I’ve wanted to play a proper, portable Resident Evil game for a long time. I was understandably disappointed when Resident Evil Portable for PSP never materialised into anything, and later looked forward to playing Resident Evil: Revelations on 3DS once it was announced.
A demo for Resident Evil: Revelations recently went live on the North American and European 3DS eShop. This sample is different to the one which was included with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D last year, although you’ll still play as Jill Valentine. The demo takes just a couple of minutes to download on a decent connection and can be played up to thirty times, after which it expires.
Although the demo only takes about twenty minutes to complete, you unlock a harder difficulty mode which can be accessed on your next playthrough. There are also tons of control options and game settings to experiment with, giving you a reason to return to the demo multiple times.
The sample begins with Jill waking up on an abandoned cruise liner and telling her partner Parker that the interior resembles that of a mansion (thus eliciting a chuckle from Resident Evil fans). You’re soon exploring the ship’s luxurious rooms and corridors and discovering plenty of familiar items such as a shotgun and green herbs in the process.
It’s also not long before you run into some seriously mutated enemies. They look nothing like the zombies from previous games, but more akin to the slimy bags of flesh you encounter in the Silent Hill series. I really hope you’ll meet some traditional Resident Evil enemies during the game, because there’s nothing quite like the moan of a horde of zombies behind you to get you reaching for the most potent weapon in your arsenal.
An interesting thing I noticed in the demo is that enemies won’t follow you when you enter a new room via a door. This breaks the sense of immersion slightly as those of us who played Resident Evil 5 are used to doors being bashed down by rampant zombies who want to chew on your neck. By comparison, Resident Evil: Revelations’ enemies seem a little too content to let you continue on your merry may.
These gripes aside, the rest of the demo is nothing short of spectacular. Resident Evil: Revelations feels like a worthy entry in the main series and makes excellent use of the 3DS’ hardware capabilities to deliver an experience you won’t soon forget.
I mentioned before that the demo offers options galore, so let me break these down for you. You can choose between a number of European languages, including some that have never been featured in the Resident Evil series before. This is because the developers felt that forcing non-English speakers to have subtitles on their 3DS’ small screen would break their sense of immersion (subtitles are still an option though).
The demo supports the 3DS’ ‘Circle Pad Pro’ peripheral as well as three different control layouts using a standard 3DS. I’ve heard that the Circle Pad Pro is the optimal way to play the game as it allows you to control the camera with the right stick, but unfortunately this peripheral is not available in most European territories yet.
With the add-on out of the picture for now, you can opt for the tank-like controls from previous Resident Evil games or choose a more modern setup where your character can strafe left or right and where the face buttons control the camera. I tried all three control schemes and found Type C (modern setup) to be the best of the bunch.
You can also choose if you want your aiming view to be third-person or first-person, and can even opt for gyroscope aiming if you don’t mind moving your 3DS around like a camera’s viewfinder during confrontations. Thankfully Resident Evil: Revelations allows you to move at walking speed while you’re aiming so you can back away as you pump an enemy full of lead.
There are three levels of 3D to choose from: normal, strong and very strong. I found ‘strong’ to be the best fit for my sensibilities, since you have to hold the 3DS incredibly still to avoid ghosting if you put the setting on ‘very strong.’
One of the most impressive moments in Resident Evil: Revelations from a 3D standpoint is when you aim your shotgun in first-person view – it really feels like you’re looking down the barrel of the gun. The 3D effect seems a little toned down during cut-scenes but the effect is excellent during gameplay, especially when you’re aiming at enemies shuffling towards you from a distance. One negative effect of 3D is that jaggies become more apparent in this mode – as soon as you turn down the slider the environments receive a healthy dose of anti-aliasing (although the frame rate remains unchanged).
The 3D in Resident Evil: Revelations isn’t the only trick up its sleeve. The game also makes brilliant use of the bottom touch screen to enhance the classic Resident Evil experience. All the typical HUD elements are displayed on this screen, as well as a dynamic map which shows you which doors are locked and which ones you haven’t tried yet. You can switch between weapons or reload them simply by tapping on the desired icon, and choose which of your sub-weapons (such as a knife or grenades) you want to equip. You can also use a thin vertical bar on the bottom screen to quickly switch to a menu where you can examine your inventory in more detail.
There’s a new item in Resident Evil: Revelations called a ‘supply scanner.’ You pick it up early on in the demo and can use it to scan environments for hidden enemies and items, or scan dead enemies to receive a bonus (which isn’t available in the demo). This is a great option to have when you’re running low on ammo or herbs and don’t mind sparing the time to scan your environment thoroughly. What’s interesting is that you’re not even given the option to pick up an item which you know is hidden in a certain location – you have to first scan that area to make it appear.
The audio aspect of the demo is phenomenal. Plug in headphones and turn up the volume and you’ll be immersed in the game’s creepy atmosphere in no time. The music and sound effects have always been a stellar element of Resident Evil titles and Capcom doesn’t disappoint with their latest offering. The 3DS supports virtual surround sound and you can definitely identify the separate channels when you plug in a decent pair of headphones.
That’s pretty much all I have to say about the Resident Evil: Revelations demo for now. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Also, be sure to look out for El33tonline’s review of the final code in the coming weeks – the game is out next Friday (January 27th) in PAL territories and February 7th in the US.
You can also visit the just-launched official Resident Evil: Revelations microsite for more information, found over here.