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Resident Evil Revelations preview: Drained


My first potential action in Resident Evil: Revelations was simple and nostalgic: drain the bath tub? Well it did appear as if something was in the water -- at least that's what the text box before the question had told me. "Eff it!" I thought, caution to the wind. "Let's drain the bastard." And the murky tub full of liquid drained. Lo and behold, I'd found a screwdriver. Just the screwdriver I needed to unscrew a cover, so I could solve a minigame and finally open a door! Is it just me, or does it suddenly feel suspiciously like 1997?

My feelings on Resident Evil: Revelations are succinctly summed up in the scenario described above. The Jill Valentine led other 3DS Resident Evil game is a brand new romp through a very old game world: the world of games like Resident Evil 1 and 2. It's a puzzle-riddled, ammo managing, archaic retreat to a land of gameplay mechanics that may be enticing to some old-school RE fans, but sure didn't get my heart pounding.

Gallery: Resident Evil: Revelations (E3 2011) | 23 Photos

My hands-on demo of RE: Revelations opened with occasional near-sandwich Jill Valentine trapped in a room. She had a beretta and the will to explore, but not much else beyond that. Not even a melee attack, though it's possible she'll get one eventually; Capcom's "not talking about that" just yet.

After retrieving the screwdriver from the tub, I explored the bathroom a bit more, then the next room where I discovered a panel with four screws. Using the touch screen, I twisted each screw and was faced with a beginner level circuitry puzzle. After a few more moments, I passed through the door -- thankfully sans door-loading animation -- and headed into a hallway.

Rather than a regular ol' Resident Evil zombie, a Cthulhu-faced humanoid creature lept from the bottom shelf of a bookcase as I passed. Unloading a handful of bullets into its disfigured body did little in the way of slowing it down, so I turned and ran with a quick 180 before dropping a few into its head. Like Alex Mack before it, the creature quickly turned into a pile of goop on the ground -- an era-appropriate reference for Revelations.

I did all of these things while standing still. There is no strafe-shooting in Revelations, nor quick reloading. Not that you'll have many bullets to reload anyway, as an incredibly constrained supply (at least in my demo) means aiming carefully and knowing when to run. As charming as these properties may be to some gamers, I found them increasingly frustrating and archaic, moreso without a melee ability. It also stood out that updates to games like Resident Evil 4 aren't there in combat, such as shooting out limbs.

Worse, aiming is handled by holding down a shoulder button, aiming with the thumbstick, and shooting with a face button, resulting in the dreaded "claw" problem found in so many shooting games on the original DS. My hand didn't seize or hurt during the demo by any means, but 3DS owners who are way into old-school Resident Evil games should probably invest in a stand for their handheld.

The addition of a scanner during the demo gave a bit of a hint to the way you'll be exploring Revelations' cruise ship locale, solving missions a la Samus Aran apparently. It was hard to enjoy any of the newness this imparted as I was stiltedly tank-walking around circular tables.

I didn't love the time I spent with Revelations, but I can respect what Capcom's doing here. It's a diligent if imperfect homage to an older era of Resident Evil games for a new generation of handheld consoles, and that's a really neat concept. I have no doubt the company will deliver on that promise, I just don't think it's meant for me.

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