Coming away from Resident Evil: Revelations, I can’t help but feel that this should have been the one sold as Resident Evil 6. It’s easily the stronger of the two games by far, containing elements that made it far more tense and fun than its vastly more expensive counterpart. Considering this is a port of a 3DS game, it’s kind of amazing how much better it is than Resident Evil 6. It’s got solid pacing, a neat weapon upgrade system, competent storytelling, tough bosses, and some genuinely challenging areas. It’s no Resident Evil 4, but it’s probably the closest they’ve come in years.
A return to the classic Resident Evil was what was being said when Revelations came out on the 3DS. It is in some aspects. For starters, one enemy can actually make for a lot of trouble some times. The main difficulty with them is that the enemies move in really erratic patterns. These pulpy, liquid creatures don’t seem to have the best bone structure, so they tend to dip and weave while they’re walking. They’re always moving forward like the enemies from RE4, but they rarely walk in a straight line and they don’t dodge as logically. Many of them will spontaneously stumble or shift to the other side of the room, making it hard to keep a bead on them for a head shot. It can feel inelegant compared to shooting Ganados from RE4, but the results were a little more chaotic.
I didn’t feel as sure of my shots when I was dealing with the monsters in Revelations. Instead of systematically taking out the knees and then moving in for a melee attack like I could in RE4, now I had to take what shot I could get. Trying more complex shots tends to be a big gamble, as the enemies will often dip to one side and make you miss your next shot or two. It’s far safer to aim for the most mass, although the enemies all have a lot of health. You will easily go through an entire clip of handgun bullets to kill anything, even on the lowest difficulty, so headshots are worthwhile to take even if they are hard to hit.
You’ll have a hard time if you decide to just stick to the safe body shots because there’s isn’t a lot of ammo in the game. I used to make up for this in RE4 by shooting kneecaps and switching to melee, but with the weird creature movement it’s far more difficult to pull off in this game. It means you’ll be burning through a lot more ammo than you’ll mean to, even if you’re a veteran of the franchise. On top of that, enemies take a long time to drop after receiving lethal damage, giving very little indication they’re dead. As a tip, your crosshairs glow when an enemy is still active, so watch carefully for when they stop glowing. I think I wasted about twenty percent of the ammo in the game shooting enemies that were already dead.
The game seems to be really, really low on supplies when you first look at it, but that’s because you haven’t been scanning your environment yet. You’re given a side weapon called the Genesis, and you can use it to look around for more supplies. It’s used like a weapon, where you hold it like a gun and aim it around the area, firing it once you see it detecting something. I found it a little tedious at first since I felt like I had to be looking through it all the time to find anything, but it can detect items that are a good distance away. An orb glows yellow when something is around, and items can even be in the next room and still be detected. Whether you like it or not you’d better get used to it, as a lot of the game’s supplies can only be accessed with this tool. I would have preferred to just have gear lying around rather than have this extra step, but I can see someone enjoying the scavenger hunt aspect of this tool.
The Genesis has an added function in that it will give you herbs if you use it to scan enemies. It seems like a pretty easy trade at the start, as you can just scan the puddles of goop that many enemies leave behind. You have to fill the scanner up to one hundred percent to get your herb, though, and each body has a value that decreases over time. All dead enemies are lumped in the same category, so scanning the dead won’t get you many herbs. Instead, the best idea is to scan live enemies; something that adds another troublesome aspect to combat. Do you risk scanning a new enemy so you can get the free herb? Again, the game wants you gambling during combat, so it does make combat stressful in a good way.
You can help yourself out, though. There are a lot of weapon parts lying around the game that you can equip. Each weapon has a couple of slots that you can fill with damage and clip increases, among other things. You can also add absurd levels of stopping power, or give your gun the ability to stun a creature; helping tip the odds more in your favor. Each weapon has its own amount of slots available for these bonuses, though, so you have to be particular. Still, you can make some monstrously powerful tools if you’re willing to be thorough with your scanning as a lot of these parts are hidden, in hard to reach spots, or carried by powerful monsters. They’re completely worth it, though, and will go a long way to making your life easier.
You will need those parts for the bosses for sure. It’s been a good long time since I had bosses that genuinely worried me, let alone beat me. The bosses in Revelations are absolute damage sponges, and they tended to show up once I was starting to get confident in my ammo stockpile. I’d have something like eight grenades (I always forget about them) and almost full ammo for each of my weapons, but I’d still limp away with almost nothing. I had to look around for every ammo pittance I’d left lying around after I beat the first boss, only to find that enemies spawned indefinitely in the promenade when I went back to look around (Never, ever go to the promenade unless you have to, by the way).
