by Al Warwick
previewed on NDS
The best scares in the genre
Back in January I previewed another Wii port of an old Resident Evil re-imagining: Resident Evil Zero. Part of of the Archives series, it was a solid if somewhat tired game which did nothing to tarnish the reputation of the king of survival horror franchises. Alone In The Dark may forever hold the title as the pioneer title, but none since have delivered the scares, shocks or storylines as consistently as Capcom’s baby.
Forever a stickler for videogame traditions and a fan of the ‘original’ title in a series, I never fully appreciated the revelatory fourth instalment in the series. Although it took me far too many years to embrace the classic Resi control system, to suddenly see it completely overhauled distanced me too much from Leon’s returning adventure in the next generation of consoles.
Since then there have been the many successful redesigns and revisits that paid credit to the originals. Number 5 arrived just last year and represents the series’ first foray into the current climate of HD gloss, multiplayer leaderboards and reams of other functions to make your head hurt. It mostly succeeded with the strong central character of Chris returning once again and that same level of quality.
But arguably biggest failing of Resident Evil 5 was the sunny African location. Shanty towns and mines do at first seem a sound choice for survival horror, but soon the sun-bathed locales just failed to add any atmosphere as you fled the virused hordes.
Chris and Jill at sea
The next side-instalment to the series, Resident Evil Revelations - exclusive to the rather splendid looking Nintendo 3DS - looks to tackle this problem straight away. Revelations, or at least part of it, will take place on a tanker of some sort with no sign of sun or sand. This altogether looks to be an environment that suits the horror genre, which is a must to make everything else work down the line. One hopes that this will not lead to a ghost ship farce with silly nonsensical baddies with bloodied sailor suits and eye patches feasting on your brains.
As you can guess from above, details are thin on the ground at the moment, but it seems at the moment that the storyline will be tied into the very first game – possibly through flashbacks to the original game's iconic mansion over the course of the game. Our old friends Chris and Jill may even be joined by a surprise quest from an old fan favourite. One of Resident Evil 2's secret playable characters, Hunk, is definitely doing his thing at sea too, but whether he does so along with Chris and Jill also left for us to ponder. Here’s hoping that he is playable once more.
In terms of visuals, the details for the 3DS’ graphical capabilities are thin on the ground. It is probable that the preview bits that have been released thus far are pre-rendered cinematics and do not represent gameplay power. Of course, that means that we have no idea of any other details – everything from the control system to the weapons and indeed exactly what form the foes will be taking is still unknown.
Evil comes at you in 3D
What is concrete, however, is that this will be the first Resident Evil game that will throw its scares directly at our faces in 3D. The presently available trailer naturally cannot do this justice but the dual screen layout promised by Nintendo should deliver a projected image of zombie terror be it in cut-scenes or (more importantly) during live action. This could be a real game changer as 3D in games is to be as monumental and soon integral to the experience as the HD and online facets are today.
Overall, first impressions suggest a real return to form, the setting is scary once again and the narrative looks to be both intricate and exciting with generous dollops of fan service and good old-fashioned over-the-top movie dialogue to boot. As a launch game, this should place the 3DS in a comfortable position to succeed the hugely popular DS empire.