Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Steam, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, 3DS, Vita (Switch version reviewed)
That may not always seem like a good thing: after all, the Xbox One and PS4 were criticised in their early days for having their libraries artificially increased with enhanced ports of previous gen games.
It feels different on the Switch, though. Its handheld capability means fans of games like Doom, Skyrim and LA Noire are happy to re-buy their old games on Nintendo’s system, the addition of portability appealing more than better textures or frame rate.
The Resident Evil Revelations games don’t get to use this ‘novelty’ as a selling point. The first made its debut as a handheld game, enjoying 3DS exclusivity for a year and a half – while its sequel was released on the PlayStation Vita.
Both have already had the handheld treatment, then, but it’s fair to say the Switch version blows the 3DS’s low resolution and the Vita’s low-poly visuals and poor frame rate out of the water.
For the sake of those who may not be familiar with the Revelations series, let me summarise each game first before talking about the Switch version specifically.
Resident Evil Revelations
The first Revelations debuted as a 3DS exclusive in early 2012 and delivered on a promise to bring back the slower, more tense survival horror experience seen in older Resident Evil games (as opposed to the more action-focused Resi 5 and 6).
It tells the story of Veltro, a bioterrorist group so unhappy with a city’s decision to power itself entirely with solar power that it unleashes chemical weapons and killer mutants on the population. Could’ve just started a petition instead, I suppose.
Veltro is defeated but a year later, Resi stalwart Chris Redfield and special agent Jessica Sherawat are sent to investigate reports that it’s back. They disappear in the process.
The game opens, then, with Jill Valentine and new partner Parker Luicani (aka Fake Fat Kurt Russell) heading to their last known location to try and find them.
It just so happens that said location is the Queen Zenobia, a big bastard of a boat teeming with monsters. That’s what happens when you book your cruise with Thomas Cook.
What happens next? Well, if you don’t know I’m not going to tell you. You have to do some things for yourself you know, muggins here isn’t going to do everyth… um, sorry.
The main game takes around 10 hours to beat and does a great job of balancing suspense and action. If you’re a die-hard fan of either you may be frustrated that it doesn’t swing heavy enough in its favour, but for everyone else it’s a great mixture of quiet, tense scenes and balls-out gunplay.
Speaking of the latter, Revelations also comes with Raid Mode, a more action-based mode in which players choose a character (more are unlocked as you play the main game), assign them a weapon set and then blast their way through set areas to earn experience and battle points which can then be spent on new items.
Raid Mode is great fun to play in short bursts. It’s clear why it was included in the original 3DS release: its shorter nature makes it ideal for 5 or 10 minute blasts on the bus, a quality that returns for the Switch version.
Resident Evil Revelations 2
Revelations was received well enough to warrant a sequel, which launched on consoles (and the Vita) in 2015.
With the second game, Capcom decided to capitalise on the ‘episodic’ trend that was taking off at the time – thanks to the likes of Telltale’s games and Life Is Strange – by splitting Revelations 2 into four separate episodes.
These mainly follow Claire Redfield (of Resi 2 and Code Veronica fame), who’s working for a biohazard prevention agency alongside Resi legend Barry Burton’s daughter Moira. Both are kidnapped and taken to a prison facility on an island, and that’s where the game begins.
Like its predecessor, Revelations 2 offers a mix of suspense and action, and once again focuses on partnerships: the entire game is played with two characters throughout.
This is further enforced with the introduction of a two-player co-op mode, allowing both characters to be controlled at the same time.
With a similar length to the first game, Revelations 2 is another brilliant burst of Resi goodness and well worth a look for fans of the older games in the series.
Its Raid Mode is also far more detailed than that of the first game. The level of customisation you can go into when sorting your character’s weapons loadout is daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it you’ll get addicted to it.
The Switch ports
So that’s your brief overview of both games for those who weren’t already aware of them. How do the Switch versions stack up? Pretty well, actually.
The first Revelations is based on the HD remakes released on consoles the year after the 3DS version. The display is sharp and it runs at an unlocked frame rate which is usually a solid 60 in both handheld and docked mode, except for moments of carnage where it drops a little.
The second game, meanwhile, was built from the ground up for consoles and is a more detailed game as a result. As such, while the Switch version still looks the part in terms of detail, its frame rate has dropped to a locked 30fps. Still perfectly playable, of course.
All the DLC and extra content that was released by Capcom is present and accounted for here. That means the two bonus episodes in Revelations 2, the daft alternate costumes, and the extra Raid Mode characters and weapons.
That Revelations 2 co-op mode is also present, allowing both players to play together on the same screen (a split-screen effect kicks in).
While it’s possible to play this with each player using a single Joy-Con on its side, this can take a little getting used to because you only have one stick: you have to hold the SR shoulder button to move the camera.
Thankfully, if you have the extra resources to hand, there’s the option to instead assign each player a Pro Controller or Joy-Con Grip, giving proper twin-stick controls.
Speaking of the Joy-Con, both games also include motion controls. If you’re playing with a Joy-Con in each hand, you can use the right Joy-Con’s motion to aim your shots and slash your knife.
This essentially mirrors the control system of the Wii version of Resident Evil 4, which many believe is the best because of the accuracy it gives you. Headshots are much easier to pull off with this control method, making it massively satisfying.
Finally, as an extra bonus, each game has a hidden mini-game exclusive to the Switch. Revelations 1 has a fairly rubbish shooting gallery, but Revelations 2 has a lovely homage to Ghouls ‘N Ghosts called Ghouls ‘N Homunculi, starring Barry Burton instead of Arthur.
Worth a double-dip if you already have both games, then? Well, to be honest, that really depends on how much you love them.
This is clearly a release that’s first and foremost designed for people who haven’t gotten round to playing the Revelations games. If you’re a Resi fan but have skipped either of these to date, this is as good an occasion as any to remedy that.
Granted, the Xbox One and PS4 versions look better – most notably with Revelations 2 and its 30fps frame rate on Switch – but the Switch’s Joy-Con option genuinely makes them among the best home versions in terms of control, while its handheld oomph means it kicks seven lumps of fuck out of the 3DS and Vita versions.
Depending on where your priorities lie, then, these just might be the definitive versions of each game on any system.
Resident Evil Revelations 1 and 2 are out now on Switch, priced £15.99/$19.99 and £19.99/$19.99 respectively on the Switch eShop. Both games also have a physical release in the US under the name Resident Evil Revelations Collection: if you’re a UK gamer and desperately want this you can import it from Amazon UK but be aware that only the first game is on the cartridge: you have to download the second game and this may only be possible if you set up a US account.
In order that I could write this review, I received free copies of both games from a PR. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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