" Resident Evil" defined a whole generation of survival horror games. The original could cause you to jump - literally jump - out of your seat. Over the years, Capcom, the maker, retooled the series, mostly for the better. Yet each subsequent version lost what made the original so great. The "Resident Evil" franchise simply wasn't scary anymore - until now. "Resident Evil: Revelations," for the Nintendo 3DS, brings back old-school survival horror by using some good, honest suspense.
The story this time follows two Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA) agents, Jill Valentine and Parker Luciani. The two are sent to the abandoned cruise ship Queen Zenobia in search of fellow missing agents Chris Redfield and Jessia Sherawat. Naturally, Jill and Parker get stuck aboard the ship (now filled with countless mutated baddies) and need to find their way out while unraveling the mystery.
The game cuts back and forth from the ship to flashbacks and also side events in real time. While these side events (and missions) are well-done, the game, in the end, really shines when it focuses on the main adventure on the cruise ship.
Although Capcom has brought the game back to its more frightening roots, it does lack what made the franchise a hit in the first place…Zombies! Instead we are treated to the Ooze, a mutation created by bio-organic weapons. These slimy mutants are similar to the zombies of yore in that they hunger for flesh and kill anything with a pulse. What makes them more fearsome is that they can appear out of nowhere, slinking out of a grate or sliding out of a steam vent. A hallway previously thought to be empty can all of a sudden have an Ooze monster barreling out of a sealed floor vent. It makes for some tense and startling moments-but it's still not Zombies.
While 3-D games are always a mixed bag, "RE: Revelations" takes the 3-D ball and runs with it. The effect adds just enough depth to make everything pop, and it really shines in some of the grander rooms on the ship. It does not give you a three-hour headache after playing, something that can't be said for some other 3-D games.
The graphics are also some of the best looking the 3DS has to offer. Everything from the characters, to the mutations, to the spectacular lighting effects makes for an immersive gaming experience. The Queen Zenobia is massive, reminiscent of the Mansion from the original game. From the ship's bridge to the dining halls, the immense detail to every room adds to the atmosphere.
The same attention has clearly been paid to the sound design. Capcom has always been brilliant at sound that captures its audience. "Revelations" is no exception. The creaks of the abandoned ship, plus the wails of creatures lurking in the shadows are complemented by a heart-pumping soundtrack. All these elements combine for a truly hair-raising experience.
As for the mechanics, players are given several options in control setup. The thumb stick is used to walk and look around, while the right trigger allows you to aim your weapon. If you want to fire a gun, you have to stop, aim, and then shoot. You can't walk and shoot at the same time, something that appeals to the nostalgic while generating frustration in others. There does seem to be a sensitivity issue when aiming, but after a while it becomes intuitive.
Capcom has also designed the game to be compatible with the Circle Pad Pro. Using the add-on allows for dual-stick controls, which make maneuvering and shooting a little easier. You don't necessarily need the add-on controller, but it helps in the long run.
"Resident Evil: Revelations" is noticeably slower-paced than the more recent shoot 'em up sold for the big game consoles. It relies heavily on atmosphere to build up anticipation. With top-notch graphics, incredible sound design, and a dash of old school scary thrown into the mix, this is one entry in the survival-horror genre that will be hard to top.