"Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself (and Zombies)"
Resident Evil is famous for two things; first, for creating the survival horror genre, and secondly, for abandoning that genre in favor of straightforward action. While the original game encouraged resource conservation, careful planning, and running from enemies rather than confronting them, Resident Evil gradually awarded players with more ammo and better guns, with the fourth game making the series about outright third-person shooting. Thus, Capcom promised to restore the series' unique flair and win back some fans with Resident Evil Revelations, the survival-focused 3DS spin-off. By doing so, they've made what may be the best Resident Evil game to date, as well as the greatest showpiece for the 3DS hardware.
Revelations is a side-story set before the fifth game, starring shapely zombie-exterminator Jill Valentine as she and her partner Parker Luciano try to escape an infested cruise ship. Most of the game is set on that ship, exploring the cabins and defending against the monsters, but it also includes several side-missions filling out the backstory and featuring other characters. Like most Resident Evil stories, the convolution of the narrative ultimately doesn't amount to much more than a traditional sci-fi action movie plot, but that's not the point. The point is to create a tense and disturbing atmosphere, and in that Resident Evil Revelations succeeds with flying colors. The interior of the ship is a great horror setting, as the corridors cover a massive game-world while feeling claustrophobic and disorienting. The side-missions aren't quite as impressive, focusing more on epic set pieces and action scenes (such as Parker having to fight his way out of an infested skyscraper before it's destroyed to "contain" the monsters), but they add some nice variety and a good breather from the sinking ship. The environmental detail is amazing, and turning on the 3D effect increases the immersion a thousandfold.
The graphics of Resident Evil Revelations are easily the best the 3DS has so far seen, but the gameplay is equally stellar. Like the old PlayStation Resident Evils, the monsters are extremely tough and will not go down with a single shot to the head. To make matters more challenging, ammunition is relatively scarce, so accuracy is paramount if players wish to avoid the blood-soaked "You Are Dead" message. Thankfully, players have several new tactics to employ. One is the innovative system for evading, where flicking the analog nub at the right moment can be used to sidestep a vicious blow, offering a more fluid version of the other games' Quick-Time-Event counter-attacks. The other is the weapon customization system, which allows players to acquire custom accessories and optimize their guns to suit their play styles. Shots must be made carefully, but the shooting is handled well enough that players can only blame their own incompetence if they die.
Perhaps Revelations' greatest achievement is how it justifies the existence of Nintendo's Circle Pad Pro accessory. Without Nintendo's oblong add-on, Revelations controls decently, though finer movements are a bit awkward on a single analog nub. However, with the extra Circle Pad, the game controls like a dream. The second nub allows players to move and look simultaneously, giving them full awareness of their environment and allowing immediate responses. The shooting controls are graciously mapped to the accessory's extra shoulder triggers, so players can move, look, and shoot all at the same time. The Circle Pad Pro also makes the system easier for adult hands to grip, and since kids are not likely to be playing the M-Rated title, this is a great boon. Pair the great controls and gameplay with the beautiful 3D graphics, and you have one of the most immersive experiences ever seen on a handheld gaming system.
GameDynamo's Score for Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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