Resident Evil: Revelations 2 PS Vita Review: horror in your hands

Released earlier this year, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 proved to be a stellar contribution to the venerable horror franchise, and indeed a fine step in the right direction after the disappointing Resident Evil 6. Featuring two unique campaigns packed full of gore, guns and shambling monstrosities, Revelations 2 also reintroduced two fan-favorite characters in the shape of Claire Redfield and Barry Burton, who haven’t appeared canonically in over a decade. With all this going for it, Capcom’s latest zombie-blasting effort should have been a perfect fit for PlayStation Vita. After all, the bite-sized structure of each chapter fits snugly into the pick-up-and-play philosophy behind many PS Vita titles. It’s a crushing shame, then, that I discovered the transition from console to Sony’s handheld hasn’t exactly gone as smoothly as it should have. In fact, it’s a bit of a dog’s dinner.

Set between Resi 5 and 6, Revelations 2 takes place on a spooky Island complete with all the quintessential elements of any decent B-movie horror: blood-thirsty creatures, unscrupulous scientists, labs, abandoned towns and plenty of shock value. You flip between Claire and Barry, each with their own partner in Moira Burton and the mysterious Natalia, respectively, as you explore locations, solving riddles and blasting a diverse and grotesque array of bio-weapons with an ever-increasing arsenal of firepower. For a comprehensive look at the mechanics behind Revelations 2, we’d like to point you to our Resident Evil: Revelations 2 hub that links directly to each individual episode of the game. Suffice to say though, this is the same game you played on PS3 or PS4, which we found to be a winning formula.

As for this latest version, the problem doesn’t lie with the core elements, but rather, the poor condition in which it arrives on PS Vita. Having beat the game on PS4 all the way through, I was shocked to see just how ropey the portable version plays. For starters, the frame rate is conspicuously horrible from the get-go; even during quieter moments it chugs along like an old banger, making headshots incredibly difficult. The problem is only exacerbated when you get into encounters with multiple enemies—which isn’t that uncommon—where the game stutters so badly it becomes difficult to play, let alone score a critical shot. Yes, you get used to it (or rather, learn to put up with it), but there’s no denying that it makes Revelations 2 an often frustrating experience. 

Graphically, there’s been a noticeable downgrade. Sure, Revelations 2 was never the best-looking game on PS4, but it looked suitably polished and smooth, with some decent effects thrown in here and there. On PS Vita however, textures are noticeably muddier, with some parts of the environment looking like cardboard cutouts from a PS2-era game; these incongruous moments really shatter any immersion built up and look downright hideous to boot. Character models fare a lot better however, and are among the better-looking aspects of the game, and the locations still manage to prove suitably atmospheric in places. Overall though, it’s not the prettiest game on Sony’s handheld, and juxtaposed with the PS4 edition, looks disappointingly washed out. The sound effects are also inexplicably muffled too, which doesn’t help matters, and the loading times are equally frustrating. 

New to this version are various touchscreen controls that you’ll use to crouch, equip sub-weapons, turn on your flashlight or use healing herbs. These are typically performed by hitting a certain corner of the touchscreen. However, they feel unnecessary and counter-intuitive, particularly when you are in the middle of a fight and have to fumble around for that potentially live-saving herb or explosive bottle.

Revelations 2 still offers a lot of bang for your buck on PS Vita if you can forgive its shortcomings. There’s the main campaign for starters, which as with the PS4 release, offers plenty of thrilling combat and puzzle solving, not to mention two different endings to unlock. Then there’s the brilliant Raid Mode which is just as addictive as it was on consoles, with heaps of characters, stages and weapons to unlock as you blast through waves of shuffling mutations hell bent on decorating the walls with your innards. While there’s no co-op for the main story, you can still play with a mate in Raid Mode, making things even more rewarding as you team up and strategically dispatch the zombified hordes. 

Overall, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is solid from a gameplay perspective, as it packs everything from the console release into one portable package. However, its treatment on PS Vita is pretty disappointing, and the dodgy frame rate, washed out visuals and poor touchscreen controls mean this isn’t really worth picking up unless you don’t have any other means of playing the game. Stick to the PS3/PS4 version.

Score

6.5

The Final Word

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 on PS Vita is a flawed port that only comes recommended if it’s your sole option of playing the game.