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Resident Evil: Revelations - a bite-sized return to the original's restless spirit

OK, so the setting's a boat not a mansion - but still

As hard as this might be to believe for anyone under a certain age, there was a time when the Resident Evil games were scary. And not the way Resident Evil 6 is scary, either. Properly unnerving. Tense, jump off the sofa kind of fear.

Capcom moved on, of course, and realised that non-stop shambling hordes and fast-paced crowd control could offer a different kind of tension. But Revelations, released for Nintendo's handheld console last year, offers something of a return - in tone if not mechanics - to Resi's past. For one thing, it recaptures to the ornate, Gothic visual style of the first game's mansion, even though the game technically takes place on a boat.

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The Zenobia is an abandoned cruise liner, stuffed with icky monsters just itching to bite Jill Valentine's face off. It's a place that's designed to be explored at a slower pace than the locations of more recent Resis, with a scanning device that lets you search out hidden storage supplies as well as progression that recalls the earlier games' occasional backtracking. But if the structure is based on earlier Resident Evils, the combat has been taken straight from Resident Evil 4, with an over-the-shoulder viewpoint that should be instantly familiar.

As HD updates go, Revelations sounds more promising than some of Capcom's other recent efforts, with enemies originally designed for the handheld's tiny screen getting some much-needed cosmetic surgery for their appearance on HDTV (expect scruffy textures and jaggy outlines nonetheless). There's also the promise of an expanded Raid mode for either solo play or online co-op. This series of delicious action-packed gauntlets rates your performance, before showering you with loot that can be used for even more efficient runs.

In terms of additional content, the options are limited but worthwhile - new playable characters like Rachel, whose zipper only seems to go halfway up, and a couple of new monster types, one of which you'll encounter in Raid mode. Revelations has a bite-sized chapter structure that might not work on console, but otherwise, this spooky spin-off could be the perfect antidote for those who took one look at Resident Evil 6's action movie styling and felt betrayed.

Resident Evil: Revelations hits UK shelves on 24th May. It's out on 21st May in the US.

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