Handheld to console ports are a common symptom of the end of a generation; an opportunity for publishers to squeeze a few final pennies out of an established install base while the bulk of its workforce quietly turns its attention to impending hardware. Much like MotorStorm: Arctic Edge and Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier before it, former Nintendo 3DS exclusive Resident Evil: Revelations finds itself making the awkward transition from the small screen to your colossal television – but is it up to the task?
Based on our first few hours with the game, it’s clear that The Last of Us need not worry. Capcom’s done an admirable job of converting the claustrophobic corridors of the portable instalment to the PlayStation 3, but it never looks like the title was truly intended for the console. Environments are laden with low resolution textures, while the lighting appears static compared to native releases such as Dead Space. Fortunately, the character models are stunning, with Jill Valentine’s figure-hugging wet suit looking as fetching as ever on the big screen.
For those unfamiliar with the original release, the spin-off takes place between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. It details the events shortly after the establishment of the counter-terrorism group known as the B.S.A.A., as seasoned protagonists Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield embark on a mission in pursuit of Veltro, an antagonistic organisation previously involved in a bio-organic attack on a futuristic metropolis known as Terragrigia. Typical franchise conventions apply, with romantic tension and theatrical voice acting all playing a part during our extensive hands-on.
Those frustrated by the action-centric approach of last year’s Resident Evil 6 will find lots to like about the isolated hallways of the Queen Zenobia, a colossal cruise ship where much of the action takes place. Playing as Jill Valentine – and, later, Chris Redfield, alongside a handful of throwaway newcomers – you’ll find yourself scavenging for ammo and picking off enemies, making sure that you maintain a steady aim in order to not waste any precious bullets. The sense of tension is exceptional at times, with the confined hallways and restricted resources forcing you to get creative with your combat options. One sequence sees you dodging past an approaching mutant and shoving its head into a nearby television, buying you time to hack a nearby control panel while you search for your weapons.
The core action feels reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, but there are a few new additions to keep things interesting. Early on into the campaign you’ll obtain access to the Genesis, a scanning tool that allows you to collect data on foes. Building up a profile on mutants – which takes multiple scans – rewards you with a Green Herb, but you can also use the tool to discover hidden items buried in the various environments. These range from ammunition, to keys, to points of interest that flesh out the back story and add context to some of the characters that you’ll encounter.
You can also upgrade your weapons with parts that you locate in the world. Attaching different components augments your firearms with various enhancements, such as improved fire-rate, stopping power, or damage. Many of these items can be attached to multiple types of weapon, so you’ll need to spend time mixing and matching to happen upon the best loadouts.
The game is divided into episodes, of which we got to play the first six. Each instalment is prefaced with a recap video, a feature which further highlights the title’s handheld origins. Upon completing each stage, you’ll be ranked based on your accuracy and speed, with a single sequence lasting around 30 minutes. There are twelve chapters in total, with the re-release bolstered by an additional difficulty level named ‘Infernal’. We didn’t get a chance to test this out, but it promises randomised enemy and item placements to completely overhaul the experience.
Outside of the single player component, the title also boasts a co-operative option named Raid Mode. This can be played with a friend over the PlayStation Network or alone if you prefer. Essentially, these are short linear missions based on the main campaign, in which you must pick off enemies in order to earn points and rank up. Any points that you obtain can be spent on new weapons and perks, allowing you to gradually build up your character. It’s a nice twist on the traditional Mercenaries Mode, but we’re not convinced that the lure of new weapons and items will keep you engaged quite as long as Capcom hopes.
Still, with an overly dramatic plotline and some old-fashioned tension inspired by the classic Resident Evil titles, Revelations is shaping up to be a solid addition to the PS3’s survival horror catalogue – even if it is an enhanced handheld game. The narrative is as ostentatious as ever, while the added Raid Mode promises some mindless arcade action. It certainly doesn’t have the visual punch of a native console release, but it doesn’t look poor by any stretch of the imagination. Having only just dipped our toes into the adventure, we’re looking forward to taking a full plunge later in the year.
Are you excited for the PS3 port of Resident Evil: Revelations? Did you play the Nintendo 3DS version? Let us know in the comments section below.