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Resident Evil Revelations: Hands on with Capcom's ship-shape HD-make

The brilliant 3DS Resi comes to consoles, but is it a worthy port?

It hasn't been a good time to be a console-owning Resident Evil fan. The glory days of Resis 1, 2, 3 and 4 (not forgetting Zero and Code Veronica) are now distant memories, with recent instalments having taken the series in different, often uglier directions.

As if that wasn't bad enough, these console-owning fans have also had to glare at 3DS owners enjoying Resident Evil: Revelations, arguably the finest Resi instalment in years and the only game in recent memory that actually feels like a traditional series entry.

The envy stops now; Revelations is getting an HD port and it will be released on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC in May. We went hands-on with the new version last week and while it's still in need of some tuning, the early signs are positive.

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For those not familiar with the game, Resident Evil Revelations is set between Resi 4 and 5. After Chris Redfield and his new partner Jessica Sherawat go missing, Jill Valentine and her Matt Berry / Kurt Russell lookalike partner Parker Luciani are sent to find him at his last known location - a cruise ship called the SS Queen Zenobia.

As luck would have it, the boat is infected with a marine version of the T-Virus called the T-Abyss virus, so it's up to Jill and Parker to find Chris and Jessica while emptying umpteen rounds into the heads of the countless mutants onboard.

Since it was originally a handheld game, Revelations is split into bite-sized episodes - each lasting anything up to an hour - designed for shorter play sessions. The section we went hands-on with was episode 4, in which Jill and Parker have to reach the ship's bilge by making their way through a darkened casino and crew quarters, before ultimately confronting a key character who's turned into a zombie (no spoilers).

As an HD remake of a 3DS game, the new HD visuals are expectedly a mixed bag. Character models have been upscaled and as such the main heroes look slightly better than they did on Nintendo's handheld. During cut-scenes though, we noticed angular edges on their clothing and it was clear that they're still nowhere near as detailed as those in HD-only Resi games.

Level textures are also pretty ropey. Walk up to any wall or decoration in the 3DS version - such as one of the many grand paintings that can be found in parts of the SS Queen Zenobia - and everything remains well and good. Go browsing in the 1080p game and said paintings become a mess of pixels. Much like a zoo, the key to getting the most out what's on offer here is to keep your distance.

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But as ever, gameplay is king and in that respect for fans of survival horror Revelations is already a better HD prospect than the fifth and sixth games. The twin-stick gameplay - only an option on 3DS if you bought the Circle Pad Pro - suits the game perfectly, and the chapter we played felt just as atmospheric and masterfully paced as when we first experienced it on handheld.

The addictive Raid Mode, a sort of Mercenaries alternative that sees players either going it solo or playing online-co-op as they gun down waves of enemies while levelling up and earning weapons upgrades, is still a treat, and the promise of new characters (including fan favourite Hunk) is a welcome one.

What it essentially boils down to is this - the 3DS version of Resident Evil Revelations is one of the handheld's finest games and successfully captures the mood and feel of the series' golden age. Dodgy textures and lack of 3D effect aside, assuming the main adventure remains exactly the same on HD consoles, this is set to be one of the best Resident Evil console titles in years.

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