The cranky grandmother of console survival horror games has crept on to the Nintendo 3DS with Resident Evil: Revelations. With brand new territory (both the console and setting) for the series, the burning question is: how does the zombie-slaying handle on Nintendo’s latest handheld? Does it perform graphically? Do the controls translate well to a portable console? And is the story as unintentionally hilarious as Resident Evil tends to be? Well, let me tell you what I’ve found out about all that…
Revelations takes place in between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5, starting you off on a deserted cruise ship – an interesting change of pace for the series. You’re playing as Jill Valentine this time around, and without getting into greater detail I can promise the story is everything you’ve come to expect from the Resident Evil franchise. In other words, the dialogue can get downright hokey, the situation and setup is corny, and in a way that seems to make the whole game better. Really, I think it’s fair to say the entire series has been built on this kind of ‘low-budget horror flick’ concept, and I wouldn’t ask Capcom to change it even if they’d listen to me. That they manage to make the monsters scary and forboding in spite of it all is the most impressive feat.
While the plot may be unintentionally humorous, the graphics are very intentionally good. While I’ve had limited experience on the 3DS, I can say that so far this is the most graphically impressive game I’ve encountered on the device – everything from the environments to the interface to the characters and monsters are implemented beautifully on the system and wrapped up in a nice, cohesive passage. The cruise ship you start on happens to be my favorite of all the environments, and I almost wish the entire game took place on it – it’s a fresh enough location for survival horror, and still manages to offer a diversity of sights and sounds as you make your way through it.
The controls also feel a bit better this time around, and this is usually my top of the list complaint with any Resident Evil game. While it doesn’t quite give you the sort of free-flowing, fast control I personally like – and which may be inappropriate for the series and setting anyway – Revelations manages to make handling your character feel rather smooth. The gyroscope control is surprisingly well-done, something I assumed was going to be gimmicky more than anything, but it actually made the game a bit more natural to play. Regardless, the game still forces you to decide when it’s time to take some accurate shots at your would-be hunters, and when it’s time for you to start moving around and falling back to more defensible positions.
The main campaign is the star of this game, of course – and there’s a fair amount of ground to cover, both in control of Jill Valentine as well as some side-characters whose action takes place far away from the spunky police woman. But the real talk of this game, and the most interesting part of all, comes in the form of the Raid Mode. In this mode you replay certain parts of the main campaign in a remixed style – now with an emphasis on action and blazing guns rather than creeping around and exploring. Your targets pick up health bars, ammo is immediately added to your inventory upon death of your target, and your goal is to rack up more and more points – increasing your ammo, health, guns and even unlocking some additional weapon attachments to fit your guns out with, and which can be brought into a replay of the campaign. Best of all, this mode is available in both single-player and co-op, allowing you to bring a partner along to help slaughter the beefed-up baddies.
So there you have it. A fun campaign set in Resident Evil’s dark but admittedly hokey world, smoother controls than the series normally sees, a reasonably lengthy campaign – and to cap it all off, a remix version that not only allows you to scratch your action- and loot-hoarder itch, but also includes an option for some cooperative gameplay. All this on the convenience of the portable 3DS platform. If gunning down zombies in a gorgeous survivor horror world sounds like your idea of a fun portable adventure, I’d say give this one a look. At the very least you owe it to yourself to check out the demo to get an idea of just what Capcom is offering this time around.