|Release: February 7, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Richard Eisenbeis
Ever since it brought survival horror to the mainstream in 1996, Resident Evil has been one of Capcom's powerhouse franchises. Thus, it is no surprise that with the upcoming launch of the Nintendo 3DS, two Resident Evil games have been announced for the system. Much is known about the first, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D –a 3D remake of the mercenaries mini-game from Resident Evils 4 and 5, coming out later this year. But the second, Resident Evil: Revelations, was shrouded in mystery until Tokyo's Nintendo World 2011 event in early January where I was able to spend some hands-on time with the first playable demo of this highly anticipated title.
Set sometime before Resident Evil 5, Revelations stars the heroes of the original Resident Evil, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. After the surprisingly long initial loading time of thirty seconds, the demo begins with Jill in one of the service hallways of the ship seen capsizing in the E3 2010 trailer. The low lighting of the corridor is accentuated by lightning flashes, foreshadowing the calamity to be caused by the arriving storm. Right away it is clear that progress in the development of the game has already caused some noticeable changes from what the trailer first presented six months ago. Namely, Jill's character model has changed from mirroring Chris' green and blue outfit back to Jill's traditional blue on blue motif.
The movement controls recall past games as well and are an exact port of Resident Evil 4's one-joystick control scheme, minus a button or two. While strafing is next to impossible, the camera can be turned via the touch screen.
Moving down the hallway, Jill encounters some locked doors before entering a stairwell and proceeds down to the deck below. There, she travels through a dark locker room and to the row of bathroom stalls beyond. It is here that she encounters the first enemy of the demo bursting out of a stall. Unlike the zombies of past games or even the brainwashed humans of more recent ones, this enemy appears to be a malformed mutated monster.
As in most of the past Resident Evils, Jill is unable to move and shoot at the same time. However, unlike past games, shooting and aiming are handled by changing to a first-person perspective. And it is in aiming that the 3D effect first enters into the equation as well. As the laser sight stretches from the foreground to the background, yet never changes thickness, it is hard to tell where exactly it ends. But since Jill has unlimited ammo in this demo, difficulty aiming isn't really all that problematic.
Moving through the adjoining hallways, the 3D gimmick is first brought into play as a colony of bats swarms the camera in a jump-out scare. Then, after proceeding down the stairs, a screaming man is attacked and thrown from across the room straight into a window, inches from Jill's face (in a startlingly gruesome, yet well done, use of 3D). Upon entering that room, Jill is confronted with two monsters feeding on the man's corpse.
This time, combat is more than aiming and shooting since Jill is free to utilize the ability to quickly turn and run to a better position within the larger room. As in Resident Evils 4 and 5, when shot in the head, arm, or leg, the monsters flinch and stumble. However, there is no follow-up melee attack present in this demo. Yet when grabbed by a monster, Jill has to pass a quick time event in order to escape. If the event is not completed successfully, the monster continues to drain Jill's life for a few more seconds until the quick time event repeats itself. As damage is taken, the borders of the screen become bloody red and the field of vision begins to narrow. But in something completely new to the series, the red clears over time, and Jill returns to full health on her own. The monsters have no such healing ability, however, and with their defeat, the demo comes to an unceremonious end.
Without a doubt Resident Evil: Revelations plays like a Resident Evil game, for all the good and bad that entails. The dimly lit ship is a great return to form and recaptures the survival horror atmosphere in a way that Resident Evil 5 did not. The 3D effects are used subtly for the most part, though there is nothing in this game that actually seems to need 3D.
On the new side, ammo was unlimited, health regenerated on its own, and context sensitive melee attacks have been removed from the battle system. But the question remains, "How many of the features present in this demo will make it to the final game?" This is much more a proof-of-concept demo rather than an actual piece of the finished product; and as a release year hasn't even been announced, much will undoubtedly change between now and then. But as things stand, Resident Evil: Revelations is definitely on the right track.
CCC Freelance Writer