Resident Evil: Revelations blends the atmospheric horror of the original games with the fast-paced, over-the-shoulder action of the series' latest outings. As producer Tsukasa Takenaka notes, recent iterations in the Resident Evil series have veered away from survival horror, feeling more like action games. Takenaka hopes he can steer the series back towards its original style with this game.
Away from the story-driven single-player campaign, though, the survival horror experience gives way to a new, arcadey two-player co-op section: Raid mode. In a hands-on with the game, we got to sample this score- and loot-focused cooperative mode, in which you take on portions of levels from the campaign with another player, either in local or online co-op. We were given time with the five levels from Raid mode, with the levels taking place in various environments, including a ship and a huge mansion. In this mode, all enemies have health bars, with each bullet taking off a chunk of their life (represented in numbers). Certain enemies also have certain stats boosted, represented by particular images next to their health bars, so some enemies may deal extra damage or be superfast, making things even more challenging.
We had to get to the end of the level as quickly as possible in order to get a higher score, the highest being the elusive "S" ranking. Each enemy drops an item when killed, which can be more ammo or health. Enemy drops are random, and if you're lucky enough, enemies will drop weapon attachments that can be used to upgrade your guns at the end of each stage.
Each kill and stage completion earns XP, which can be spent at the end of each level on higher-level guns to make tricky runs a little faster. Guns of the same level can have different stats too--two level-11 handguns may appear the same, but one will have a higher rate of fire whilst the other will do more damage. It's this level of depth and the teasing loot cycle that add a more addictive level and should keep completionists coming back for more.
Like Mercenaries 3D before it, Revelations uses the 3DS circle pad for both walking and running. Whereas the series' console releases have tended to incorporate a dedicated run button, in Revelations, the further you push the circle pad, the faster your character moves. Revelations also uses the 3DS's newish Circle Pad Pro peripheral: a cradle that adds a second circle pad to the device. Players who use the second circle pad will be at a definite advantage, as the specific control scheme lets you move freely while aiming. With much criticism of this stop-and-shoot control having been levelled against the series, it's good to see it being amended in Revelations, even if it's only when using the Circle Pad Pro.
When playing Raid mode in local two-player co-op, one of us had the second circle pad and one did not, and we had to use very different tactics. The player using the classic control scheme tended to stand back and pick off creatures from a safe distance, while the player using the Circle Pad Pro tended to get more up close and personal with the enemies.
Revelations is a handsome game, easily one of the best looking on the 3DS. The short stages and chapters mean that it's well designed for quick bursts of play, but it still allows for longer stretches of action. One point that Takenaka was keen to emphasise was the ability to delete game saves--a big complaint regarding Mercenaries 3D, and another clear sign that the developer has been listening to fans.
All the maps we played took place on the same tier--no enemies attacked from above or below. One quirky element we ran into in co-op was that both players had to open doors to continue through them, and at points this led to one of us running into trouble, entering a room full of enemies while our partner had to wait to open the door himself. Hopefully, Takenaka's vast knowledge of the franchise will mean that Resident Evil: Revelations will be a great addition to the franchise, and we'll find out when the game is released in January 2012.