Three Women and a Barry
I was first introduced to a quirky horror game called Resident Evil nearly 20 years ago now?and, in the time that?s passed since then, the series never stopped pushing forward and trying new things. Fans haven?t always liked the changes that came along with that?Resident Evil 5 and 6 especially received some mixed opinions?but I?ve been surprised at how consistently entertaining I?ve found each successive release.
That was especially true for Resident Evil Revelations. What could?ve easily ended up a throwaway portable side project turned out to be an incredibly fresh, fun, engrossing game, one that took chances and tried new things while also keeping true to some of the better chapters in the franchise?s past. So, when Capcom announced a follow-up in the Revelations line?one that would take Resident Evil into the world of true episodic gaming for the first time?I was on board.
This time around, the series gets its first pairing of leading ladies: sassy redhead Claire Redfield and sharp-tongued newbie Moira Burton. As the game kicks off with Moira?s introduction into the human-rights organization TerraSave, a mysterious paramilitary team crashes the party, taking Claire and her new partner hostage. When they awake, they find themselves in a decaying island prison, their every move tracked by a woman calling herself the Overseer. While her motives aren?t clear, her plans are: force Claire and Moira to battle a whole host of horrors that have infested the island.
Meanwhile, a lone hero comes to the rescue?lovable goofball of the original Resident Evil and Moira?s concerned father, Barry Burton. As Barry lands on the island where the women are being tormented, he encounters a shy orphan girl named Natalia. While Barry initially doesn?t want Natalia risking her life by joining him in his search for his missing daughter, the girl?s peculiar powers end up being far more useful than he could have initially imagined.
When the gimmick of a main character having a partner always around (for the benefit of co-op) first cropped up in Resident Evil 5, the idea seemed almost blasphemous to me. The concept has really grown since those days, however, and Revelations 2 is definitely the best execution on that from that the series has seen so far. Each character in both duos has their own role to fulfill, with one character being the attacker and the other support. At any time, you can switch between the two?and, especially in the case of Claire and Moira, this lets you set up some pretty awesome double-team tactics.
It?s funny, though, because so many times in games such as this, there?s an imbalance in the usefulness between the two character types. There are some balance issues at play here, but they?re the opposite of what I expected. Moira and Natalia are almost too useful at times?the former with her flashlight that can hunt down hidden items and stun enemies, while the latter has the ability to sense where enemies are, detect invisible foes, and pick up on otherwise unseen bonus items. Those abilities led me to run around as the helper more than I did as the muscle, which isn?t always want I wanted to do. Still, the situation is definitely better than having those characters as dead weight the entire time?I only wish the AI for partner characters were a bit more robust, allowing them to do more things on their own without prompting.
It?s good, then, that I liked every single one of our four heroes. I?ve never really cared about Barry before, but here, he grew into a tough-but-lovable leading man, and Natalia was a child character that actually came off as endearing instead of annoying. I know Moira has her detractors (due to her love of foul language and ?rebellious teenager? persona), but I loved her over-the-top hipness, and I?m hoping she shows up again in a later game. And then, there?s Claire. Code Veronica initially caused me to waver a bit in my devotion to Miss Jill Valentine back in the day, but Revelations 2 bumps Claire up to such a level of badassery that it?s almost too much. This is the Redfield you should be pushing, Capcom?not that roided-up doofus brother of hers. (And for those who love teaming up with a friend, the game features co-op gameplay both online and off. It?s a nice addition, but not particularly the way I prefer to play my Resident Evil.)
It?s a shame, then, that Revelation 2?s style and personality aren?t up to the same level of quality as its protagonists. That?s not to say that anything is seriously broken about this game?it?s just, after Revelations, this is sadly filled with elements that now seem long overused in the series. The original game?s cruise-ship setting offered something that felt different and interesting, where locations could be spooky without the overused ?decrepit urban decay? type of setting. It also kept things fresh by constantly mixing up who was in each chapter and what plot elements were going on, so that no character or scenario ever wore out its welcome.
