While The Mercenaries 3D had its moments, the overall package was as scrawny as one of Resident Evil's classic skinless dogs. There's long been an assumption that of the two Resi games Capcom announced for the 3DS, Revelations would be the "proper" one. It's an assertion that Capcom itself is doing little to dispel; Mercs 3D may have been written off as a stop-gap game, but if that helps to make Revelations seem like a grander, more appetising prospect... well, so much the better.
And to be fair, there's already evidence that Revelations will be the full-fat Resi game we wanted in the first place. In contrast to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it E3 demo (the same one later bunged on the Mercs 3D cart), Capcom's latest presentation showed off a wide range of features. We'll be getting no less than four playable characters in the main campaign: a pair of new heroes alongside Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine. There's a new mechanic that requires players to scan the environments for hidden items; it looks a bit gimmicky, but at least it's a fresh idea. The creaky old ship, shown in the very first teaser, will be one location, but it looks like we'll be visiting lots of places - including a snowy mountain range, complete with invisible Hunters.
Revelations' story is broken down into chapters, many of them ending in cliffhangers, and from the brief montage shown so far, it looks as if the overall plot - written by Cowboy Bebop scribe Dai Sato - could be gloriously cheesy. That's certainly true of much of the dialogue I've heard thus far, and for the first time you'll be able to hear it in six different languages; to demonstrate this, Capcom's presentation replayed a brief clip for each tongue - providing an international crash course in how to gasp and say "Where is Chris?"
And then there's Raid mode - a score-based mini-game that may offer as much content as the whole of Mercs 3D. Here you'll revisit repurposed areas from the main story, killing foes as swiftly as possible. Stages are generally more linear than Mercs' open arenas, encouraging you to push on through the gauntlet until you reach the end, where a rank is awarded. Naturally there are plenty of ammo and reward objects to grab along the way, but there are also score bonuses nab for tidy headshots and the like.
Between outings you'll be free to tinker with your loadouts, buying new weapons and tinkering with your existing firearms. Through one of my typical cock-ups, I managed to start one round with only a knife equipped, and yet I was surprised at how effective I still managed to be - especially when I picked up a 100 per cent accuracy bonus at the end. There's a far greater selection of weapons available from the shop than the limited sets for each of the Mercs, and in general there seems to be a greater emphasis on efficient, precision kills, rather than the previous game's combo-building. Many of the foes have critical spots that can be targeted for extra points, and occasionally you'll encounter an enhanced version of the bread-and-butter foes - monsters who are tougher, stronger or faster than their peers.
It has to be said that Raid has all the makings of an addictive little timewaster, especially as it seems to work well in local co-op, too. It's a more accessible shooter than The Mercs, but it could be potentially just as addictive. It certainly seems as if Capcom has been listening to its critics. Revelations seems to have overcome the animation problems that took the sheen off its predecessor, and this time we've been promised that we'll have the option to delete our save data. If Capcom can see fit to throw in online leaderboards, Raid could end up being the game that Resident Evil fans wanted Mercs 3D to be. Here's hoping.
Resident Evil: Revelations is due for release on 3DS on January 27.