Resident Evil: Revelations

Homecoming.

Resident Evil's in danger of spreading itself a little thin. In between this year's double-header of The Mercenaries 3D and Operation Raccoon City, it's easy to pine for a true, dyed-in-the-wool Resident Evil game one that acknowledges that the shooting was once a sideshow, and that returns to the series' survival horror roots.

Some fans would argue that there hasn't been such a game for some time: Resident Evil 4, for all of its unquestionable brilliance - and perhaps because of it - has set the series on a strange trajectory, with subsequent games dissecting its corpse and trying to get a taste of its success.

Resident Evil 5 limped on with 4's action shooter formula, adding a partner into the mix but subtracting some of the spark, and lacking the indefinable magic lent by the series' then departed creator Shinji Mikami.

On the horizon there's Raccoon City, Canadian developer Slant Six's co-operative and competitive shooter: a game that runs with that shooter philosophy with such gusto that it finds itself in uncharted territory for Resident Evil. It'll find itself in a straight-up fight with Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 when it launches later this year; it remains to be seen whether Raccoon City's novelty will be enough for it to fend for itself.

Finally, there's The Mercenaries 3D, the 3DS outing that attempts to spin Resident Evil 4's post-credits shooting arenas out into a fully-fledged title. How successfully it manages this will become clear when the game finally launches later this week.

But with all this crackle of gunfire drowning out the more traditional creaking of doors and groaning of the undead, it's understandable that more attention is being paid to the 3DS' other entry, Resident Evil: Revelations. A return to the slow and campy dread of the series' first decade, it feels like the first true Resident Evil in some time.

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If there was an award for best video game posterior (and there should be) Capcom would take all the plaudits. Jill's swinging behind joins P.N.03's Vanessa Schneider's in the publisher's esteemed collection.

How keen it is to cling to its heritage and drive home the point that this is a return to the series' roots is clear from the off. Jill Valentine, protagonist of the first game and here modelling another of her many redesigns, wakes in a room filled with thick oak furniture and ornate brass fittings.

It's the Spencer Estate of the 1996 game, or at least a version of it, recreated aboard a cruise ship in a location born from brilliantly twisted logic. After all, what's more spooky than a haunted house? A haunted house within a haunted ship that's sailing some haunted waters, is Capcom's charmingly strange reply.

Within that familiar setting, Revelations is a pitch-perfect recreation of the spirit of the original, and it doesn't skip any opportunities to reference its past. The room Jill wakes in is locked, a tightly fastened door control in one corner and a suspiciously closed wardrobe in the other.

At another end is a small bathroom, home to a shattered mirror and a bath filled with thick and dirty water. Drain it and there's a screwdriver, the perfect tool to unlock the door control and engage in the simple join-the-dots puzzle that lies beneath - but not before the monster in the closet unsurprisingly bursts out and lunges for Jill.

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