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Resident Evil Revelations: The best of old and new

Hands-on with Capcom's ambitious handheld Resi...

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SURPRISE SURPRISE
These moments work because they burst from nowhere to shatter the exploration silence. The nature of the Zenobia, a network of vents and maintenance ducts, allows mutants to emerge at the developer's beck and call. Capcom have been peddling this stuff since that dog leapt through Spencer Mansion's window. Knowing that quivering meat sacks might ambush from any piece of innocuous furniture turns any corridor into a scrunched-faced creep. It also means we can't look at an Ikea catalogue without instantly pooping ourselves. Splarg.3

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The fact that Revelations scares us at all is a minor miracle. As former Nintendo handhelds will attest, it's hard to make a grown man jump with a four-inch screen. It's hard to take a tiny zombie seriously - you'd just flick their heads off, wouldn't you? 3DS benefits from the intense concentration needed to maintain the 3D sweet spot. Our eyes are drawn in for a closer look, setting us up for sudden spooks. And that tangible sense of distance between Jill's face and the mutant mouths comes into its own when the distance begins to shrink. We yelped several times.

We should give a special shout-out to Capcom's sound bods. Plugging in headphones adds an aural depth to match the visual trickery. Footsteps pad on carpet and clunk on metal. Shotgun blasts tear the soundtrack in two. Muties moan from unseen crannies.

Occasional trips outside are real eye... sorry, ear-openers, perfectly capturing the oppressive silence of the open sea. There are some great music cues, too. Bursting through a set of doors to the ship's opulent stairway is one of the game's standout moments, but it'd be nothing without the epic organ music. It's Titanic meets Ganon's Tower.

We're not consigned to the Zenobia's claustrophobic innards. Revelations mimics a TV show with an episodic format, right down to the 'previously on' spiel that kicks in when you boot up the game. It not only chops the tale into portable-friendly chunks, but enables the yarn to hop through time and space without seeming too disjointed.

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An Ooze encounter causes Jill to flash back to an earlier trip to the beach, where she discovers gelatinous lumps hogging the sand. It serves as ample - cynics might say convenient - opportunity to warm up your trigger finger on sluggish foes.

Jill's day at the seaside also introduces the Genesis scanner. Point this sucker at a shambling horror and its zaps their DNA in order to manufacture vaccines - health potions, basically. Each monster contributes a chunk of data, though each breed contributes less with each subsequent scan.

A convoluted way of earning health, yes, but as the difficulty begins to skyrocket you'll be guzzling those vials like a man possessed. This raises a cool risk/reward dilemma, too - do you risk scanning a charging mutated koi carp or do you put a bullet in it?

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