The 3DS might seem like an odd choice for a return to form for the Resident Evil series, but it certainly feels like that was Revelations intention. It’s been a while since an RE title has captured the feeling of the original PS1 Resident Evil, but the horror filled hallways of the abandoned Queen Zenobia luxury liner certainly evoke a similar sense of danger that the original mansion of the first RE captured quite nicely.
This game is tense! Seriously, I was of the mind that it’d be difficult to make a portable game even remotely scary, but I found myself clenching my teeth a number of times as I walked slowly around unknown corners or entered a new space on the map. It doesn’t help that the sound design for the game is excellent, the Zenobia constantly gives off little atmospheric noises that make you second guess your current level of safety.
The only thing that didn’t work for me was the lackluster enemy design. The bosses are generally well done, but the new, run of the mill “ooze” enemies are kind of bland in my opinion. The first half of the game features a lot of these sluggish, grey monstrosities, and once you get the dodge function down they tend to pose little threat. The challenge only comes when you come across an area that involves them swarming in on you, and even then you can generally find a safe spot to back up against, and just blast away at them.
The controls feel pretty spot on to Resident Evil 4, and I played through the entire game without the benefit of a Circle Pad Pro, the new accessory that Resident Evil Revelations can make use of. With just the single slide pad for movement the camera follows closely behind your character, but you can still perform quick 180 turns, and you don’t really seem to be hindered without the use of a second slide pad. Even aiming feels pretty good, and you can opt between a traditional third person view and a zoomed in first person perspective.
The plot takes place between Resident Evil 4 and 5, and features Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield as returning characters. There are a number of new guys and girls as well, none of which really stick with you as much as the original cast though.
The game is divided into a series of episodes, but once you clear episode 2 it’s pretty clear that Jill’s section provides the real meat of the game, and that the Zenobia is more of a traditional RE experience than the action-heavy sections that Chris’ part provides.
Besides the main campaign, there’s also the inclusion of a Raid mode, which opens up after you complete episode 3. Raid mode is kind of like Mercenary mode in other RE titles, but has some definite differences. It’s not so much timed and about chaining kills, as much as it is about just clearing stages. It does benefit from online co-op, which is a huge plus. It also provides a more interesting challenge, and a number of neat unlocks.
Visually the game is outstanding, and will make you second guess what the 3DS is capable of doing. I was pretty awe-struck when I first powered it up, and remained in that state throughout. My only real complaint is that having the 3D on full blast tends to create an unfortunate ghosting effect, but I’ll give Capcom credit for introducing independent 3D controls that really allow you to fine-tune that element outside of the slider on the system.
One other minor thing worth mentioning is that the game visually stalls out when entering certain areas, usually when riding in an elevator or moving through a particular type of door. There’s obviously some loading going on that causes that stuttering effect, similar to opening up a door in the Metroid Prime games.
Despite a small number of extremely minor flaws, Resident Evil Revelations is an excellent attempt at bringing the RE series to handhelds. In fact, you could make the argument that it’s a better RE game than even the last console title in the series. It certainly feels more traditional than the action heavy Resident Evil 5, and I think that a lot of fans that were put off by that entry might find themselves enamored with how old-school Revelations feels. Coming from someone who actually loved RE5, I still find myself really happy with this back to basics approach.
I definitely suggest picking this up for all 3DS owners out there, and die-hard Resident Evil fans should be on top of this game day one. It’s a really solid entry in the series, and while it might only be a stop-gap between the two main titles, it certainly plays like a full-fledged Resident Evil game throughout.