With long standing series that span years and have devoted fans, new releases are often negatively compared to their predecessors, but my first introduction to this franchise was Resident Evil 5. As a result, I don't feel any nostalgia about it and my review doesn't have many preconceptions about what a Resident Evil game should look like, nor what its premise should be. On the upside, this allows me to judge this game based solely on its own merits or lack thereof.
This addition to the series takes place in time between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. It covers events shortly after Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield and Clive O'Brian, at the request of the U.S. Government, establish an organization called the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance). In a flashback to an earlier time, we see Terrigrigia, the first city to be sustained by solar energy, being targeted by a bioterrorist group named il Veltro. The situation is critical as a chemical weapon known as the t-Abyss virus, as well as Hunter type Bio Organic Weapons (B.O.W.), have been released on the populace. Although disputed by Clive O'Brian, Morgan Lansdale, the commissioner of the FBC (Federal Bioterrism Commission) makes the decision to contain this threat by completely destroying the entire city. Terrigrigia lies in ruins and il Veltro goes into hiding.
In present time, the BSAA begins to suspect the resurfacing of il Veltro and Chris and his partner Jessica are sent to investigate. When they go missing, Clive O'Brian sends Jill and Parker Luciani to their last known location, the derelict cruise ship S.S. Queen Zenobia. Adrift in the sea, this abandoned vessel is one of three sister ships that mysteriously disappeared after the owners went bankrupt.
The game is presented in episodic content with recaps in between. BSAA operators work in teams of two and episodes switch between these teams, often changing venues and covering parallel time lines. For instance, you will play an episode with Jill and Parker, then the next episode will be played with Chris and Jessica at a different location. Each episode progresses the overall plot, but from the point of view of what contribution each team is making within the story. Some episodes are back story, such as a sequence on Terrigrigia, which explains events that have led up to the present circumstances. Unfortunately, there are fairly long loading screens and redundant story recaps during switches.
My initial impressions of the first few episodes were not particularly great. The visuals are uneven between episodes, the dialogue sometimes jeuvenile, commentary on inspected items even worse, and mechanics are often awkward. That was my first impression, but although Resident Evil Revelations will never go down in the annals of great game playing history, for all its faults there is something surprisingly captivating about it.
The game is a mixed bag of genres and can't really settle on what it wants to be. This translates to its mechanical features being fairly mediocre all the way around. The weapons are crappy as in most horror survival games with low damage and slow reload times, even with ugrades, and your AI partner is basically useless. It's also a mixed bag of visuals. They can range from good to poor depending on the episode. The cut scenes and content on the ship tends to be fairly good, but content elsewhere can be subpar. But what is rather strange is that graphical quality can also change during the same episode.
As I mentioned, the weapons suck and there is limited ammo. The bio organic monsters are repetitive and require so much damage to kill that you often run out of ammo. However, it took me awhile to realize two things – you can scan for hidden items and you can break boxes with melee, which may hold ammo or health. Regardless, it's often necessary to dodge the enemy and escape through a door rather than fight them. Conversely, if Resident Evil games are not meant to be shooters, you would think that the survival mechanics such as dodge and melee would be long ago perfected, but unfortunately they are not. So neither shooting nor avoiding the enemy works really well.
Paradoxically, for all the game's inconsistencies, the whole thing was quite enjoyable. Perhaps the one strong feature is the characters. They have long standing relationships with each other that make you care about what happens to them and the story is intricate enough to keep you interested.
Upon completion of certain episodes, raid mode starts to unlock where one or two players can revisit updated campaign maps. Upon beating each stage, you receive a rank, bonus and experience points, and items dependent upon performance. Raid mode also includes characters and costumes not available in the main campaign, as well as its own weapon system.
Residentevil.net is a free web service which supports Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil Revelations. You must sign up to unlock special in-game items such as costumes, powerful weapons and achievements. You can also view player data and participate in online events.