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CVG
12 Reviews

Resident Evil Revelations

Ooze cruise

Noises we don't normally make during portable gaming: argh, wah, yoinks, eeep, brrrr. For one, portable gaming is often done in polite company and the other bus passengers don't want to sit next to a whimpering fruitcake.

Then there's the matter of the handheld's diminutive screen. Can an image the size of a Freddo Frog really give us the willies? And can you break a sweat with sausage-like digits in view?

Revelations biggest revelation is that it can scare. Capcom ratchet up the tension over the story's eight or so hours, a nervous drip escalating into a full hull breach swirling with murky dread. They're not above firing up the bilge pump for a cheap scare - the game takes great pleasure in dropping corpses from unseen crannies - but it's quite happy to accumulate.

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How? In the cinematic tension of the ghost ship setting. In the narrative tension of shady protagonists. In the mechanical tension of aiming at a fast-approaching horror with your feet rooted firmly to the ground.

As a pure piece of horror film scene-setting, the game is a triumph. Jill Valentine and Russell Crowe look-alike Parker Luciani are sent to investigate abandoned cruise liner the Queen Zenobia. As our duo arrives on the sea-lashed deck - complete with ominous tolling bell (a nice Resi 4 nod) - Capcom flip 3DS's hidden graphics switch.

Blinding floodlights, crashing waves, Jill's impossibly reflective bottom - tiny details that draw in the eye. A four-inch screen seems so much bigger when it has the atmosphere to envelop you.

Few portable games have the looks to tempt eyes away from televised delights, but Revelations is one of them. Having proved its worth in Mercenaries 3D, Capcom's MT Framework engine ups its game to offer dynamic lighting and particle effects to put most Wii games to shame.

Watching shadows dance off a swinging light bulb is pretty enough to distract us from the approaching monster hordes. If only the BSAA handbook covered what to do in event of real-time shadow rendering.

With eyes well catered for, you'll want to invest in a pair of headphones. Revelations' meaty sound mix is wasted on the 3DS's in-built speakers, the weedy groans and moans no more menacing than an electronic birthday card. You need to hear the lonely slapping of wetsuit bootee on gore-soaked floor or pick out the gargled cries of distant slurping horrors.

One boss fight involving a demented woman in the air ducts isn't the same without hearing her creepy sing-song ramblings as she scurries to get you. And you don't want to deny yourself the full strength cheese of Resi's voice cast.

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EXTRA DIMENSION

Great 3D lures the senses in further still. Ramping up the slider results in a similar depth to Ocarina 3D, subtly reinforcing the dimensions of the levels. Considering this is a game about proximity - namely that between Jill's soft face and a monster's snapping teeth - the option to better appreciate that distance is to be welcomed. Those with strong peepers can ramp up the effect further still with three depth settings.

The max setting pushes even our tempered peepers to straining, though the increased space is as pronounced as we've seen it on 3DS. Worth sacrificing future ocular health for? Probably not.

Good looks are no substitute for good design, and here the Zenobia delivers the goods. A once-grand cruise liner, it offers all the key ingredients for a great house of horrors: a claustrophobic warren of maintenance corridors, ballrooms large enough to host fevered shootouts, and faded guest suites that could have been wrenched from Spencer Mansion.

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