Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski reckons big-budget survival horror games are dead in the water; that there's no money in the genre unless you sex it up with guns and explosions. Disagree? Well, here's your chance to prove him wrong.
Unlike recent action-heavy entries in the Resident Evil series, Revelations is pure old-school horror; an eerie, methodical trawl into the depths of a creaking cruise liner, where a faint SOS beacon lures Jill Valentine, Chris Redfield and friends into a compelling spiral of deceit and dismay.
Don't let the fact that this is a HD port of a 3DS game throw you off; Revelations is an expansive and progressive action-thriller, which expertly weaves the atmosphere and pacing of the earlier Resis with the fraught over-the-shoulder gunplay that defines the series in the modern era.
In fact, Revelations owes its success to its humble origins. Since the 3DS didn't have the guts to throw monsters at you like they're going out of fashion, the original developers had to make every last one count. Even the lowliest mutants soak up more bullets than you can afford to spare; survival depends on your ability to keep a steady aim under pressure, disarming your foes by literally dis-arming them with a few well placed shots and moving in close for a melee kill. That's easier said than done however, as the claustrophobic level design always leaves you with less manoeuvring space than you'd like.
Since the original was designed with the Circle Pad Pro attachment in mind, the controls translate well to the Xbox pad. If anything, we'd say they translate a little too well. Part of Resi's charm has always been in rubbing up against the limitations of the controls. The 'tank style' movement of the characters remains the same, making those narrow corridors that much narrower, but swapping between weapons is now as simple as tapping the d-pad, so there's no longer any frantic mid-fight fumbles.
This means Revelations loses some of its challenge in its move to the big screen, something Capcom has attempted to fix with the new 'Infernal' remix mode. Unfortunately it's cement-mixer hard, and almost impossible with the basic weapons. We'd have preferred a halfway house between the two.
Another downer is that the main campaign doesn't support co-op - realistically, the levels would have to be re-designed from scratch for that to work - but Raid, an arcade-stylised score attack mode, does. These deficits notwithstanding, this is a superb port of what may be the best survival-horror game on Xbox since Dead Space first lurched onto the scene.
After a few iffy Resis, this is a Revelation
- More atmosphere than a sketchy pub
- Superb fusion of Resis old and new
- Episodic structure translates well on Xbox
- Creaky, groany setting is an instant classic
- HD visuals belie its 3DS roots