Resident Evil Revelations is the first of three full Resident Evil games to be released this year, and Capcom is really starting out strong. Notably, it's a classic survival horror Resident Evil game, except this one's on a handheld. The game features tight corridors, low ammo counts, and general tension. This one really took me by surprise when the demo hit the eShop earlier this year, I didn't expect a handheld survival horror game to actually deliver, but Resident Evil does, in so many ways.
The game starts with Jill Valentine and Parker Luciani investigating some new form of Bio-Organic Weapons. You are quickly introduced to some new mechanics like the GENESIS scan gun and, well, shooting while actually moving. The game takes some interesting twists and turns from there and you end up with Jill and Parker on a derelict ship, the luxury cruise liner, The Queen Zenobia. The game from here shows some flashbacks of some of the game's history, and some other game moments featuring other iconic Resident Evil characters, such as Chris Redfield.
The first thing I noticed about Revelations was just how great it looked. It's definitely the best looking game on the system, by far. The 3D isn't really required to enhance the game play, but it does actually clean up the lines and gives you some great depth. The animations are smooth and the game just looks visually appealing. However, some of the creatures are lacking in texture, they mostly just look like grey/brown humanoid creatures. Though Jill, Parker, Chris and every other character has some great look to them and great texture. Though the facial animations leave a bit to be desired, it's really the best it can be on the 3DS. There were some small frame rate issues, though those only occurred during loading from one area of the ship to another, the game quickly returned to the proper frame rates once the door opens. The sound, however, isn't the best, even with headphones in, the foot steps don't sound too realistic, and the monsters don't sound that imposing. Though, the issues with the sound aren't too overbearing, the sounds get the point across and you only really notice the sound issues if you focus in on it.
The controls feel quite good and fluid. They are a bit complex without the addition of the new 3DS circle pad pro peripheral. With standard A type controls you can move and turn with the standard circle pad, you strafe by holding down the left shoulder button and pull up your firearm with the right shoulder button. One of the face buttons is to fire and another to reload while holding your gun. With this control scheme you can hold strafe while aiming to move while shooting, though in this mode you cannot aim at the same time. Type B and C controls are variations on a theme, but type C controls allow you to use the A, B, X, and Y buttons to operate the camera controls. Type D controls involve use of the 3DS circle pad, the actual best control scheme I've found so far. The Type D Circle Pad controls feel intuitive and snappy, just like it should, having an extra analog stick. The controls all feel good, so it's really up to you how you want to play, though I honestly suggest grabbing the Circle Pad to make your life a bit easier, though the game is quite playable without it.
The atmosphere is wonderful. It's a true survival horror game. There are tight corridors and lots of tension... and so very little ammo. It's a welcome change in the direction that other Resident Evil games have been going. Resident Evil 4 and 5 were great games, but they weren't quite how a Resident Evil game should have gone, they were more action oriented rather than be about the pacing and the horror elements. It's a nice change because the two upcoming Resident Evil games this year definitely look far more action oriented.
In addition to the impressive single player showing (about 7-8 hours worth of gameplay!) there is also the 2 player co-op Raid Mode. It can be played either local or over the internet. Which is a survival, objective based game. You actually get to unlock the Raid Mode after finishing Episode 3 of the main story. The Raid Mode also opens up a shop that allows you purchase weapons and other upgrades for the main story and the raid mode. You can use Battle Points (BP) for most items and you can use the integrated 3DS Play Coins to purchase other stuff. The Raid mode is a very nice addition to the game but not essential for the full enjoyment of this title.
All-in-all, Resident Evil Revelations is... well, a revelation. The game is spectacular, especially for a handheld, though it's not perfect. The graphics look spectacular, and the pacing and story telling are also quite good. The game play feels smooth and really intuitive, no matter what control scheme you choose. If you own a 3DS it's definitely a recommended purchase, if you don't have a 3DS, this may push you to actually buy the handheld.