The first "Resident Evil" in 1996 defined the horror-survival genre. You portrayed a top cop fighting zombie monsters and devil dogs in a sinister mansion.
"Resident Evil" had a lot going for it, starting with Hitchcock-ian camera angles, always pointing in on a room's action from a ceiling or a baseboard, as you slowly crept through the terror. Man, that was creepy.
The sound was incredible. Instead of using music to spoil upcoming scares, rooms were frighteningly quiet until a devil dog smashed through a window at your head.
There was so much to do: find ammunition and first-aid plants; solve puzzles to open doors; and kill nasty zombies. It was a pitch-perfect masterpiece for its time.
In the 16 years since then, the series has given us eerie sequels ("Resident Evil 2"), horrible shooters ("Resident Evil: Outbreak"), weird movies, and a masterpiece that wasn't scary at all ("Resident Evil 4").
Now here comes "Resident Evil: Revelations," coming out Tuesday for Nintendo 3DS.
You portray Jill and Chris (heroine and hero of that first "Resident Evil") in 2005, between the timelines of "Resident Evil 4" and "5."
A group of bioterrorists has destroyed a Mediterranean island city that existed on solar power. The island has gone all "grrr" with zombie-esque creature things filled with disgusting fluid.
The bioterrorists want to destroy more of the world. You should probably stop them.
So you, as Jill, go on missions with a peer. Other times, you portray Chris.
This sequel has traditional templates. You walk slowly through a decrepit dark ship, and through snowstorms and other locales, shooting zombielike creatures and devil dogs.
The tone is nice and yuck. Camera angles are contemporary third-person, over-the-shoulder shots. The sound is sufficiently startling.
But here's the wrinkle. You use a gun-styled X-ray scanner as you walk room to room, to find hidden bullets and secret items, such as keys and grenades.
This "Metroid"-ish scanner process is my least-favorite thing in "Revelations." It doubles the time it takes me to explore rooms. Bah humbug.
On the other hand, in other "Evils," we had to find hidden items without the help of a scanner, so maybe it's OK. I don't know. I'm conflicted.
You also search for bullets constantly, because even though you're a soldier sent to battle a possible army of evil, you arrive equipped with ... a few bullets.
Um, what kind of banana republic military organization sends a soldier into battle armed with one pistol and a few bullets?
Even when you find bullets, the game from the start won't let you carry more than 30 at a time. I'm pretty sure my uniform ought to hold more than 30 bullets.
Bottom line: "Revelations" is pretty good. It moves smoothly. It looks and sounds terrific. The monster-killing is satisfactory. The scanner is tedious.
And it's illogical about the ammunition. But, you know, it's hard to criticize a zombie-ish game for being illogical.
("Resident Evil: Revelations" by Capcom retails for $50 for Nintendo 3DS -- Plays fun. Looks great. Challenging. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence and language. Three and one-half stars out of four stars.)
Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@review journal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.