Resident Evil: Revelations Hands On
Developer: Capcom / Publisher: Capcom / Platform: Nintendo 3DS / Release Date: February 2012 / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language]
Much like a ship heaving on the high seas, the Resident Evil series has, over the years, had its lurching ups and downs (some of them on the queasy side). It’s certainly inarguable that the series has tended toward the action-packed, fearlessly-blow-the-crap-out-of-everything side of the pond…but what we saw at the Tokyo Game Show (and more recently in San Francisco) offers some hope of ResEvil listing back towards its roots: Atmospheric fear. And hey, 3D and portable? Is that a game-system in your pocket, or you just happy to be back?
Much of Resident Evil: Revelations focuses on the goings-on aboard the Queen Zenobia, a cruise ship scarred by the worst seagoing luck since the Titanic. It’s filled with the sorts of abominations you’d expect from a Resident Evil game. This time around, the franchise is giving the old zombies a rest, seemingly chucking them overboard in favor of different monstrous enemies, most notably the Ooze, an icky, pale, slick, vaguely anthropomorphized bio-weapon species that look not quite freaky enough to make the cut for a Silent Hill game. As the game jumps around various settings you’ll deal with hulking Hunters, less-than-okay wolves, swimming beetle-like abominations, and more.
And jump around the game does; you’re not confined to the Queen Zenobia (although her interiors do make for some spooky encounters.) It’s also quite reasonable that a ship’s guts would consist of cramped, labyrinthine corridors, and hearing the Bad Things before you see them can only make a survival-horror experience better. Indeed, the game will switch between entirely different chapters, settings, and characters—so when you’re not meeting Jill’s partner Parker, you may find yourself running around with Chris Redfield in the crappiest winter mountain-deployment assignment ever (or deciding what to make of the ‘comedy’ duo of Quint and Keith). Even the Queen Zenobia herself offers something in the way of environmental variety, as it’s not all cramped, paranoid corridors. A reasonably sumptuous dining-hall, a vast clock-room, and a floating-casino-because-nothing-bad-could-ever-happen-there make these locations as much characters as the protagonists themselves.
Revelations really squeezes the 3DS for all she’ll give visually, and the over-the-shoulder gameplay—particularly aboard the cruise liner—is at least a step toward guiding the Resident Evil experience back toward its fear-based roots. Revelations will be, um, revealed to Stateside gamers in February.