By Bryan Smith on March 19, 2015 at 2:18pm
There has been a pretty bad image for “Resident Evil” games after “Resident Evil 4.” With “Resident Evil 5” taking a strongly action-oriented approach as opposed to being scary, the horror simply wasn’t there anymore. “Resident Evil 6” walked even further away with zombies with guns. Most people I’ve talked to speak ill about “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.” There was one diamond in that rough pile though - “Resident Evil Revelations.” While it doesn’t exactly match up with the older games before “RE4,” it showed that “Resident Evil” could still be somewhat scary and play well.
Now comes along “Resident Evil Revelations 2.” I’ve been rather wishy-washy on how I felt with this entry. At first, I was ecstatic to see Claire Redfield return along side with Moira Burton, a character debuting who was mentioned a long time ago in the first game. Then came the episodic release of the game with microtransactions (for Raid Mode). My smile flipped as I prodded it skeptically. Barry Burton, a character who is not shown enough love in the series, is revealed debuting as a main protagonist, and I was happy again. I had an emotional ride with this one before the game even game out. How does it fare out? Well, if I were Barry in this instance, I would say, “I wish it was a Jill Sandwich, but this will do fine.”
Some Decent Upgrades from the First "Revelations"
While not a traditional sequel, “Revelations 2” follows Claire and Moira as TerraSave members (first featured in “Resident Evil Degeneration” and vaguely resembling efforts from Terragrigia). The two are kidnapped and have to survive. Meanwhile, Barry comes in to save Claire and Moira. On the way, he finds a little girl named Natalia Korda. She tags along to figure out where Claire and Moira are.
In comparison to the first “Revelations,” the controls have been fine-tuned. For one thing, dodging can be performed at any time, as opposed to the fickle mechanics of waiting for monsters to attack. Quick time events (QTEs) are also removed, which comes as a sigh of relief. They only served to slow the pace for a cheap kill and additional playthroughs were excruciating with them.
It’s important to note that Moira and Natalia don’t use guns (in the campaign at least). Moira has a phobia of guns (which will be very clear why later) and refuses to use them while Natalia is just a little girl. I don’t expect her to know how to take the safety off a gun, let alone reload perfectly. Instead, Moira has a flashlight and crowbar, which stuns and hits enemies respectfully, and Natalia can find bricks to throw and hurt enemies and point at objects/enemies that Barry can’t see normally. It’s a small help, not a major change, but it certainly helps over how pitiful past A.I. partners were in previous games (I’m looking at you, Parker).
Control Feels Right
It’s strange to have that feeling of decent control but not completely in control. For “Resident Evil” standards, that’s actually good. It makes the characters feel human, which is the point. We are fleshy humans that get torn asunder with these kinds of monsters (aside from death scenes; still cheap looking compared to “Resident Evil 4”). The four playable characters are capable of doing a lot, which might sound very survival-horror like, but there’s a clear stiffness that says, “Wait, I’m human. I can’t back flip over and over, nor avoid every kind of attack known to man.”
Raid Mode is Surprisingly Good
Raid Mode from the first “Revelations” game felt more ambivalent than anything. It was there, but there just didn’t seem a lot of soul was put into them. This time around for “RER2,” though, I feel that Raid Mode is a nice step up. With the better control and setup, I had fun. It helps that they put in characters that I like and recognize that weren’t even in the campaign, such as Jill, Chris, Leon, Wesker, and HUNK to spice things up.
Unlike the campaign’s medals, Raid Mode’s medallion system is trying to achieve several manageable objectives, which unlocks more characters. In addition, characters can level up skills, health, ammo limits, guns, and more so medallion hunting becomes even easier. Weapons can also be found and evaluated for later use. The only downside to Raid Mode would be the added microtransactions feature and the whole lives/crystals thing. While they can be completely ignored as more crystals for respawns and weapons can be found regularly, they are there. This could very well be a starting point of future attempts, but as of now, just ignore them.
Claire, Moira, and Barry
At this point, certain characters in “Resident Evil” lore have been exhausted. A lot of people, myself included, are exhausted to see Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy taking the main scene. Other main characters, such as Claire, Barry, Jill Valentine, Rebecca Chambers, and even Ada Wong are often pushed to the background or flat-out ignored while the safe characters go through the same motions. Having Claire and Barry here is a great breath of fresh air. I also like that a small character from the first “Resident Evil” is getting her starring role here, much like Sherry Birkin did with “Resident Evil 6.”
While Claire and Moira’s back and forth isn’t as strong as other character dynamics, they do work well enough to see they care about each other. Moira herself is interesting, as she’s one of the first “Resident Evil” characters to shy away from guns for strong reasons. Barry is just like his old self from the first “Resident Evil.” He gets corny with his lines and he still holds true with his strong family values, despite his and Moira’s strained relationship.
Still Not Particularly Scary or Unsettling
I’m going to be blunt here. Having co-op in your horror game will almost 100 percent kill any kind of terrifying atmosphere or moment. It didn’t work with the past “Resident Evil” games that had co-op. It dragged “Dead Space 3” down quite a bit. I can’t stress this any more here; you either have co-op or horror. They can’t successfully co-exist without kneeing each other. The same thing applies here. I find it hard to be “spooked” or nervous when my AI or friend’s character says something like, “Holy shit, there’s more monsters,” or the character gets launched and I see them fly off. That makes me go, “Oh hey, there’s another enemy. Time to shoot them.”
