to see that some fans were shouting for an HD port of the admittedly overlooked and somewhat meandering "Resident Evil: Revelations." Whie Charles was thoroughly unimpressed, I decided to dive in the HD rerelease to see if maybe the few additions would make it worth another trip.
I'm surprised, given the amount of bashing, that "Resident Evil: Revelations HD" is actually pretty OK -- threatening to even be excellent at times.
"Resident Evil: Revelations" follows two well tread RE veterans, Jill and Chris, who are each partnered with fellow BSAA agents investigating a new biological threat originating from an abandoned cruise ship. The narrative shifts between Chris and Jill's story with the occasional flashback or side mission to flesh out what's going on, though all the characters fundamentally play the same. I found this to be somewhat refreshing, as it mixed up some of the plot threads and help you get a sense of the full story. The actual plot, however, is a missed opportunity to really take the RE franchise into a new direction -- especially after the fan wanking ending of RE5. Instead, you'll plot all the familiar points and the "revelations" twist is seen from a mile away. But as a smaller title, the story is serviceable if bland.
Gameplay mostly consists of walking and shooting. Yep, walking and shooting -- "Revelations" boldly leaps into the third person shooter genre by allowing a choice better shooter and classic controls. I played though using shooter and found them to be intuitive and smooth. However, sometimes its difficult finding a happy medium between aim speed as the cross hair's acceleration quickly ramps making you miss shots as the camera swings wildly. Playing on the Wii U's GamePad felt natural and you could use the touch controls to quick select if you wanted but was never really needed. Generally, the combat controls well enough but the touchy dodge mechanic was especially terrible. I could never manually pull off a dodge with success resulting in wasted healing supplies. Coupled with a overly sensitive camera, you could find yourself in trouble when facing several monsters at once.
Additionally, there are a few underwater swimming missions that really just shouldn't be in any game. Seriously, let's just stop already with confusing and difficult swimming sections. Thankfully, they are pretty short.
Outside of combat, you'll explore the vast ship-- finding keys and solving simple puzzles -- searching for who or what is behind the big bad. You also have access to a scanning device that you can pull out and search rooms for extra supplies. It's a sorta neat at first but it doesn't offer any extra info about the ship or its missing crew. You can scan enemies to fill up a percentage meter, which when full will give you a bonus gran herb for healing. But to get the most points, you'll need to scan the creature while it's still alive, so often it's not worth it. If Capcom had just added a little more to this device and what you could discover, it would be a neat way to fill in the narrative for Resident Evil superfans.
All the major tropes that make up a Resident Evil game are present -- except zombies. Well, classic zombies, that is. Instead, the evil not-Umbrella biotech company have created a kind of weird off-brand T-Virus called T-Abyss that turns victims into an amalgam of human and mollusk. I actually liked the enemy designs and was a bit refreshing to move away from the tried and tired zombie formula. Of course, you'll run into a familiar enemy or two and the bosses look more or less like a slimier Tyrant, but the overall designs looked slick and gross and creepy.
Though "Revelations" started on the small screen, Capcom managed to up-res the graphics for your HDTV. The 3DS version already pushed that little device to its limit but on the Wii U it looks just great with completely new renders and textures. It's not exactly a graphic powerhouse but it's not ugly and the pre-rendered scenes looked nice, too. Occasionally, you'll find a blurry, muddy texture and, at some points, the framerate would stutter to below 30 making some monster encounters jittery. It's not the most amazing but it's certainly pleasing to look at, and unless you can have your day completely ruined by a the wayward pixel, you'll not even notice some of the uglier parts.
Rounding out the content is Raid Mode, which lets two players team up in a kind of mix between a normal mission and the arcadey Mercenaries minigame. You're awarded a score based on completion time, accuracy, kills, etc. It's simple and pretty fun -- especially with the loot-driven gameplay where you'll want to replay missions to earn better guns and more powerful mods. I spent nearly 6 hours just playing online in what is fairly robust game mode. Honestly, I'd love a full-fledged RE game based around the Raid Mode. There are a few new characters to unlock with the HD rerelease but that's about it for extras.
"Resident Evil: Revelations" is not a great game but it strike a happy medium between frights and action in a lot of ways. Yes, shooting can be twitchy at times and the story is beyond silly and dumb. And maybe that's what's missing in RE game now, a silly, dumb plot that pits you face to shell with aquatic monsters because some biotech firm CEO wants to rule the world through fear. The summer lulls are often short on consent and if you're a Wii U owner and horror/shooter fan then "Resident Evil: Revelations" might be worth your time.
"Resident Evil: Revelations HD" is available now for $49.99 on PC, PS3, Wii U, and Xbox 360. Review copy provided by Capcom. Reviewed on Wii U.