Here, it?s always Claire and Moira, then Barry and Natalia, then back to Claire and Moira, then back to Barry and Natalia, somewhat ruining the excitement of finding out what?s coming next. (The two bonus chapters actually help in this regard?it?s just a shame that they?re separate side content instead of fully integrated into the main storyline.) The bigger, chunkier episodes at play here just aren’t as tightly-paced as Revelations’ TV show-length chapters were, and they tend to drag a bit in the sections where you retread ground with Barry and Natalia that you just went through as Claire and Moira. Again, though, Revelations 2 isn?t bad?it just feels too cookie-cutter compared to what came before it. Still, it has some enjoyable locations, and the events each group goes through kept my interest until the very end. It?s just that I loved that adventurous nature of the original, and I was hoping that the Revelations series would keep with the mantra of daring to be different.
If I was disappointed in the storyline structure and atmosphere of Revelations 2 compared to its predecessor, it was the complete opposite when it came to its gameplay. Yes, Resident Evil has taken a lot of pages from the book of third-person shooters; that hasn?t changed, it probably won?t change, and if you?ve been unhappy about the switch from how ?classic? chapters played, there?s little that?ll make you happy here.
If you?re OK with what the series has become?and, sorry, but I am?then this is probably the best-playing chapter of the franchise. It?s just so satisfying to run around and take out the game?s various monstrosities, and that?s made better by run and dodge mechanics that feel natural and well-implemented?a thankful change from the awkwardness of some of Resident Evil 6?s similar additions. Of course, good gunplay isn?t worth anything if you don?t have well-crafted foes to face off against, and Revelations 2 features enemies and bosses that range from great to fantastic?save one particular creature that will have you wanting to tear your hair out whenever it shows up.
There are a few flaws on the game side, however. While a few of the brainteasers that do show up have amazingly logical solutions, puzzles are too few and far between, and the ?move the analog stick around to hunt for the spot that rumbles? lock-picking minigame that Moira and Natalia are tasked with is one of the worst of these kinds of gimmicks that I?ve ever seen.
And while some may just write it off as a peculiar bonus feature, Raid Mode might be the true hidden gem of Revelations 2. Yes, it?s a far different beast than Mercenaries was, a fact that I know has turned off some fans. If you can get past the idea that they should be the same thing, however, then this is an added bonus that offers up just as much, if not more, gameplay than the core storyline itself. Mix that old concept of honing your skills against set challenges with a loot system and character leveling, and you?ve got something many players (myself included) will be sinking countless hours into.
I can?t help but wish Resident Evil Revelations 2 had been as daring as its older sibling was. What was originally a fresh take on Capcom?s classic survival-horror series now feels a little too much like it came off of the Resident Evil assembly line, and that?s not what I wanted from this offshoot. What?s undeniable, though, is that this is still a fantastic new addition to the franchise, one that elevates the more action-oriented gameplay elements higher than they’ve been before. If Resident Evil is now destined to stick to the road of the third-person shooter, then Revelations 2 has me ready for another 20 years of Japan?s contribution to the zombie genre.
|Developer: Capcom ? Publisher: Capcom ? ESRB: M – Mature ? Release Date: 03.17.2015|
While not as fresh and daring as its previous chapter, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is still a fantastic new addition to Capcom?s seminal survival-horror series, one that mixes some welcome gameplay polish with a great selection of monsters and a superb leading cast.
|The Good||Some of the best battle gameplay the series has ever seen, a fantastic cast of characters, all capped off with a ridiculously engrossing Raid Mode.|
|The Bad||Compared to the original Revelations, this one?s a bit too much of the Resident Evil same-old, same-old.|
|The Ugly||The Jill x Claire fanfiction I?m now writing in my spare time.|
|Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Capcom for the benefit of this review.|