Review: Resident Evil Revelations 2
To go along with the game’s dual scenarios, we’ve provided two reviews. You can find both in this one gigantic post!
All four episodes of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 are now available. Capcom has wrapped up what’s been one of the best Resident Evil experiences in years. While not without its flaws, Revelations 2 is a success that displays the publisher’s willingness to still appeal to the series’ longtime fanbase, while continuing to push the series forwards with new mechanics, all while drawing inspiration from other modern survival hits.
The story lends itself nicely to the episodic format, with each episode punctuated by speculation-worthy cliffhangers that made the week-long wait in between each episode a fun experience in itself, with fans taking it to social media and message boards to discuss their theories. Having played the entire game before the first episode even launched, I missed out on this aspect of the game’s episodic delivery, but it was still satisfying to see all my friends share their thoughts as each week went by.
Claire Redfield and Barry Burton make their long-awaited return into the series’ longstanding lore, bringing with them brand-new faces that have become more than worthy additions to the series’ already memorable cast. Barry’s daughter, Moira, joins Claire in her scenario, which sees the pair of TerraSave ladies wake up in a prison cell with their wrists banded by fear-controlled bracelets. The concept of “fear” itself figures strongly into the narrative’s proceedings. Barry, on the other hand, is joined by Natalia; a little girl with supernatural abilities that lets her sees enemies as mist through obstructions. Moira and Natalia’s specific abilities translate nicely into this game’s form of cooperative play.
It’s worth noting from the get-go that Revelations 2’s campaign won’t be playable online, despite its focus on co-op. It’s more akin to the co-op featured in Resident Evil Zero, and it works intuitively. Moira and Natalia serve as support characters, revealing hidden items strewn about the atmospheric locales while also offering their own form of offensive assistance. Moira finds a crowbar shortly after the first episode commences, which she can use to not only open doors, but also attack incoming enemies. Her flashlight is the key ingredient to her repertoire. Shining the light on foes blinds them temporarily, leaving them open to melee attacks or shots from Claire. Once downed, you can then zap back to Moira and finish off the monsters by impaling your crowbar into them. It’s an immensely satisfying juggling of character control that results in some great and highly tense encounters as the game moves along its 6-8 hour duration.
Natalia also provides her own unique form of support to Barry in his scenario. She can pinpoint where enemies are located by simply pointing her finger at shrouds of colored mist. This comes in handy for those, like me, that want to employ stealth as much as possible. You get a nice upper-hand having an idea of where enemies are located. And about those enemies…Those who disliked the lack of variety with the Ooze in the original Revelations will be happy to know that Revelations 2’s roster of enemies are an outstanding step up. The Afflicted are your standard foes in Claire’s campaign. These tortured, weapon-wielding enemies display a lot of rage and downright insanity, making them unsettling adversaries despite getting accustomed to them as the episodes go on. You also have zombie-like enemies in Barry’s scenario which will largely appeal to old-school fans. But the highlight definitely has to be the Revenant and the Glasp.
The Revenant are disturbing creatures that were created by splicing together various body parts, including two heads. The result is something much more frightening than even the Regenerators, especially with how they behave and move towards you once they become aware of your presence. What’s also nice is how these enemies are a nice callback to the series’ not too distant past, in a way that I won’t spoil for those who may just now be getting into the game from the start. While these monsters suffer the “glowing weakpoint” syndrome, which can be revealed by Natalia’s pointing mechanic, they’re still the reason for many intense and downright scary confrontations in the game. Where’s a flamethrower when you need one?!
The Glasp are similarly menacing, and a little more difficult to contend with initially. Reason being, they’re invisible. Unless you’re Natalia. She can make out their figure by exposing colored mist. After this exposure, you switch back to Barry and unload at the location the little girl is pointing towards. This co-operative strategy makes for some satisfying combat scenarios against these insect-like invisible foes that have a truly frightening design when you look at them up close (after they’re dead, of course!). And the dread is increased when you realize that they can kill you in one hit. You can also utilize smoke-screen bombs to reveal these monsters. And that’s just one of the several types of secondary items you have at your disposal.
You can also use firebombs and explosives all by combining bottles with alcohol and other properties that are signified. You can also use tourniquets and disinfectants. The latter gets rid of bile that covers your screen after being too close to a Sploder as it goes boom, while the former stops bleeding. It’s no secret that Revelations 2 has borrowed from other survival games like The Last of Us and even Tomb Raider, but it does so greatly without coming off as simply being a clone of its inspirations. And with these inspirations comes a mechanic that I absolutely loved: stealth.
