Review: Resident Evil Revelations 2 (Xbox One)
For better or worse? This is often a term pondered by fans of a particular series. The “Resi” franchise is no different. Over the years we’ve seen games that we can’t help but marvel at as well as other that we disregard 2 hours into playing them. Resident Evil Revelations 2 combines elements from previous outings in an attempt to offer a little something for everyone. Different people will have different points of view regarding this but ultimately you’ll have to learn to take the good along with a little of the inevitable bad.
Episode 1: Penal Colony
This time around your excursion into the Resident Evil realm is broken up into bite-sized episodes, ultimately leading up to the final, hard copy, release. This is an interesting way to market the game letting die-hard fans have a false feeling of exclusivity before the final release. Having said that, that is exactly what these Resi fans are after. In the first episode of Revelations 2 we are introduced to our first two primary characters, the infamous Claire Redfield and Moira Burton, daughter of Resident Evil icon, Barry Burton. The story escalates at a rapid pace and the duo find themselves in a typical horror title predicament. From here you are tasked with a number of ‘missions’ which act as a tutorial. As you swap between the two characters you quickly discover that Claire is the primary protagonist and that Moira is… well… just there to shine a torch and curse at inappropriate times. As you get to the end of this scenario the tension begins to build up nicely and you get prepped for the second half of the game. This is where the game really comes to life.
The second half of Episode 1 switches to two different characters, Barry Burton and a somewhat creepy little girl named Natalia; it’s okay though, she’s on your side. This is a welcomed change as by this stage you’ll be so sick and tired of Moira Burton and her teen angst that you yourself will be reduced to over emotional cursing. Barry has the same role as Claire, he’s the ‘muscle’ and responsible for your general shooting and melee attacks. Natalia might be about as useful as a penguin in the Sahara when it comes to fighting, but she has other abilities that easily outshine Moira’s foulmouthed, torch carrying antics. Natalia, due to her size can reach places that are inaccessible to other characters. This is used well in a few simplistic instances but this is by no means her primary task. Being the creepy little girl that she is Natalia has the ability to see mutilated, adversary hordes around corners and other traditionally out-of-site areas. Barry and Natalia’s pairing feels far less forced and more action based, similar to that of Resident Evil 4. Claire and Moira’s pairing has small instances of a Resident Evil 2 resemblance, even if it is only for brief moments.
The classic inventory system is back. You still have the option to upgrade and combine items in your inventory however you don’t have many opportunities to play around with the inventory due to this only being a single episode. Herbs and bandages are also back and applied in the same way. You’ll probably be using these a lot more during the first half of episode one as the enemies tend to deal out more damage. Enemy types are generally regular zombie types with the occasional ‘juggernaut’ variation that pack quite a punch but are much slower than the regular types. Later on you encounter enemies that have a specific point of vulnerability, making them more difficult to take down. As usual your inventory availability and enemy damage is dependent on the difficulty level you choose to play the game on.
In addition to the first episode, which will take you no longer that three hours to complete, you can try your hand with the raid mode. In raid mode you are put against small clusters of enemies with an abundance of firepower. The more enemies you kill the better your rewards at the end of the session. This is a completely different experience to the main game but if you are itching for more after the main story and don’t mind 90’s techno background music then this mode is well worth while.
Episode one includes some average puzzle scenarios and generally a run-of-the-mill narative. This isn’t to say that you won’t be captured in moments including well constructed scares and various references to past titles. The story line is currently one big cliché and it quickly becomes evident why the release is episodic, especially after the daft cliffhanger towards the end. In this very attempt to combine gaming and the ever rapid rise in TV series popularity Capcom have created a noteworthy story based adventure with solid controls that can be enjoyed even for a brief moment. Despite its flaws you’ll be waiting in anticipation for the next episodes release.
Episode 2: Contemplation
Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode 2 continues in the way you’d expect based on the cliché infested ending of Episode 1. Despite this mediocre transition between episodes, Episode 2 ups the ante in nearly every other way. Not only are the enemies tougher to beat but there are so much more of them. This, along with what now feels like limited ammo quantities adds to the tension similar to Resi games of old. It is becoming more and more evident that Revelations 2 is an iterative story making its episodic release structure far more viable than what fans initially anticipated.
