‘Resident Evil: Revelations’
Poor Jill Valentine. That woman has been put through the ringer.
Fans of the long-running Capcom game series “Resident Evil” will recognize Ms. Valentine in the opening scenes of “Resident Evil: Revelations” HD (PS3, WiiU, X360; rated M; $49.99) the console port of last year’s well-received Nintendo 3DS game. Once again, she’s up to her ears in bio-engineered zombies and vast corporate conspiracies.
With the graphic specs jazzed up, the game has been bumped from handheld to console with its essential charms intact. In this instance, those charms represent an old-school style of play that evokes the original 1996 PlayStation game. “Resident Evil” – branded as “Bio Hazard” in Japan – more or less pioneered the video game genre now known as survival horror. The gist: Fight with and/or run from gory mutated horrors while solving the occasional puzzle and acting out the plot of a pulpy b-movie fright fest.
As the game begins, Jill has just boarded a derelict cruise ship with fellow operative Parker Luciani, of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). They’re looking for Chris Redfield, the series’ other mainstay, whose radio signal has gone dead.
Crawling with mutated monsters
Everything on the ship has gone dead, as a matter of fact, but it’s a lively sort of dead. The ship’s air ducts and shadowy corners are crawling with grotesquely mutated monsters – bio-organic weapons, or BOWs in the series mythology. Don’t bother trying to keep up with acronyms; it really doesn’t matter.
As the game progresses, you’ll bounce through some flashback sequences and assume the role of several other protagonists in different locations. The teams eventually converge again on the infested ship, which turns out to be a pretty great setting for the game’s retro scary style. Moving through the cramped quarters of the cruise ship recalls similar environments in the Gothic mansion of the original game.
The monsters on the ship, it turns out, are infected with the T-Abyss virus, a marine variant of that pesky T-virus, which has been spawning monstrosities for more than 15 years now. The monsters pop out of the floor, the ceiling, the ducts and the bulkhead compartments. One clever aspect of the setting is that the entire ship is subtly but constantly rocking with the waves, which complicates targeting and firing.
“Revelations” strips the Resident Evil game experience back down to its chassis. Ammunition and healing are limited, so this isn’t a sustained firefight. Instead, the game relies on creepy atmosphere and exploration punctuated by jolting moments of bloody biohazard violence.
3rd-person shooter model
The movement and control schemes are updated to the standard third-person shooter model – over-the-shoulder camera and gun reticule aiming. The game adds a new element with the Genesis device, a handheld scanner that is used to detect hidden items in the environment. The mapping, inventory and healing systems are a study in minimalism, which serves the game well. You might say the whole enterprise is dead simple.
Story and dialogue have never been strong suits in the “Resident Evil” franchise, but here the nonsense jargon is kept to a minimum and the overall plot is reasonably coherent. The eighth-grade sexism gets tiresome, but I suppose that’s part of the franchise fingerprint as well.
Creature design isn’t particularly compelling. The mutated creatures are all variations on an icky theme, and they’re dumb as a box of – well, a box of zombies, I suppose. The game has three difficulty levels plus an ultra-hardcore mode that’s unlocked at the end of the game. Multiplayer options include a Raid Mode for online two-person co-op.
“Resident Evil: Revelations HD” is a lot of fun for fans of the series, or the survival horror genre in general. New players should be able to wade right in as well. The game gets the most out of its virtues by keeping things radically simple.
Also New This Week: Simian platforming with “Donkey Kong Country Returns” (3DS); reckless driving with “Fast & Furious: Showdown” (3DS, PS3, X360, WiiU); and vampire hunting with “The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing” (PC).