Classic Resident Evil has always been about using your ammunition and health supplies wisely, and avoiding combat as much as you could. Revelations 2 goes back to that cautious style of play and encourages it by introducing stealth. The mechanic is simple, you could slowly walk up to an enemy from behind and execute an instant melee kill. You can also crouch and move around while in that stance. I found stealth to be the best option to take down the Revenants, especially since they could be quite the bullet sponges if you don’t have any firebombs or if you don’t know where their weak point is.
The lack of bosses in the game may be seen as a negative, but I preferred to have lesser big baddies to contend with, especially since each encounter was memorable and satisfying to take part in. It’s also neat how a certain boss can be defeated in either Claire of Barry’s scenario, leaving the choice up to the player. This brings back a feeling I haven’t had since Resident Evil 2, where what you do in one scenario affects the other. There are a few moments throughout the game where things can be altered for one scenario depending on the actions you take in the other, and this lends itself nicely to future playthroughs. To cap this notion off, there are also two endings you can achieve, and it all hinders on a pivotal decision you make in the penultimate episode.
One of the things I really adored in the game was the inclusion of puzzles. There are more brain teasers here than there were in Resident Evils 4-6 combined. They’re nothing highly complex, but their inclusion is more than welcome, and they figure seamlessly into their respective locations. Claire’s chapter in Episode 3 is the most puzzle-filled portion of the game, which also ends up being the best chapter in Claire’s entire scenario (complete with an amazing, old-school boss fight at the end). Barry’s scenario is no slouch, though. His tale also comes with its own memorable moments that are quite creepy and eerie. Walking through a dark forest while being pursued by the aforementioned Revenant ended up being a highly unsettling experience. I was truly relieved once I made it out of those woods. And that’s what surprised me about Barry’s scenario. Despite him being fully armed (unlike Claire), Barry still had some great horror moments that were free of pointless action. The entire game itself is free from the action-lusting demons that have plagued other recent entries in the series. And for that I’m truly grateful.
My one big complaint is that some of the areas you explore are quite bland. And you’re essentially, for the most part, traversing the same places as Barry after you beat an episode’s first half as Claire. But having said that, Barry still has his own exclusive areas to explore. One of them, in Episode 4, is absolutely amazing and will bring fans back to the roots of the series. It’s a shame that you don’t spend more time in said locale, though. But, hey, it was a beautiful trip down memory lane and served as the highlight of the season finale. Another thing that might irk some are the visuals, which are representative of the game’s budget perhaps. But even so, the art style is fitting and the whole island you’re trapped in becomes one of the best settings in the series.
The game offers hours of fun for fans and newcomers alike. There are multiple modes to tackle after beating the episodes, like invisible mode and countdown mode, on top of all the difficulties. There are also filters and costumes to unlock as well as the inclusion of Raid Mode, which to some can be worth the price of admission alone. I’ve spent hours with Raid Mode and I’m quite addicted to it. Though I do miss how it was structured in the original Revelations. Now, with the online compatibility coming really soon, I can definitely see myself playing the mode for a long time to come. The same goes for the main campaign itself; it’s highly replayable thanks to its solid pacing and lack of filler moments.
Revelations 2 evokes memories of the classic games with its survival horror elements, with an acceptable amount of action that never reaches the levels seen in Resident Evils 5 and 6. Capcom took the marriage between modern and classic Resident Evil from the original Revelations and have renewed its vows wonderfully, resulting in the most traditional Resident Evil in years.
Second Opinion: CJ’s Take
The episodic Resident Evil: Revelations 2 release is over. The full game is now in our hands, and gamers and Resident Evil fans alike can finally judge the game in full. Being a Resident Evil fan can be a bit difficult as the series itself is turbulent, every once and awhile giving us glimpses of the series’ golden years, while also reminding us that things have changed significantly and probably won’t revert to what longtime fans crave. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a reminder of this truth, but it’s also quite unique in that it succeeds where Resident Evil 6 faltered.
Let’s get this out of the way: No, Revelations 2 doesn’t exactly have a good story. None of the Resident Evil games truly have, though, as I’m sure many of us can admit to. Revelations 2 piles on the cheesy character dialogue, dastardly evil antagonist monologues and motivations, and includes a hefty hand of plot contrivances that make its heroes seem extraordinarily lucky despite their circumstances. It’s silly and absurd at times, but it can even compelling in that old-school kind of “Oh man, that thing is gonna happen!” sort of way. At worst, Revelation 2‘s story is inconsequential; at best, amusing. But overall, it’s about on level with games like Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4. And the game probably didn’t need to be episodic at all, but with just a week wait in between each episode and a 1-2 hour playtime each, I can’t fault it too much.
