It's been a while now since Resident Evil drifted away from pure survival horror for the sake of surviving an ever-growing industry with increasingly more dynamic control schemes. Anything outside this territory is niche and should be treated as such. A franchise like Resident Evil had too much potential to aim merely on the horror buffs with its tank movements and sluggish gameplay.
I'm one of "those guys", I'm afraid. The one that thinks Resident Evil was better when it was sluggish,full of back-tracking and meticulous investigation. I can't deny the huge impact Resident Evil 4 had on me though. I probably re-played Resident Evil 4 more times than I finished all the other games together. Not only because I speed-ran it like hell, but because it's such a good game that each of the 27 or so times I finished it it was a blast to play.
The handheld world would be our one last hope of resistance for a return to origins. The re-release of the original game for the DS made our hearts beat fast in excitement. The 3DS is a much stronger system than its predecessor, newer versions with a new camera stick and peripherals adding a secondary analog-stick are widely found today. Resident Evil could finally resemble Resident Evil 4 and play like it.
Resident Evil: Revelations is such game, it plays like newer installments of the series. Basically how the fourth functioned, press the right shoulder button to enter shooting stance and shoot. Besides aiming the movement is still done in a variation of tank-like controls, the camera is fixed on the back of the character and not in some predetermined place around the area.
The game is pretty good for what it is. What actually becomes too apparent right from the beginning is the amazing production. It's probably the best looking 3DS game to date, hard to imagine they could manage to make it run in a handheld, especially the one which is not the PSP. The dubs are probably the weakest spot in this regard. Some voice-actors are down-right annoying trying to sound like something they obviously can't -- basically the funny guy from those two agents in Arklay Mountains. Also, there are several languages to change both sound and text, something we just see in a few heavy-weight titles.
The sound design is also amazing. They were able to create a sort of surround sound using only the built-in speakers that actually sounds great. Sometimes the game won't recognize if you're on top or lower floor compared to some monster coming after you. Like I've experienced while fighting a mini-boss in a fairly complicated scenario with lots of stairs, jump spots and corridors connecting everything. Sometimes, I was on the top floor and couldn't tell if my foe was right behind me or one story under.
There is something I can't really tell if they were ever certain about it; of course I'm talking about the scan machine. The idea is pretty good but in practical terms it's not something so enjoyable to use. I would guess they had made it so we could catalog monsters and fill a logbook with all of them; but it simply scans them, raising the percentage a bit depending on which monster you scanned, handing out a green herb when the percentage hits the highest level, and that's about it.
The developers also thought it would be a good idea to hide numerous items around each location requiring you to first scan them to then be able to pick it up. A small yellow thingy would start bleeping, announcing some hidden item in the vicinity. It only works after readying the machine, so if you want to explore you would have to keep using this thing all the time, which is insanely bothersome. You can also investigate hand prints left by late survivors. Still, using is not practical at all.
The story is supposed to have happened between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5. Hard to tell, because ever since the fourth installment was released RE's backstory became as clumsy and cluttered as Zelda. Nothing makes sense anymore, the global scale in which everything seems to take place sounds like it happens in a whole new world where the only hope for fighting a future full of zombies and dead graffiti-ridden alleys rely on the same old people who were caught up in the 1998's incident with Umbrella in Raccoon City.
A new environmentally friendly city was founded in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, a floating city. The city's energy is generated by solar power using a gigantic satellite that somehow focus energy for the photovoltaic cells found anywhere in this futuristic place. A terrorist group decides to thwart their plans of singing birds and laughter everywhere, so they use the very satellite to wipe this city out of existence.
They are back trying to contaminate the whole world with a modified version of the T-Virus called T-Abyss. By releasing this highly contagious virus in the sea all the wild life whithin the oceans would soon become killer animals with a lust for blood. The fact nature is entwined throughout the whole planet in one giant mass of biosphere, the results would soon escalate to a global disaster. It's time for a group of anti-terrorists to fight this threat.
The game has an episodic sequence, sort of a Pulp Fiction with gameplay and zombies. Some episodes are happening at the same time, while others happens in different periods of time -- for example, you get to play on the floating city as the whole thing goes to hell, it happened 1 years earlier from the main events in the game. It works well, I can't really complain. Especially in a first play-through, it's hard to catch everything that's going on but things get easier as you get used to it.
The location you'll explore the most is a ship. A good move and interesting concept, though as there are several episodes within one complex structure of story you might get to play in icy mountains or inside buildings as well. You don't get to control only one character during the whole play-through, you play several depending on what part of the story is being told.
Aside from the main story, there's the Raid mode, a nice addition I must say. Basically you get several missions based on the main game but more focused and running for a good score. As you advance you get better weapons, or, you get the same weapons but in higher levels. The higher level gives higher firepower, improved stats or more slots to attach custom parts. These custom parts are found everywhere in the main game as well as in Raid mode. They improve you weapon by raising stuff like recharge rate, damage or bullets shot per minute.
This might be one of those situations where I'll have to say this game is amazing, but as a Resident Evil, it lacks a lot. It lacks atmosphere, it lacks exploration, it lacks a story without all those spin-offs that may or may not have any relation to the main narrative. It has more action than anyone would want for their RE, but isn't what we all expected at this point? Let's enjoy RE for what it is and now what we would have wanted it to be.