Even with Moira and Natalia not being able to shoot, they can still attack and stun enemies, leaving them stunned for Claire and Barry to pick off without much of a threat (assuming you’re going for a regular playthrough). Nothing zaps the threat out of enemies when a flashlight or a brick from a relatively unarmed person stuns them. I’m going to compliment Ashley Graham from “Resident Evil 4.” People give her flack for essentially being a walking escort mission, but she has the best companion A.I. any “Resident Evil” game has had. All she had to do was follow you, stop when commanded, and hide. Any failure (aside from the rare hiccup) was on Leon’s part - your fault.
The same A.I. problem starting from “Resident Evil 5” still exists here for “RER2.” The partner can very well die from getting caught on an enemy as it eats his/her face. That isn’t the players’ fault when the A.I. can’t function right. This becomes more apparent when the game decides to throw numerous enemies thinking that the A.I. can help only to have both you and said A.I. flail about and die. That isn’t scary. That’s just annoying. That problem can be mitigated with a friend, but that just makes things even less scary to begin with to the point of asking why is this horror in the first place.
"Revelations" You Say? What "Revelations?"
This entry doesn’t seem to know what kind of identity it wants to take. Sure, it plays much like the first “Revelations” did with a run feature, but I’m seeing a lot of moments stripped from other “Resident Evil” games. There’s a moment where Claire and Moira are trapped in a cabin-like building where enemies are trying to break in and kill you, much like how Leon, Ashley, and Luis were in “RE4.” There also seems to be a very strong disconnect with the first “Revelations.” Events prior to the first “Revelations” aren’t practically ignored or not brought up at all, making me think, “Why is this called Revelations 2 in the first place?” There may be a brief throwaway line but not much that’s substantial. The first “Revelations” left certain key characters likely to plot again. Besides one ambiguous moment (which I shall not spoil here), there’s almost none of that here.
On the subject of confused placement, the whole game just … doesn’t come off as a fulfilling “Resident Evil” title. In the grand scheme of the universe, almost nothing happens to further the bio-terroism threats that plague this world. Other games had different viruses that caused victims to behave normally but be mind-controlled to attack and people being attacked out at sea. We just get a villain, the Overseer, who wants to use fear to make people into monsters. The Overseer almost mirrors Albert Wesker with the villainous master plan of being a god. A certain previous virus also pops up again. I have a feeling that “RER2” was designed as a different game at first, perhaps “Resident Evil 7” even, but got scrapped and pushed towards “Revelations 2.” It’s just a thought seeing how un-“Revelations” this game felt in terms of story.
One last thought - the subtitle “Revelations” is getting old for games. It’s not a clever subtitle when it states what the characters are supposed to be doing (and in certain cases said revelations are either too small or non-existent).
Challenges Absolutely Asinine
The challenges littered throughout the main campaign are utterly frustrating plain and simple. As a friend and I went looked at these, there isn’t a simple way of doing these without multiple playthroughs. We found that you have to complete an episode for both Claire and Barry at least three times - one for the regular run, one for Countdown Mode, and one for Invisible Mode. That isn’t even including additional runs that make you use only a knife and no follow-throughs (meaning you can’t attack when the monster is stunned). The knife run may only be for the first episode, but that’s still aggravating that one mistake of an attack can force players back to the beginning of the episode.
Then there are the medals. Medals are basically challenges to complete throughout a single episode. These will require you to do something very specific each time. That unfortunately means that there could be times where doing one medal screws you out of doing another one, thus forcing you to either do another playthrough just to do that specific challenge for a medal or to restart and to make sure you get it the second time (if it allows doing specific medals together in the first place). There are also additional collectible items for both Claire and Barry to find, just like “RE4," "RE5," and "RE6,” except they do nothing but count as pointless collectibles. I have a feeling that the developers suddenly realized that their episodic game would be rather short near the end and they needed a way to pad out the experience for completion’s sake.
So Close to Being "Resident Evil," But Needs a Few More Steps Back to Form
I really want to like this game, but it just feels unsubstantial on the grand scheme of things. I like that Claire and Barry are back with Moira, who was a bit character, has been given a role (though a bit heavy in hating her dad). The controls feel fluid and organic. Raid Mode is fun, though rather pointless. As a “Resident Evil,” it’s straying away from certain elements that shouldn’t be there in the first place, such as the QTEs.
The thing is, though, that a lot bogs down the experience, along with it not offering a lot new or awe-inspiring. The co-op for “Resident Evil” needs to die. If Capcom wants these games to be scary, get rid of it as the core gameplay. The challenges for the main campaign are too tedious to be worthwhile. As a whole, “Revelations 2” doesn’t impact the world of “Resident Evil” or even the first “Revelations” whatsoever.
Fundamentally, the game has fluid controlling and sets up some great things for underappreciated characters, but there’s just nothing special about it that makes it a must-own. If you’re a “Resident Evil” fan, it’s worth a look at just for Claire, Barry, and Moira alone. If you’re not, I’d just wait for a good price cut or deal before dabbling into this game. It’s not a bad game, but not a great game either.