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'Resident Evil Revelations Collection’ review: Fear the past

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent
The “Resident Evil” franchise arrives on the Switch just nine months after the popular hybrid console launched. But is it any good?

It’s been a great year for Nintendo (NTDOY) Switch owners. Just nine months after the console’s launch, there’s already a wide selection of games to play ranging from more family-friendly fare — “Super Mario Odyssey,” “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle” — to mature titles like “Doom.” And come Tuesday, they can add one more title to their quickly growing pile with “Resident Evil Revelations Collection.”

This latest addition to the popular “Resident Evil” franchise isn’t a new game, but an anthology that packages up two older games for $39.99. (Developer Capcom is also releasing both titles separately for $19.99 each.)

Resident Evil: Revelations” originally debuted on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld console in 2012 before it was also brought over to a whole slew of older and current-generation consoles, including the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year. The same goes for “Resident Evil: Revelations 2,” which was released three years later on multiple consoles, as well as Sony’s under-appreciated portable, the PlayStation Vita.

But this two-for-one deal is hurt by “Revelations 1’s” outdated gameplay.

Standing the test of time? Not so much.

Resident Evil: Revelations 1 looks fine from far away, but up close? It’s muddy and blurry. Source: Capcom

Some games stand the test of time, but many others? Not so much. In this case, time hasn’t been so kind to “Revelations 1,” whose roots as a 3DS title are obvious with nearly every twist and turn. Playing as either of two longtime franchise fan favorites — Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield — most of your time is spent trapped aboard a derelict ship infested with zombie-like monsters ready to pounce on you.

It’s a really familiar concept, and while the plot is fairly compelling stuff, the game is hobbled by simple, muddy graphics. Much of the time, you’re lurking around dark, tight corridors and box-shaped rooms, which gets visually monotonous. Valentine and Redfield look good enough by say, PlayStation 3 standards, but walk up to a wall or item, and the visuals really show their age.

Another pet-peeve? Characters move too slowly. “Running” is really more of a quick saunter — meaning that getting from Point A to Point B takes way longer than it should. That was fine when the first “Resident Evil” hit the scene all the way back in 1996, but on the Switch, where you’re more likely to play “Revelations 1” in shorter 20-minute bursts on the go, it just feels tedious, creaky and unnecessary. 

I also took issue with some of the awkward dialogue in “Revelations 1.” “Resident Evil” dialogue has always had a distinct B-level horror movie feel, which yielded some real corny gems over the years. (Remember when Jill was referred to as the “master of unlocking” years ago?) But in “Revelations 1,” it borders on sexist. Redfield’s partner, a caucasian woman sporting purple tights who cavorts around, spewing lines like, “Let me get my fine a** down there,” comes across like a two-dimensional objectified prop more than anything else.

A better sequel

“Resident Evil: Revelations 2” fares a lot better, with sharper, more detailed graphics and better gameplay. Source: Capcom

“Revelations 2” fares much better on nearly all fronts.

The game’s female leads — Claire Redfield and Moira Burton — are fierce, independent and have better lines (even if Moira seems to curse a lot just because she apparently can). The graphics, from the strands of hair on the characters to the grime on the walls and ceilings are also more detailed than “Revelations 1,” which makes it feel more immersive, whether you’re playing it on a train or docked to your television.

“Revelations 2” also includes a buddy system that puts you on teams, where you’re forced to switch between two characters at a time to successfully get through a level and nab all the loot. The system forces you to think more imaginatively about how to escape your surroundings and gives the gameplay more variety. It’s a testament to Capcom that the buddy system still feels pretty interesting in 2017, even though several “Resident Evil” titles have now used it in some way, shape or form.

Should you get it

“Resident Evil Revelations Collection” is sort of a confounding release. The games are already available on just about any other game console that’s been released in the last five years, and neither game here has received a significant facelift for the Switch. That’s fine for “Revelations 2,” which holds up well, but “Revelations 1” looks and feels really dated, especially when you compare them to more ambitious games that were ported to the Switch such as “Doom.”  

But if you’re a diehard fan of the franchise who wants to take your zombie-shooting thrills virtually anywhere you go — as familiar as those shenanigans may already be — give this collection a look. 

What’s hot: Two portable “Resident Evil” titles in one package; Some knuckle-biting moments; “Revelations 2”’s graphics hold up well;

What’s not: “Revelations 1’s” graphics are blocky and muddy; Awkward dialogue in “Revelations 1” occasionally borders on sexist; Moving in “Revelations” is slow and tedious. 

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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