Where Resident Evil: Revelations 2 surprises most, outside of its goofy charm, is its gameplay. As I mentioned prior in our episode 1 review, Revelations 2 seemingly borrows from the competition. Looking at successful titles in the adventure and horror genres, such examples as The Last of Us, Alan Wake, The Evil Within, and a little Tomb Raider, Revelations 2′s attempts at being an appealing game are quite clear, and for the most part it works to its advantage rather than detriment. Its inspirations are obvious, with me finding myself thinking “that reminds me of X-game” from time to time, but it leads to Revelations 2 being quite decent of a game, and in my opinion one of the better Resident Evil games we’ve seen in several years.
Sticking to the formula created by Resident Evil 4 and adapted to Revelations, with its introduction of walking and shooting, Revelations 2‘s feel is noticeably that of a toned down Resident Evil 6, mechanically speaking. The first Revelations shared this similar play feeling, but Revelations 2 is a tad more refined and less restrictive than the previous title. The usual set of weapons can be expected, with a large gameplay focus being put onto shooting obvious and glowing enemy weak-points. Over the top flips, crawls, and dives have also been replaced with an expanded dodge mechanic as seen in the first Revelations.
Revelations 2 tries to appeal to classic Resident Evil conventions in a few noticeable ways: puzzles are bumped up a notch from previous games with backtracking being necessary and some minor exploration – although many puzzles still boil down to simply finding the right key. Notes found within the environments have received a significant focus in this game, with a fair amount of memorable files aiming to evoke the same uneasiness found in earlier games in the series. Environmental design has also been given some much needed attention this time around, with a variety of eerily designed areas awash in atmospheric fog, creepy imagery, and visual variety.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 may be a surprising Resident Evil title, but it’s not without its share of problems. Whereas it borrows a lot from successful games released within the last couple of years, it still falls flat in being an entirely compelling game. Over the course of the game’s 8-10 hour or so total runtime, the game suffers from repetitive gameplay, with one of its biggest offenders being the task of moving boxes as a means to climb walls and obstacles. Gunplay doesn’t have much “oomph” to it either, as most enemies are only somewhat reactive to where bullets strike them, and a lack of explosive head-shots leave something to be desired. It’s a Resident Evil game, I need head pops!
Unlike the first Revelations, monster design is far more diverse in Revelations 2, and that’s very much appreciated. Enemies range from mummy-type zombies, aggressive infected that run and use melee weapons, to mutations that require specialized strategies to dispatch. The game’s chapter 3 boss and final boss are worth a special mention, as these fights were surprisingly fun and exciting. Revelations 2′s thematic crush on German writer Franz Kafka especially comes into play with the game’s final boss and story – the homage is nothing too clever, but it doesn’t hurt to toss around some body horror themes once and awhile.
Saddled with an AI controlled co-op partner (Moira and Natalia), I expected Revelations 2 to fail at its attempts to balance the illusion of solo play scares, but with the dynamic mechanics of cooperative play. This time around players must swap characters in order to discover items in the environment and solve puzzles together, and it works rather well and is very reminiscent of Resident Evil 0 – a title I still believe has the best non-co-op co-op in the Resident Evil series. Partner AI isn’t intrusive, and there’s very little for me to complain about with Revelations 2‘s co-op outside of the lack of an online option when there’s local co-op available. It’s not like playing with a friend online is any less scary than playing on the same couch.
Being the PC port report guy on RoH, I often tackle the PC versions of games we review and state my impressions on port quality in some capacity. Having played Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, and Revelations 1 on PC and coming away with positive impressions, I’m fairly surprised by Revelations 2‘s PC issues. Unlike the first Revelations and Resident Evil 6, games running on the same engine that perform exceptionally well on the platform, Revelations 2 suffers from a lot of FPS slowdown and stutter. Occasional drops in performance will occur and are seemingly unrelated to graphical options chosen. The highly addictive Raid Mode is especially affected by this issue in the PC port, as some environments chug along, making the point of that entire mode moot as it’s increasingly difficult to aim and maintain a high score when the game stutters to such a degree. The PC version is hard to recommend because of this, and I truly hope it’s resolved.
Ultimately, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a surprisingly good Resident Evil game and an overall pretty decent game. It may fumble the line between honoring and emulating, between other games and the series’ past, but it works out well enough. The game isn’t fantastic by any means, and at times its overreaching outside of its budget release restraints are noticeable thanks to inconsistent visuals, and it may be bogged down by repetitive gameplay, but it’s big step in the right direction for this series. In some ways, the game leaves a definitive note saying “this is what the Resident Evil series is now”, and that we probably won’t see a classic return to form again. Its creators are transfixed on an idea that Resident Evil needs to be brash, not slow and precise in its scares. And out of all of the post-Resident Evil 4 games that have carried this torch, Revelations 2 hits the right marks and is a compromise I can get behind.