E3 2011 Hands-On: Resident Evil: Revelations - Preview

By Xavier Griffiths, June 8, 2011
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The Nintendo 3DS gets its first does of Resident Evil goodness later this month with the release of Resident Evil the Mercenaries. That is not the only game in the storied franchise in the works as Capcom has Resident Evil Revelations waiting in the wings that was playable at this year’s E3.

The demo took place on an old abandoned luxury cruise ship. I took control of franchise regular Jill Valentine after waking up in a mysterious room. My first challenge was a simple puzzle using the 3DS touch screen to hack a security panel in order to leave the room. The game takes the over-the-shoulder view made popular by Resident Evil 4 and 5 but gameplay is more a faithful transplant of survival horror elements from even older games in the series. The camera switches to a first-person viewpoint when firing weapons but you are still able to move your character in any direction.

Graphically the game looks great. The game is built on Capcom’s MT Framework, which continues to produce stunning visuals across their 3DS lineup of games. Jill looks and animates well enough as she takes on fearsome ugly undead creatures. The enemies are large and detailed with all sort of grizzly features such as claws, amorphous body parts, and all the strange forms popping out of their head that a fan could ask for, in 3D. The environments sport just as much detail, containing all sorts of helpful hidden items that prompt you towards exploration even with the threat of encountering some nefarious monster along the way.

Resident Evil Revelations is another RE game where much of the terror comes from encountering zombies in a narrow corridor with a very limited supply of ammunition.  Jill was equipped with a pistol and a shotgun in her attaché case, visually represented on the bottom screen of the 3DS. You would think that touching your inventory would be the most intuitive way to equip items but that mechanic is based on button presses instead. Switching weapons is mapped to the D-pad; whereas the X button is used for tossing hand grenades and the A button for using healing herbs. This mechanic does not break the game but I found myself shifting my vision to the bottom screen instead of the monsters attacking me, which often left me vulnerable to their attacks.

Also displayed on the 3DS touch screen was a map detailing Jill’s location in the many rooms of the ship as well as where the doors are and if they are locked or unlocked. The game never led me in a specific direction, I just happened to stumble through the level by pressing forwards even though there were many different rooms and areas I could have entered. Y is the action button used for opening doors and fending off the enemies often hidden behind them who grab hold of you. It was commonplace for me to kick a door open only to be greeted by two or more enemies and then decide to either turn back or charge forward because of lack of ammo. Along the way I did find enough ammo to survive, a task made easier by the surprise discovery of an item scanner.

You aim the item scanner as you would any weapon by holding down A and one of the shoulder buttons. This mechanic borrows from Metroid Prime, as you will see circular images representing the location of hidden items that can include grenades under a table or weapons on the carcass of a fallen enemy. The scanner can also locate weak-points on enemies, which would be much more useful if the aiming controls were not so finicky and allowed for some precision. As a result, you will settle for shooting enemies anywhere on the body, expending precious ammo, because taking the time to go for a specific body part will likely result in your own death.

Eventually I found an area of the ship where Jill met up with her partner Parker. Parker became on icon on the map that I could follow although we never encountered any enemies together. The demo ended with a cinematic showing Jill and Parker watching their only potential escape vessel exploding on the stormy seas. A mysterious enemy who knew both characters by name then grabbed Jill from behind. Jill managed to break free but the scene ended on a cliffhanger right before the unknown assailant lunged towards our heroes.

Resident Evil Revelations has a lot going for it so far. It is an original title with great production values containing elements of the series that fans love. If the developer can sort out the finicky controls and tighten up the combat before release the game should be great. Resident Evil Revelations will release sometime in 2012.

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