Switch’s Resident Evil Revelations is best played in mobile mode

Switch ports of library titles? We’re all for them if the game is right and the quality of the port holds up. Capcom’s recently released Resident Evil Revelations collection is an interesting choice for conversion then, bringing together an improved port of Revelations 1 – which debuted on 3DS, remember – and its sequel, designed primarily with current-gen consoles in mind. So, the question is, do we get the definitive version of the original game? And does the Switch port of the sequel hold up alongside the existing releases?

First things first – as we understand it, in the EU, both titles are only available to buy separately via digital download. However, physical releases are available in the US and Japan. However, you only get the original Revelations on the actual cart. The far more impressive successor is redeemed via a digital token, and at a hefty 23GB, you need to make sure you have plenty of room available on either your internal storage or your SD card. For those buying the digital package of the complete release, the first game adds a further 13GB to the tally. Suddenly those 128GB and 200GB MicroSD cards are starting to look quite compelling.

Starting with the original release, this HD version shares a lot of elements with the original game but increases the resolution and quality of certain assets. Unfortunately, its portable nature still shines through and it’s clearly the less impressive looking game overall. You do get a native 1080p resolution when docked, dropping down to the expected 720p when running in mobile mode, providing a crisp presentation and welcome respite from the upscaled fare we’ve been looking at recently.

It still comes with many of the original’s negative points, however. All cutscenes are low resolution pre-rendered video clips that look worse than the real-time graphics and some of the presentation choices feel a little strange – like the persistence of a 720p HUD into the 1080p docked experience. The general animation and look of the game is also rather dated. Characters animation is rather simplistic, the field of view is very low, the environment looks boxy and textures possess a low resolution. And even with the bar set this low, the uncapped frame-rate still drops into mid-30s territory when really we’d hoped for a locked 60fps. Curiously, performance actually seems smoother when gaming on the go – the area where this port feels most impressive.

While Revelations 2 may be the sequel, it’s the more interesting game technically and bearing in mind the higher technical bar here imposed by Xbox One and PS4 as the target platforms, the Switch version fares surprisingly well judged by the bar set by its predecessor. There’s the same 1080p/720p resolution split in docked and mobile modes and cutbacks compared to the other current-gen machines are evident, but mostly well-judged overall.

The biggest cut is disappointing though – anti-aliasing is removed completely, certain texture elements are of a lower resolution and on top of that, Capcom has chosen to add a sharpening filter. This results in sharper looking textures but also more visible noise and shimmering. Specular highlights appear much noisier than on PS4. As for which looks better it’s really a matter of personal preference and even with this sharpening, Revelations 2 looks good on Switch, providing a general visual quality that seems nearly on par with the other releases.

Areas that have been pared back vary in terms of the hit to the presentation. For example, shadows are no longer cast by the flashlight when pointing towards specific pieces of scenery or characters. On Switch, this feature has been eliminated in pursuit of faster performance. For a horror game, this is a big loss and it does reduce the atmosphere in certain scenes.

Next, the draw distance of foliage has been significantly reduced with grass visibly popping into view as you run through the environment. When starting the second chapter, grass is completely missing on Switch and doesn’t appear until you move closer. We also noted strange loading issues where backgrounds struggled to load into memory as we ran through the environment. This is all while installed to a fast SD card. Unfortunately, due to the size of the game, it wasn’t feasible to test it on the system’s internal storage without basically deleting everything – something to consider when buying it. Still, while certain visual elements have suffered, the overall presentation is very close to the original PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game. It’s not perfect but it’s close enough.

While the graphical compromises are fairly well-judged overall, Revelations 2 retains the same wobbly performance as the first game. It attempts to reach 60fps but generally falls far below this point. Now, we’ve experienced issues with PS4 frame-rate on earlier builds of the game, but several patches on, it’s pretty solid at the target 60fps. Revelations 2 on Switch again delivers a variable experience mostly between 30fps to 60fps – it doesn’t feel great to play and we really would have preferred the option for a locked, properly frame-paced 30fps experience.

As things stand, the added judder incurred looks and feels poor in comparison to the existin versions and results in a game that feels jerkier than it should. At 30fps, we’d at least be looking at a very stable level of performance – though we note that the forest section can even dip beneath that threshold.

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Pyramid scheme.

In the end, bearing in mind the reduced overhead offered by the Tegra hardware, the Switch port is decent. It loses some visual fidelity and performance over the other current generation console versions but still manages to come close. We had fun with these games but the bottom line is that if you’re planning to play these games on a TV, you could do a lot better elsewhere. Revelations 2 is simply better on PS4, Xbox One and PC while Revelations 1 has a nice PC port to smooth out its issues.

However, if you’re looking for a portable experience, it’s a very reasonable package. Revelations 2 is solid for the hardware and looks great in mobile mode. Bearing in mind that the only portable alternative is the extremely disappointing PlayStation Vita version, this offers a massive night and day improvement. Meanwhile, Revelations 1 is merely competent, but again, when its only mobile rival is the original 3DS version, there’s no competition – Switch is a much more preferable proposition.