Porting console games onto handheld systems is pretty common, going all the way back to the Gameboy. But upgrading a handheld title to a console? That doesn’t happen every day. Yet, that’s what Capcom decided to do with Resident Evil: Revelations and it’s easy to see why. The title is easily one of the best to ever appear on the 3DS, pushing the graphics as far as that little system can handle and serving up a game so big that a special XL 3DS cartridge had to be specially designed to contain it. The game was so strong that reviewers such as myself claimed it was a console worthy experience available in the palm of your hand. Well, the good folks at Capcom decided to test that theory and now Resident Evil Revelations is available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and the Wii U. The results are actually pleasantly surprising. Obviously, it’s not perfect. That would have required a complete overhaul in certain areas that Capcom didn’t do. This is the 3DS game with spiffed up graphics and if you don’t have a 3DS it’s definitely worth a look since this is one of the best chapters in the franchise this generation.
I won’t bother getting into plot details since this is a Resident Evil game and it’s therefore ridiculous, convoluted, and laughable. However, that’s part of the charm of the series at this point. You play Resident Evil games for the top flight scares and design, while the silly plots and lines like “Me and my sweet ass are on the way” (actual line in Revelations) add a little bonus comedy value. The game takes place between Resident Evil 4 and 5 and returns the series to its survival horror roots…for the most part. The bulk of the game is played as Jill Valentine on a creepy virus-infected cruise ship called The Queen Zenobia. It’s been beautifully designed, filled with shadows and pockets of light along with plenty of monsters and loud jump scare level changes that make exploring the ship feel like a walk through a haunted house. It’s arguably the best setting for an RE title since the Arklay mansion of the original and just like that game you’ll be constantly concerned about having enough ammo to deal with enemies who just won’t quit. At least that’s true at first, towards the end the guns are so powerful and enemies so plentiful that it turns into an action/horror title like recent RE titles and along the way you’ll play side quests that set up that action-focused style of gameplay. While some gamers might complain that the game should have focused on either action or survival horror, I liked the mix and felt it offered the best of all Resident Evil games in a single package.
There’s also the usual Raid Mode, which fans of the series of come to know and love (or at least tolerate. In addition to the main story, you can simply dive into this mode at any time for quick blasts of monster killin’ action without all that story and suspense to distract you. Raid mode can be played single player or through online multiplayer and is a points-based shoot em’ up with a variety of playable characters from the franchise and familiar stages from Revelations and others. It’s not so satisfying an experience that it could stand on its own, but combined with the fantastic 10-hour story it makes this game a robust package filled with replay value. However, I’d imagine if you’re reading this review you either know all that or don’t care. You want to know how this handheld title works on a big ol’ HD TV. Well calm down folks, I was just about to get to that.
RE: Revelations is easily the prettiest game on the 3DS, leagues above anything else. In fact it was so good I always wondered if Capcom planned for ports and clearly I now have my answer. The HD upgrade is smooth and pretty. Now, if this had been designed purely for the HD consoles it might feel like a bit of a graphical letdown, but as a port, it looks damn good. It essentially looks the same as the 3DS version, just with added detail for screens about 100X larger than the tiny 3DS. Character models look absolutely beautiful as do most stages. Occasionally textures can be flat and grainy, which is to be expected from a game designed for such a small screen blown up so large. The strangest thing about playing it on a TV is how oversized everything appears. Characters were large on the screen and levels laid out to be big and open on the 3DS to compensate for the small screen. On a TV everything can feel a little awkwardly large compared to the usual console game designs, but that’s not anything particularly wrong with this version. It’s just a bit jarring at first. Animation is fairly smooth for the most part, but occasionally characters hands can slip through walls or other bugs pop up when small moments meant to be barely visible are now blown up to the size of the original screen.
The game also retains the handheld’s 12-chapter structure which broke the story down into 15-20 minute chunks made for portable gaming. I was initially concerned that would feel strange on the console version, but it’s fine and the “previously on” montages that play before each chapter remain a hoot. Oddly the loading screens for both the cut scenes and levels are as long as they were on the 3DS, which feels like an oversight given how powerful the consoles are, but that’s a minor annoyance at most. Personally, the biggest let down of the console version is to do with controls. Aiming can feel a bit fast and jumpy now that the screen size has expanded and the 3DS’ brilliant use of the second screen for constant map display and instant access to weapons/items obviously isn’t an option. Now pausing to access those things isn’t a big deal and is even a staple of the franchise, but it does slow down the gameplay a tiny bit and was much missed (this obviously isn’t a factor on the Wii U where the tablet touch screen replicates all of the 3DS touch screen functions). Other problems in translation that should have been addressed include the limited number of enemy designs and the absolutely brutal partner AI (they stand in a corner, shoot at noting for ten seconds, and repeat). These two issues could and should have been updated for this version since they are far less forgivable on a console, but Capcom clearly wanted this to be a streamlined 100% port and they stuck to their guns.
Playing through Resident Evil: Revelations again, it really does feel like one of the better chapters in this franchise that will clearly never end (and nor should it). The mix of ammo hoarding survival horror and Rambo-style action shoot em’ ups works quite well and satisfyingly offers all things to all Resident Evil fans. As far as the port goes, all of my complains are of the whiny nitpick variety. If this were an original game design for the PS3 and Xbox 360, it would feel like there are major design faults that are unforgivable. However, as a 3DS-to-console port, it’s a shock that more problems didn’t come up in translation. If you’ve played and loved the 3DS version of this game, there’s really no point in investing in it again as that remains the ideal system to play Revelations. However, if you’re some crazy person who refuses to acknowledge the pure joy the 3DS provides, then this is an excellent way to experience a rather brilliant entry in the RE cycle that you would have missed otherwise. A few bells n’ whistles to make this release unique would have been nice, but as a straight up port this sucker gets the job done. For better or worse this is Resident Evil: Revelations for HD TVs. If you like shooting monsters in the dark, you just found 10 hours of bliss.