Like the first episode, Episode 2 is clearly divided. Not only in Claire and Barry’s story lines but the actual quality of the level design. This time around Barry and Natalia’s (brief) excursion falls short. There are some new elements, most notably a new enemy type that is completely invisible. As you would expect, you need to use Natalia’s unique abilities to spot these threats but this isn’t where the shortfall comes into play. Switching between Barry and Natalia is a chore and more often than not you are emptying out your ammo on something which you only have a vague idea as to its whereabouts. It’s a great concept but the execution leaves something to be desired. There is a fine line between a well constructed frantic scurry and unadulterated frustration.
Once again Moira is blurting out profanities and Claire is as strong willed as ever. Claire and Moira’s section of Episode 2 takes centre stage this time around with their plight lasting about 70 percent of this episode. The highlight being the much needed boss fight for their scenario. This fight in particular emphasizes the need to build up your inventory and use it sparingly because without it you’re in for a woeful time. The “puzzles” leading up to this event however are typical of the first episode. Locate an item, survive an incoming hoard and use the item to progress.
Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2 takes you through both a tense and frustrating three hour campaign with a boss fight that, if anything, makes the episode worth the while. All the pros and cons remain from the first episode however they are just reversed between Claire and Barry’s story arcs. Revelations 2 is building up to be a solid installment to the Resident Evil franchise.
**Video of Episode 2 contains spoilers**
Episode 3: Judgment
The pieces of the puzzle are rapidly coming together as the penultimate episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 becomes available. Episode 3 is by far the pinnacle of the game up to now and let’s just say it starts off with a bang. There isn’t much, in regards to gameplay, that we haven’t seen in the previous two episodes and this cannot be faulted. By this stage you know what to expect from your inventory system and you can (nearly) begin to predict those ‘cheap fright’ moments. Episode 3 is all about the storyline and this time around both Claire and Barry’s sections are equally intriguing.
The storyline is going to play on your nostalgia nerves, as fans of previous installments of the Resident Evil franchise will have something in particular to get excited about. There’s one specific moment that stands out. The return of a familiar character, but I’m not going to spoil the details for you. In the Claire and Moira campaign the focus is on two things, the “Overseer” and to a large extent Moira herself. In previous episodes I couldn’t handle Moira. This might have been due to her teen angst and constant immature cursing and I couldn’t wait for her to die off, not that that was ever likely to happen. I can confidently say that things have turned around. Not because of her secondary role as a character but very much due to her circumstances in the rapidly progressing story. At first you get the impression that the Barry and Natalia scenario will play second fiddle to that of Claire and Moira, thankfully this time around it isn’t the case. In fact, both scenarios are quite balanced. Barry and Natalia work their way through the best puzzle section that the game has had to offer so far. Up until now the puzzles have been very unimaginative, thankfully episode 3 presents you with some tactful mysteries to figure out. At this stage the two separate campaigns are both self-contained, but at the same time coming together… not in the way you might think though.
Episode 3 will take you just as long to complete as the previous two episodes. For me it has become a trend. Finish the story mode… begin Raid mode. Yes there are new stages and items included this time around keeping this mode fresh and exciting. It might not be for everyone but it sure is a great way to pass time while waiting for the next episode.
If you’ve had doubts about this game up until now then Episode 3: Judgment is the episode that will finally see you shattering your piggy bank. I personally cannot wait to sink my teeth into the final episode along with all the additional content. If only the Resident Evil movies had a storyline half as good as this.
**Video of Episode 3 contains spoilers**
Episode 4: Metamorphosis
Up until this point you would have experienced a plot twist or two, the occasional cheap b-grade style fright and a handful of frustrating invisible enemies. Most of all, you would have picked up that Resident Evil Revelations 2 has a significant drive to tell a story. A story that at times can frustrate you but moments later have you consumed in every moment. Episode 4 is no different.
Other than the focus on the storyline Episode 4 stands out for its variety. As things kick off you are almost immediately put into a high pressure situation. There is plenty tension to go around as you anxiously navigate through what appears to be a highly dangerous environment. Truth be told there is very little threat compared to any of the other episodes. After this event the storyline takes over momentarily before you begin to play the ‘parallel’ campaign. At this stage there has been very little gunfire but worry not, you have a well constructed boss fight just around the corner and things don’t end as you might think.
As always there is extra Raid Mode content which adds to the overall longevity to the game and while easily overlooked can be the most addictive game mode in recent history. There are also two extra chapters to dive into once the main game has been completed. These additional chapters are very brief but give you a good insight into two character journeys that aren’t previously touched on.
Out of all the episodes Episode 4 is probably the shortest considering the amount of actual game time. This however is easy overlooked as the previous episodes introduce you to the ride, get you comfortable with it and prepare you to simply sit back and enjoy the finale.
**Video of Episode 4 contains spoilers**