Resident Evil: Revelations is fine piece of RE canon, and one of the best action games on the 3DS. More importantly, it's a strong indicator of where Capcom is headed with their next big entry in the series, Resident Evil 6. Everybody has analyzed the RE 6 trailer, embedded below, but let's see what this handheld title can tell us about Resident Evil's future.
1. Multiple characters, multiple play styles
Revelations' story jumps between characters, locations and timelines like a Tarantino movie with ADD. It makes for a big, fun cast and intriguing moments of backstory, but it also allows for numerous shifts in gameplay. The portions with Jill running around the decks of the Queen Zenobia feel like old school Resident Evil. The player navigates dim corridors, desperately trying to bring down the horrors that lurk there with limited ammo. The game switches between these sequences to ones starring Chris, Parker, and other characters that are much more action-packed, with bigger guns, more ammo and hordes of enemies. As in Resident Evil 4 & 5, combat becomes an exercise in crowd control rather than ammo conservation.
Things get hairy fast as Chris
It's sort of a noble compromise on the part of Capcom. The die hard fans get the classic survival horror gameplay they've been clamoring for, but there's enough run and gun action to attract the fans of RE 4 & 5, not to mention the Call of Duty crowd Capcom has said it's gunning for. Revelations pulls it off really well. The switch between creeping dread and pulse-quickening action makes for delightful pacing.
Above: Your typical zombified policeman
It's more than likely Resident Evil 6 will adopt this structure, especially since the game's trailer has shown us more than one protagonist. We've also seen multiple types of enemies: the trudging old school zombies, rabid leaping infected, and gun-toting terrorists. This mix of styles is what makes Revelations so satisfying, Capcom should no have no trouble adapting it for our HDTVs.
And a flesh-eating crackhead
2. A streamlined inventory
Above: Ah RE 4's inventory, how you've been missed
When Resident Evil 5 debuted, one of the biggest complaints from critics and the community was the inventory. The game no longer paused so you could tweak your gear, and you could easily get killed while selecting a grenade or dropping a useless rotten egg from your inventory. Several of Revelations' features seem designed in response to this. First, thanks to the 3DS's touch screen as inventory, your gear is always at your fingertips. Second, you can swing your knife or toss a grenade with the press of a button, and it's simple to switch between the two. Lastly, healing herbs are also just one button press away, so no more dying while you desperately try to select them.
A marked improvement
Obviously RE 6's inventory won't be just like this, the PS3 and Xbox 360 don't have a touch screen, but Capcom has definitely heard the players on this one. Expect a more efficient inventory, maybe a grenade slot, and some sort of streamlined approach to healing.
3. Moving while aiming and more
RE 4 may have introduced the over-the-shoulder aiming style, but it was RE 5 that really brought the series into shooter territory. It was an unabashedly action oriented game, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it did place the series amongst some truly stiff competition. In the post Gears of War gaming landscape, a third-person shooter with a limited cover system, difficult weapon selection, and restricted movement is setting itself up for criticism.
Since then, we've seen Capcom loosen up a bit with the game's controls. In Mercenaries and Revelations, both of the series' 3DS titles, we've been granted the ability to move while aiming. Most importantly, Revelations added dodging: move at just the right moment and you'll nimbly evade an enemy's attack. This is not a first for the series since RE 3 had a similar feature. Capcom must be bringing it back in response to players who are tired of getting killed for every poorly timed reload or misjudged melee attack. It could also eliminate the need for quicktime events, with their out of nowhere on-screen cues.
4. A new kind of partner
Another big frustration with RE 5 was your partner, Sheva. Sure she looked good in a tank top and combat boots, but her AI could be pretty terrible. She'd waste healing items, make ludicrous weapon choices, and just plain get killed a lot. She was more of a liability than Ashley in RE 4, and that girl didn't even carry a gun!
In Revelations, you often have a partner, but they never get in the way. In fact, they don't do much more than provide conversation. They don't pick up ammo, they don't use your healing items, and they don't make you start over because they got killed. While it's doubtful that there will be an entirely inconsequential approach to partners in RE 6, it's a sign of lessons learned. In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if RE 6 had two kinds of partners: an unarmed character you escort a la RE 4's Ashley, and an armed partner who provides backup like Sheva. Bottom line, Capcom has realized you can't hand the player game overs just because the AI dummy you've saddled him with keeps walking into the monster's jaws.
It's looking like Ashley could be back in RE 6
5. Upgrading upgrades
As Penny Arcade has pointed out, merchants and money never quite made sense in the RE universe. All manner of bio-engineered hell beast are beating down the door, and you're gonna charge to upgrade my pistol? RE 5 did away with the merchant character, but still had you dropping coin on weapon upgrades. Revelations, however, tossed it all out and had you picking up spare parts to customize your guns. This made a lot more sense, and makes for a much more forgiving approach to upgrades, since you can recycle the parts from a gun you no longer use.
Everyone's favorite opportunist won't be back
Weapon upgrades won't be going away, of course, but they're in for a change. If Revelations is any indication, we'll be looking at either a system of interchangeable upgrade parts, or some sort of perk system linked to experience, as in Raid mode.
6. Mercenaries mode is due for a kick in the ass
Everybody loves a good RE yarn, but it's the ultra-replayable Mercenaries mode that keeps us coming back. Revelations was no different: good campaign, but the true meat of the game may be Raid mode, the RPG-style counter-point to Mercenaries' frantic time trial approach.
What sort of replayable mode(s) will RE 6 feature? Will we see some sort of Mercenaries/Raid hybrid? Or will they be two separate game types? All we know for sure is that Mercenaries is due for a shake up. We would bet on upgradeable weapons, customizable arsenals, and co-op for more than two players.
With Revelations out now, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6 due in March and November respectively, we're getting a hell of a lot of RE this year. We covered the RE 6 Xbox timed exclusive demo controversy, so stay tuned to Gaming Target for all the latest.
What do YOU think is in store for the Resident Evil series? Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, or with a comment below. Enlighten us with your insights!