Back in the day, the Resident Evil name made players think about true survival horror, but the priorities have shifted over the years, and now, after almost two decades, how much of the survival horror feeling does the franchise still have?
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is the tenth installment in Capcom’s survival horror franchise. The game was delivered through an episodic format with episode one being released on February 24 and the last episode being released on March 17 together with the retail version of the game.
Revelations 2 starts with Claire Redfield attending a party at Terra Save HQ, a non-governmental organization bent on aiding people affected by bioterrorism, alongside her friend Moira Burton which was recently hired by the organization. The headquarters is attacked by paramilitary troops which abduct the people attending the party. Claire wakes up in an abandoned prison with a strange bracelet on her hand and after quickly finding Moira they go on exploring the island in search for answers. It turns out that the two are not the only survivors and someone who goes by the name of Overseer is toying with the survivors.
The story of Revelations 2 features a total of four episodes for the main campaign and two extra episodes to fill some of the story gaps. Each episode is split in two parts, the first part showing the struggles of Claire Redfield and Moira Burton as the two work together in order to stay alive and find answers about what’s happening on the island where they are kept prisoners. The second part follows Barry Burton responding to a radio signal and arriving at the island after six months and he is helped to backtrack his daughter’s actions by a surviving girl named Natalia.
The game follows in the steps of the older Resident Evil games relaying on suspense and mystery more than action gameplay, which makes Revelations 2 more of a survival horror than many of the previous releases in the series.
The writing isn’t the greatest and I found it quite funny at times as characters with so much background in the fight against bioterrorism are so easily surprised by monsters and events that are quite ordinary in this universe. The dialogues between characters are good and the story, while simple, is captivating and takes full advantage of the episodic design with intertwined action to raise the thrill of the climactic moments.
The campaign design is excellent, while many of the areas repeat in both parts of an episode, many of the actions of Claire and Moira have an impact for when playing with Burton and Natalia. Paths can be changed and new rooms can be unlocked helping the second team in their journey.
The atmosphere created in the singleplayer campaign can be terrifying at times. Even if the game is using some of the horror clichés and many common tricks they are still pretty effective and I was caught off guard a few times, jumping from my chair and losing control of my mouse (I still blame Silent Hill 2 for this!).
Despite only taking roughly ten hours to finish, the main campaign was extremely entertaining. There is a lot of replay value in it as the story has two different endings and the game cannot be fully explored in the first playthrough because by opening some paths sometimes others get closed. There is also a classic unlocks system which can add various modes to the campaign to make it more different and challenging.
|In the name of science right?!?!|
Resident Evil Revelations 2 does use the more conventional over the shoulder 3rd person camera instead of the old style fixed camera but for the most part the gameplay has the feeling of an old school survival horror.
The combination of exploration, puzzle solving and shooting with a few moments where scripted events dictate the pace of the action make for an entertaining gameplay.
The level design is pretty good despite the overused clichés of conveniently arranged ramps and rubble bridges to pass on. Most of the areas are created to be played from two different perspectives and while this might sound like a lazy design choice, it actually feels right. Not only it has a greater feeling and value for the story, but the action is different enough not to feel repetitive.
The puzzles add more depth to the gameplay compared to previous titles which ignored this feature completely. The ability to control the two characters in the team was the axis around which the puzzles were designed and this fits the action of the game perfectly.
The number of puzzles isn’t too large and their difficulty isn’t that high to become an impediment, some of them are even optional and just provide more resources or a different weapon to replace the existing ones.
Revelations 2 follows the standard game mechanics for this genre when it comes to combat with no option for hip fire as the shooting always requires aiming first and small QTEs to solve some close combat fights. The variety of weapons is large enough for both teams to enjoy different weapons and the upgrading system makes things a little more interesting and encourages the exploration.
The resources are fairly balanced, on normal difficulty there were enough ammunition boxes and healing herbs to use without having to worry all the time. Still, resources should not be spent recklessly as there are moments in the game when the action goes crazy and ammunition is a life saver (beware, when there is too much ammo around something is wrong!). Stealth kills and melee finishers are a good way to save some ammunition.
The combat system is helped immensely through monster variety and the enemies AI. For the most part of the campaign, each team encounters different monsters with different abilities and weaknesses greatly avoiding monotony.
The AI also does a very good job at keeping the combat engaging when it doesn’t go plain stupid. The zombies move in zigzag to avoid being shot and do their best to protect their weakest spots. On the other hand, the companions AI is quite poor and expect to waste resources and time to deal with the problems they cause.