While you’re trying to beat them you can best believe they’re going to pound on you. Boss damage is pretty high, something that makes sense when you’re getting hit with a spiked, armored limb that’s bigger than you are. These guys can whittle you down to nothing in a few clumsy hits; and while most of them plod along, they’re either backed up by other enemies to keep you busy or have weak points that aren’t easy to hit. The last boss required me to stand right in front of him and take a carefully aimed shot to a weakness that only opened a second before he was about to take a swing. It’s a perfect match to the whole risk theme that’s running through the combat in this game, and every successful hit that staggered the last boss felt like a small victory. After getting ripped apart a few times, it felt really, really good to finally beat him.
What made the fight a lot harder was the dodging system. You can weave around enemy attacks by pressing in a direction and hitting the right button, but I had the hardest time getting the hang of it. I did it by accident far more often than on purpose, and it made the last boss a real pain when I missed my shot. I found that the huge character model for Jill would just block a lot of the screen, making it hard for me to see enough of the enemy’s attack to know when to dodge it. Also, that same erratic movement that makes it hard to shoot enemies makes it hard to know when they’re attacking. Finally, I just found it difficult to tell when I should hit the buttons during the enemy’s attack. I never felt I knew whether I should do it right before the swing, during the swing, or just before impact. It never seemed to work when I wanted it to.
The narrative leading up to the final boss wasn’t half bad, though. Yes, it’s somewhat predictable, but for a Resident Evil game it was almost logical. There was a point where I literally had trouble figuring out where I was in the game because of a really odd plot twist, but otherwise it’s a lot better than the last two outings for the series. Also, this game weaves sections with different characters in it to give the player a little variety. It makes the story a lot more coherent than having three different storylines told separately like in RE6, and it also gave me a little extra challenge as my guns improved. I often found that when I was getting cocky with my new weapon upgrades, the game would send me out as a different character for a while. It was nice to see the plot from different viewpoints, but these scenarios could be pretty challenging at times. One right before the end forced me to run around with very little ammo for a while, leaving me pining for Jill and her gun collection.
As you play, you earn BP. While that has no obvious use in the game, it does once you finally get to the Raid Mode. Raid Mode lets you use your BP to buy guns, ammo, and equipment so that you can fight in various areas from the game. It’s pretty much like the Mercenaries modes from the past games, and it’s really great. I’d almost say that the best reason to play the main game is to unlock maps for Raid Mode, as this was where I had the most fun. Adding on that you can play this mode with a friend just makes it even better.
Enemies in Raid mode show a level above them, indicating how hard they are to fight. It’s a nice thing to know, as the game throws a lot more enemies at the player in more challenging ways here than anywhere in the regular game. Expect to have creatures spawn behind you or just dog you in large groups. You slowly gain levels and are given access to better weapons as you play, but having good reflexes and knowledge about how to use your environment are far more important.
The main game could be stressful when fighting certain enemies, but this mode starts out right at the cusp of overwhelming and gets worse fast. Enemies are placed in devious places, and the mobs are often put together with a lot more thought than in the main game. One weakness in combat in the main game was that enemies didn’t always get lumped together with ones that complemented them, or they fought you one on one. This mode is almost always throwing mobs at the player, so it feels a lot more dangerous. It expects a lot more of the player over a (sometimes) shorter time, and it’s a lot of fun to play because of it. Also, the strain of going for a no-damage bonus is just incredible during some stages.
Most of the major accomplishments and secrets in the game unlock characters and weapons in Raid Mode. It felt like a bit of an odd choice until I started playing it, but once I was into it I had a hard time going back to the main game. It might have been nice to have more of my campaign accomplishments give me more things in the campaign, but I do have New Game + to keep me busy now that it’s finished. Besides, after playing the basic campaign, the short but difficult Raid Mode maps feel more like something I’ll spend my time doing. They’re the sort of thing you can do if you have a half hour free and don’t want to get too involved in the game, and with lots of characters and items to unlock it feels like it’s the most worthwhile mode to play multiple times.
I can see myself playing New Game +, though, because the campaign of Resident Evil: Revelations was a good time. It’s not quite ready to take on RE4, but as far as the more action-oriented Resident Evil games it’s on the right track. If only the enemy mobs had been put together with the same care they’d been in RE4 this game could have been amazing, but it is still worth your money. If you’re jonesing for Resident Evil, it’s definitely a better investment than RE6.