New ‘Resident Evil’ fills in story’s gaps

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Since the days of the Sony Playstation, Capcom’s “Resident Evil” series has become a multi-million dollar franchise. From comics to big-budget movies, the mysteries surrounding the Umbrella Corporation’s T-virus have grown into a web of details, sometimes too much to keep up with. With a less than satisfactory offering released last June, which felt like an expanded mini-game instead of a full-fledged title but was still full price, the series is back with something bigger. Although “Resident Evil Revelations” is not one of the official numbered versions seen in the past few years, “Resident Evil 5” being the most recent in 2009 with a sequel set for November of this year, it is by no means a simple diversion looking to cash in on the Nintendo 3DS. “Revelations” fills in the gaps between “Resident Evil 4” and “Resident Evil 5” and does so with an interesting plot, beautiful graphics and smooth controls, for the most part.

Players assume the role of either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield at different points in the story. They are the founding members of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, or BSAA, and must combat the likes of Veltro, a bioterrorist organization intent on causing chaos in general. The villains’ primary method of attack is through use of their Bio Organic Weapons, (B.O.W.s) which are mutated humanoid creatures not unlike the classic zombies of the series’ past. Players will battle them from such diverse locales as a ship in the middle of the ocean to the snowy isolation of the mountains and must always be on guard. The different settings provide enough variety to keep things interesting and each have their own merits.

Although the plot is important for a survival horror game such as this, what makes this a “Resident Evil” game is the tried and true gameplay. Whether it be in the confined hallways of the ship or the more open areas of the mountains, there is always just the right hint of danger. Players can defend themselves with a variety of familiar weapons, such as a pistol, shotgun, knife, grenades, etc. Ammo must be carefully conserved to stay alive for long. A nice addition to the game is the Genesis machine, a device used to scan enemies and the environment for beneficial purposes. Each enemy scanned, live or dead, builds up a percentage and rewards players each time they fill it to 100. Extra ammo and medicinal herbs can also be found using this so it makes the game slightly easier for players that use it. Fortunately though, players can bypass this completely to add to the challenge.

“Revelations” is very flexible when it comes to controls. Players can choose between several control schemes as well as a first-or-third-person perspective while aiming a weapon. While the 3DS’s circle pad works well enough for aiming, there are some useful additions that make it slightly easier. Nintendo’s new Circle Pad Pro attachment adds a second joystick for aiming, but the extended grip might be displeasing to some players. Perhaps the best option is the built-in gyroscope that provides smooth aiming similar to the Nintendo Wii’s pointer control for “Resident Evil 4,” but in a handheld form. Lining up headshots for enemies is even sweeter when players move the system as a whole instead of a simple joystick. It must be experienced to be believed.

For a 3DS game, the graphics are top notch for the system. While the detail is great even in 2D, the optimal way to play this game is in 3D. There are no cheesy effects seen in poor 3D movies; everything here is as realistic as it can get. Besides the intensity slider on the system itself, there are also different depth levels to suit the players’ tastes. The textures are well-crafted, the environmental lighting is just right and everything is nice to look at. There are also several cut-scenes that bring the best of the 3DS to light.

Besides the main campaign, there are also several other activities to keep players busy. Throughout the game, certain tasks can be completed to earn medals that reward players with new weapons, upgrades and more. It could be as simple as making a gun shoot faster or more powerful or something like unlocking advanced weaponry. There is also an unlockable “Raid Mode,” similar to other recent games. Players battle alone or cooperatively against waves of enemies to achieve the best score or survive as long as possible. It even makes use of the 3DS’s SpotPass feature, which gives players rewards in the form of in-game items when the system is in sleep mode as players walk around.

Overall, “Resident Evil Revelations” delivers more of what fans love from the series while including several enjoyable additions. There is plenty of on the edge of your seat action as players struggle to survive and uncover the mystery, a decent plot, beautiful graphics for the system and a nice variety of smooth control. “Resident Evil” fans with a 3DS should definitely pick this up to tide them over until “Resident Evil 6” releases later this year. It’s so fun, it’s scary.

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