Sunday, February 8

Resident Evil: Revelations Review (3DS): Serious hardware

For the first time in ten years, I finished a survival horror game.

I blame Resident Evil 4, and the emergence of more gruesome fare such as Dead Space for leading me to shelve the genre almost entirely.  The former was the eminently playable, though horrifically violent match that lit the blaze that was an abundance of increasingly hyper violent horror titles. The fuel has started to dry up though, with tepidly received, relatively recent releases in each of the big series: from Resident Evil 6 to Silent Hill: Downpour.

I loved every minute of Leon S Kennedy's critically lauded adventure on the Gamecube, but after I finished RE4, my resolve gave out. I barely lasted an hour with its sequel, which was dismissed by the majority of outlets and players alike for the partner mechanic, which apparently toned down the scares. I couldn't handle the pressure of Dead Space 2's nightmare-inducing first act. I shied away from anything that looked even remotely frightening.

Enter Resident Evil: Revelations.

Released in 2012 and bought at launch, it sat in my collection almost unplayed until now for two reasons:
1.     I'm a big, fat scaredy-cat.
2.     Even with the Circle Pad Pro (CPP), the game was a monster to control.

Playing without Nintendo's custom-made peripheral made aiming a robotic affair, made playable only because I'd spent fifty-something hours using a similar button configuration to play Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on the PSP. With the CPP, aiming was somewhat more fluid, but putting the system to sleep disconnected it. I'm a sleepy, lazy, fearful adult person, so I let it rest.

Enter the New Nintendo 3DS.

Not only is the latest iteration of the 3DS a bangin' fashion accessory, it also has this ugly little nubbin that works as a second analogue stick. It works well, to the point where moving the protagonists doesn't feel like operating an ornate heavy weapon from a bygone era. Finally, you're allowed to aim and move at the same time. As slow as that combined action is, it makes Jill et al infinitely more nimble than Leon was; meaning the intensity gets dialled back a notch.

The narrative at play in Revelations, as with all survival horror titles, is in an incomprehensible mess. You control multiple characters throughout, but the only real difference is that they have different voices and genders. You move slowly through corridors, you shoot abominations of the flesh with a variety of weapons. Sometimes you die, rarely is it overly gruesome. I could handle this combination of flavours, however bland they may have been.

There are some troubling sexual politics apparent in Revelations. From making light of stalking to every woman's combat outfit being puzzlingly designed to show off curves and bare skin. You'd figure that the prospect of infection with a deadly virus would lead the women of Resident Evil to ask for a functioning zip in Jill's case, or a second pant leg for Jessica's outfit in the second arc. Nope. Get those tits and pins out, ladies. Parker and Chris are covered from head to toe at all times though, so I'm glad at least some of the heroes will be free from the threat of infection.

I did feel as though the final act was unnecessary, and there's a distinct lack of variety in terms of enemy opposition, but I think this is what I needed if I was to reengage with the genre. Resident Evil: Revelations is an enjoyable romp, but if you're expecting an adrenaline-pumping roller coaster ride with jump scares hiding around every corner, look elsewhere.  

Recommended if you can find it cheap on any platform where dual analogue sticks are the norm, otherwise let it sink into the bargain bin.

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