Gamescom 2011: Resident Evil: Revelations Hands-On Preview

We put Chris and his new partner Jessica through their paces in Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS.

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Chris Redfield's partner, Jessica, wants to know if he trusts her as much as he trusted his former partner, Jill Valentine. She also complains a good deal. It might be because they are investigating a bioterrorist threat atop a snowy mountain and her get-up is more Snow Day Barbie than arctic explorer, what with the Cossack-style hat and matching fur wrist- and ankle-warmers.

"My feet are killing me," says Jessica. "This cave is too cold," she says.

"You should have worn your thermal underwear," says Chris, the player character of the Gamescom demo, who must have remembered his. To the question of trusting her, though, he hedges in reply--something about trust being earned. At least she's handy with a rifle.

This comes early in Resident Evil: Revelations, the 3DS Resi title that's story-driven, in contrast to the pure score chasing of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Chris and Jessica are new partners in the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, and Jess has yet to fill the shoes of one Jill Valentine.

As they make their way across the mountaintop, pelted by some good-looking 3D snow flurries, a beleaguered plane zooms overhead, engines ablaze, and crashes in the distance. When they investigate the wreckage, using Chris's item-revealing "genesis scanner" device, they find a dead pilot and a crate marked with a biohazard logo and "traces of a virus."

Their investigation leads them into a mine, in which Chris jumps down small drops and across small ravines, with navigation aided by the minimap on the lower screen. The minimap reveals a level that's mostly linear, with paths that briefly diverge and then recombine. The mine is host to infected, undead-looking wolves, barbed with bony spikes. They circle and lunge in small packs, forcing us to run and use the quick turn to get distance before taking aim with Chris' shotgun.

As with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries, the right shoulder button is used to pop into an over-the-shoulder, laser-sighted aim mode, with the Y button to shoot. There's also a touch-screen inventory, as in Mercenaries, that works rather well. We add a number of BOW (bio-organic weapon) decoy grenades to it as we scour the mine's cave network, fending off infected wolves as we go.

When the partners emerge from the mine onto a high cliff ledge, the rock crumbles under Chris' feet and tips him down a crevasse. Injured and unable to stand, he has to hold off waves of wolf zombies with a combination of BOW grenades (these are on a timer and explode after attracting nearby enemies) and a handgun, while Jessica takes the long way down to come help him.

Revelations' visuals have a good deal of oomph, with or without 3D, especially in the detailed character models, and the 3DS controls lend themselves nicely to this Resi control scheme, as in Mercenaries. Where Mercenaries stripped plot away from the action-shooter-horror experience, though, Revelations puts it front and centre. Resident Evil fans hungry for a story should keep an eye on this one.

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