Resident Evil: Revelations is a gem. As a fan of Resident Evil 4, and someone who actually skipped on Resident Evil 5, this game completely surprised me.
I went in expecting bad production values and gameplay mechanics that didn't match the handheld. I wound up really enjoying the game, despite its limitations and mechanical issues.
The RE series is one that's built on plot twists and surprise characters, so I won't waste time spoiling any of those reveals. I will say that this story brings you aboard an infected, rusty ship and spreads you across several characters in a host of different environments as the tale wears on. If you're worried about the levels growing stale or repeating too much, don't be. The game mixes up the characters, tension, locations and pacing enough that it stays interesting.
What aren't all that interesting, however, are the enemies. Compared to other games in this series, Revelations is relatively devoid of enemy variety. Hulking white masses switch for gobs of slimy meat with teeth and deranged wolves every so often, but you'll typically be focusing on one or two types of enemies per level. That makes things a little less tense and a little more boring.
Mechanically, Revelations applies the stop-aim-shoot mechanics this series was built on. In most circumstances, it works. But, remember, the 3DS only has one circle pad on it without the add-on that works with this game (which I actually didn't get a chance to try). So, peering around corners or looking around the room is done by swiping on the touch screen.
Simply put: it doesn't work very well. You'll wind up stopping, turning, spinning and starting constantly if you want to look around bends before running forward. It's a frustrating system that tends to make itself known during the worst possible moments and can actually lead to a lot of death. You'll get used to it over time, but that comes at the expense of really exploring and leaning the area.
Further than that, inventory management is handled on the bottom screen as well. The UI never worked for me, though that may be a matter of strict personal opinion. Capcom crammed the inventory onto a screen with a mini-map. You can focus on individual sections with taps and bottom presses for management and customization, but the whole system feels too tight to work on the fly.
Both of those large complaints, however, are significantly outweighed by the graphical prowess employed here. Cutscenes are built from great, pre-rendered footage that amplifies each character present. They happen often and stand as strong interludes in the story. Environments and on-screen characters look nice in real time as well. Everything runs silky smooth in game and the atmosphere built off of that fact is fantastic.
What I love most about this game is the way it that it is split up; instead of one long run through the story, the game is presented in nice 20-30 minute chunks. They're labelled "Episodes" here, and they present an awesome way to give mobile gamers a nice bite-sized experience. You'll be able to immerse yourself in the world quickly and efficiently, and even your limited play sessions feel like quality.
Before getting to the score of this review, I will state openly that I did not have a chance to dive into the multiplayer portion of the game. Raid mode is, apparently, a lot like Horde mode in the Gears franchise. Players will battle waves of enemies cooperatively in order to advance. I did not try it.
I was otherwise busy with the robust campaign.
Resident Evil: Revelations is one of the best entries this franchise has seen in a while. It reverts back to more classic gameplay elements instead of the action-oriented style RE5 brought to the mix. This is a great addition to the Nintendo 3DS catalogue and, quite honestly, Capcom's created the best non-Nintendo game for this new handheld.
If you're a series fan and a Nintendo 3DS owner, don't skip out.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline was sent a review copy of Resident Evil: Revelations a week before its release. We played through the main campaign completely over the course of a week.