Medium: Game ‒ Nintendo 3DS
Stimulus: Resident Evil: Revelations
Resident Evil 4 was the last time I remember feeling unadulterated joy toward a video game. The action was fantastic, the enemies were intelligent, and the role playing and treasure hunting elements made for a lot of replay value. I positively beamed the first night I played it. For me it was easily the best game of the past decade. As such, it serves as the measuring stick by which I’ve judged the Resident Evil games that followed, and like its fellow 3DS game The Mercenaries 3D, Revelations doesn’t measure up. It’s an okay game on its own merits, but I expected a portable version of Resident Evil 4, and this isn’t it.
The biggest issue I have with Revelations is that there are two, count em, two zombie-type creatures in the entire game ‒ and they’re easily the best adversaries. For a series that has built its entire reputation on zombie hunting ‒ to say nothing about the awesomeness found as the series progressed and the infected became intelligent ‒ this is unacceptable. Instead, the player fights clawed, shambling, dumb sea humanoids that seem like they’d belong more in Dead Space than here. There’s even a big hulking hellbeast with a functioning chainsaw arm with functioning chainsaw sounds, which made me wonder how it keeps its gas tank filled. More annoying, these twitchy inhumans shudder around like mental patients and always seem to twist out of the way of the player’s shots at just the right moment. There’s a rifle in this game for long distance shots, but considering these jerky movements and the fact that the monsters rarely show up until they’re right in your face, using it is pretty pointless.
The point is that I really, really missed smart zombies.
There are two game modes: a story mode and a stripped down, more minigame version of the story mode called Raid Mode. The weird thing is that Raid mode feels more fleshed out than the main campaign, which switches perspectives far too much, forcing the player to operate as different characters instead of advancing the abilities of a single one. Campaign Mode also forces the player to run around with a scanner separate from one’s weapons, scanning all surroundings with it to find extra items and secrets, Metroid Prime-style, while one hopes not to run into any monsters while so unarmed. This is really clunky and annoying. In contrast, Raid Mode features actual character levels and offers far more weapon customization. The scanner doesn’t even make an appearance. Campaign Mode feels like something to be endured; Raid Mode feels like something to be enjoyed.
The 3DS Resident Evil games have been the only 3DS games I’ve played so far which made me question the technical limits of the system. In The Mercenaries, the glitches were limited to shaky movements of far-off enemies; in Revelations, the limitations seem to result in a very stripped-down world where you’re herded from Point A to Point B, which is just as well because it’s not that much fun to explore anyway.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that there are swimming stages in Revelations, the bane of all video gamers’ existences! Joy.
Yeah, I’m bitter that Revelations isn’t as good as Resident Evil 4, but you know what? That game is, what, eight years old now? Why shouldn’t this game have been able to blow that one out of the water instead of being a half-hearted clone?