Many of the monsters might not be so dangerous when they are alone and in open field, but they become a real threat when ambushing or attacking in bigger groups.
|You won't see this one coming!|
|I clearly need a revolver|
To help with battling bio organic weapons, Revelations 2 has a skill system where the four characters abilities can be enhanced. I found this off-putting as it turned the game even more to the arcade side than it was necessary. The skills include immunity to damage and other nonsense that should not be present into a survival horror game. The experience necessary for leveling up these skills is awarded even by finding jewels or through performance rating after completing a level. Without too much stress, by the end of the game I’ve managed to unlock more than half of the skills and I had many points unspent.
A big problem I had with the game comes from the secret loot hunt. There is a spotting ability that the support character of each team has that allows them to notice secret spots which provide extra resources or experience jewels. This turns all the quiet and creepy moments in the game into annoying pixel hunting. Every time I was short on ammo or I wanted to make sure I have enough I was forced to walk around with the supporting characters and search every nook and cranny for extra loot (the game exploited my completist side).
Overall, the gameplay in Revelations 2 is a step forward from this franchise’s perspective as it incorporates most of the mechanics, features and feelings that are the most iconic to it. The coop scandal related to the PC version of the game cannot be ignored, but due to the campaign design I think the singleplayer works better without it. But when looking at the big picture it seems like this franchise is stuck somewhere in the past.
After the explosion of indie survival games, the genre has been pushed to new heights in the latest years and this game missed a good opportunity to climb up there.
The unlimited flashlight, the pointless arcade skill tree or the lack of wider maps are just some of the things that I don’t find fitting anymore in this genre. I felt that the developers could have taken some more risks when it comes to gameplay mechanics and the game would have benefited greatly from that.
|Not annoying at all!|
While there is no Co-op mode for the singleplayer campaign, Revelations 2 makes up for that with the Raid mode.
The Raid mode is a solo or online action minigame with multiple stages where the players have to clear enough monsters to reach the exit. At the end of each stage, the players receive a rank and experience and currency is awarded based on their performance.
The mode features a variety of playable characters from the universe, including Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy. Each character has their own starting skills and can be further customized through a leveling system. There is a continually upgrading system for weapons and characters that can go up to level 100.
On top of the well known characters from the Resident Evil universe, the Raid mode also features some monsters and locations from previous games.
While this mode lacks in complexity focusing more on action arcade gameplay, it is quite fun and with an online ladder and enough customization, the Raid mode can keep the game alive for a long time after the campaign is over. Knowing the potential of this mode, Capcom has decided to take advantage of the situation with lots of DLCs and an online store dedicated to it.
|Bad-ass as always!|
The graphics quality in Revelations 2 reveal more than anything else the fact that this game is a console port. The overall graphics are dusty at best with good characters models being the only truly redeeming quality. It is true that the Resident Evil franchise was never about being up to date with technology, but this feels lazy. For a game released in 2015, Revelations 2 seems technologically outdated by more than four years. The low resolution textures and the lack of graphical effects have a negative impact on immersion and the atmosphere induced by the main campaign.
|A mansion, I'm shocked!!|
As with many of the multiplatform games nowadays, Revelations 2 has a great sound design despite the low level graphical fidelity. The music is phenomenal and suited for each setting being the creepy campaign levels or the Raid mode stages and the accompanying sound effects add even more value to this (some of the weapons sound a little strange). The voice acting comes to top off the sound quality, despite the change in actors for the main characters.
|Hmm... Claire, you messed up!|
|The completists heaven or hell!|
In the past few years it was hard to predict where the Resident Evil was heading. The story became harder to follow and full of questionable moments and the gameplay started to move further away from what made these games popular. Now, with the release of Revelations titles and Resident Evil HD Remaster, slowly, the franchise gets back on track.
I have been missing the feeling of this series and while I can’t agree with some of the design choices and I’m bothered by the complete lack of innovation I’m still looking forward towards the next title.
+ Good story with two endings and an actual revelation
+ Good sound effects and music
+ Good enemies AI
+ Raid mode
+ Replay value
+ A huge amount of unlocks
- Average graphics at best
- Pixel hunting
- Many arcade elements
- The amount of pointless DLCs
- Cash shop with pay to win items for the Raid mode
- The menu is full of pop-ups and loading screens