2012’s Resident Evil: Revelations was a breath of fresh air for survival horror fans who have become frustrated by the direction Resident Evil has taken in recent years. Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Resident Evil 6, and even the first 3DS Resident Evil title, Mercenaries 3D, have shifted the focus of the series from creepy exploration and survival with limited resources to standard third person shooter run-and-gun scenarios. Amid those releases, though, Revelations for the 3DS managed to bring back a feeling much closer to the original Resident Evil games, creating a hybrid of shooter and survival horror that harkened back to Resident Evil 4 and the add-on Lost in Nightmares mission for Resident Evil 5. The game became a hit for the 3DS and a reason for many disillusioned owners of Nintendo’s newest handheld to think twice about ditching the system. Now, in 2013, Revelations is no longer a 3DS exclusive, negating some of that impetus for keeping the handheld, but the 3DS’s loss a definite gain for Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and – to a greater extent – Wii U owners. But should you upgrade if you have already played the game? And if you do, does the Wii U’s dual-screen gameplay recreate the 3DS experience enough to make it the version gamers should choose?
Same Game with Twists
Players of the 3DS version will find that the game itself has not been substantially changed. The story, which takes place between Resident Evil 4 and the Lost in Nightmares DLC from Resident Evil 5, puts Jill Valentine and new partner Parker Luciani aboard a derelict ship carrying the results of a new bioweapon outbreak: the T-Abyss virus, which, instead of creating zombies, creates strange creatures known as Ooze (which are, compared to the enemies of other RE games, pretty disappointing in design). Chris Redfield and his new partner, Jessica Sherawat, seek to find and rescue Jill and Parker, while another duo, Keith Lumley and Quint Cetcham, seek out answers to assist both teams in their missions. You play as members of all three teams at different points in the tale. The game plays out through 12 multi-part episodes, each of which begins with a “Previously on Resident Evil: Revelations” video that helps provide momentum and gives the game a sense of style reminiscent of Alan Wake. Cutscenes, flashback segments (that you actually play, rather than watch), and such weave a complicated conspiracy tale that has more depth than most Resident Evil fare. Between the normal campaign and the co-op Raid Mode, very little has changed here, except for some placement of enemies and items, along with some minor new enemy types. However, the available Infernal difficulty mode changes things up and adds enough new challenges to allow for quite a bit of replay value for hardcore players who plan to upgrade from the 3DS to an HD console.
From Two Screens to One
The biggest gameplay changes to Revelations come from the need to take a game that was originally played on the 3DS with one regular screen and one touchscreen into something that can be played on a single television screen, while allowing it to be controlled by the dual-analog sticks and greater number of buttons found on the HD consoles’ controllers. The original 3DS game featured third person movement through the environment on the top screen, with the bottom of that screen usually staying uncluttered by indicators except for remaining ammunition. Your map, weapons, and items were all controlled via a crammed-but-functional touchscreen display with weapons running along the top, items running along the side, and the map taking over the rest of the screen. (With all the backtracking done in this game, you will need the map.) When drawing your weapon to fire in the 3DS version, the default setting sends you into a first-person mode from behind the weapon (which is in the center of the screen) for more accurate shooting on a small screen. You can choose a third-person perspective, but it is not the “normal” way to play. On the single-screen display used for the PS3, Xbox 360, and in two (of three) modes for the Wii U version, first-person viewing is no longer an option, as the game sticks with third-person throughout. Your selected weapon (and the other weapons you have equipped), along with your remaining ammo, is now displayed on the bottom right corner of the screen, while your secondary weapons (like grenades) are displayed on the bottom left briefly when selected. A 2D version of the map is displayed in the top right corner, orienting as you move, while a more detailed 3D map can be brought up within the game’s menus. This setup works well, and while not quite as convenient in some aspects (due to not having a second screen with a touch interface available), it makes the game feel similar to recent entries in the series. Moreover, the ability to use two analog sticks without needing a Circle Pad Pro attachment for the 3DS, plus the dedication of one shoulder button to the Genesis scanner, rather than having to swap to and from the device like any other item, are welcome tweaks to make gameplay smoother. That, however, is only part of the story when it comes to HD gameplay options . . .
How the Wii U Comes Out on Top
The Wii U version of Revelations offers three different viewing options. The first two are identical to gameplay on the PS3 or Xbox 360: everything is displayed on a single screen. The Wii U, however, offers a bit more versatility, since that single-screen gameplay can be shown on the television screen or on the Gamepad itself, freeing players from the TV. More interestingly, the other viewing mode is an improved variant of the 3DS gaming mode with two screens. The TV acts as the top 3DS screen in that it shows all of the game’s action with minimal HUD items, allowing players to take in the action without overlays (similar to Dead Space). The Gamepad acts as the touchscreen on the 3DS, displaying your map, weapons, items, etc. However, with the Gamepad screen being larger than the 3DS screen, the layout has changed to be more comfortable. The map takes up the bulk of the screen’s middle section, while health items are accessible by tapping directly below it. Weapon options now run down the right side of the touchscreen, while secondary item options run along the left, with both of these columns being within easy reach of the player’s thumbs.
If you have never played Resident Evil: Revelations, and you are a fan of the series or the survivor horror genre, you should definitely check out the game on any platform. If you are looking for the best HD platform for playing Revelations, the benefits provided by the Gamepad make the Wii U version the definitive edition of this solid Resident Evil title.