I was surprised when Capcom announced that a sequel to Resident Evil: Revelations was in the works, and even more shocked that it would be an episodic game. The more I thought about it however, these decisions made perfect sense. Resident Evil is Capcom’s biggest franchise so another entry was inevitable. Episodic games have also become increasingly popular lately. Combine the two and this was a logical strategy for the company to take.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is set on a remote island and is the home to several gruesome bio-weapon experiments. As such, the place is overrun with zombies and all sorts of nasty mutated freaks. Resident Evil veteran Claire Redfield and her partner Moira, the daughter of another series favorite; Barry Burton, are kidnapped and taken to the hellish island. On a mission to find his daughter on the same island, Barry stumbles upon a little girl named Natalia, who has mysterious abilities. In order to uncover the truth behind the island’s experiments, the two individual pairs must work together if they wish to survive and tell the tale.
Like the last couple of main entry games, there are two playable characters on screen; one of which can be controlled by another player. As before, both characters must work together to overcome certain obstacles. For example, any high-to-reach switches or in-game items can be easily attained by vaulting your partner upward to its location. Partners can also execute combined attacks. Moira can, for example, use her flashlight to blind an enemy so that Claire can follow up with an easy shot to the head.
The twist? Only one of the characters can use firearms. The second character can spotlight enemies and hidden objects, perform stealth to get to different places, and attack with blunt objects, such as bricks or crowbars. Natalia is the most useful since she can sense where zombies are, and where their weaknesses are located. I kind of felt bad making a little girl take point but, come on, she knew where the zombies where! Moira’s flashlight stun ability is also useful when caught in tough situations. Although having only one character capable of fighting off enemies may seem a bit unfair, the game does a good job of balancing things out so you aren’t constantly babysitting your partner.
Revelations 2 (thankfully) tones down the excesses of Resident Evil 6 and tries to bring the series back to basics with more of an emphasis on survival. This means supplies like bullets and health items are in limited quantity. While the game isn’t as over-the-top as RE6 or RE5, it is likely that the game will throw a dozen zombies and all of their relatives at you during certain sections. With so many enemies to fight off, players may run out of ammo fairly quickly, which can be very frustrating when all they have left to defend themselves with is a knife. Although the survival elements worked well with the game, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed, given the scarcity of ammunition for my weapons.
The biggest let down of this game are the controls, which feel somewhat dated. These tank-like controls worked great in previous games, but often led to me cursing at my TV. Walking, running, jumping… pretty much every action you take feels stiff. Combat suffers the most from these control issues. Aiming and shooting are very sluggish, which leaves you completely vulnerable to enemy attacks while firing off a shot. Given the many instances when you’re swarmed by the undead, the stiff controls become the greatest opponent. While the controls are certainly much better than they were in RE6, they still feel incredibly clunky.
Modding makes a return but in a different form. As you progress through the game, you find components which you can add to your guns. Equipping these parts will improve firing rate, accuracy and damage, along with other features. Utilizing these add-ons certainly puts you on a more “even” playing field when it comes to wrecking zombies. After looting enough parts, I was able to upgrade my handgun into a virtual hand cannon, and I was able to deal more damage.
The game also incorporates the crafting of items to make use of tourniquets, disinfectants, and my favorites: firebombs and exploding bottles. Lastly, you can use BP (Bonus Points) acquired (through finishing levels, collecting jewels, or earning medals) to augment abilities like dodging speed, effectiveness of healing items, and making yourself less susceptible to one hit kills.
The episodic nature of the game is something Capcom has put front and center. While it is unique for a game in the series to be released one chapter a week, this fact isn’t much of a big deal if you played it the way I did. This is the retail version of the game, which means it has all four chapters already on it. As such, it seemed no different than the last two main entries in the series which were also broken up into in-game chapters. It was fun to have each chapter book ended by a TV-style narrator saying: “Last time/next time on Resident Evil: Revelations 2,” followed by a brief montage.
Since this is an episodic game, you would be think that the production value would suffer. However, you would be wrong. The graphics, sound design, and graphics are mostly on par with previous entries.
The game runs at 60 frames per second, though this can drop a bit at times. The character models match those of their CG counterparts, and each of the enemies look great in all of their disgusting glory. Even the seemingly mundane areas of the game make you feel uncomfortable due to how filthy and blood soaked they are.
The game’s best feature above all is the sound design. The noise the zombies make when they are attacking, are nearby or further away are all equally disturbing. If you pay enough attention, you can even guess which types of zombies are around. The music does a great job of heightening the tension in both subtle and not so subtle ways. The voice acting is decent, but some of the one-liners will make your eyes roll. “Ha! Who’s the master of unlocking now, huh?,” is just one such line.
Though the game has a lot of replayability given the various things you can unlock with BP points, and with all of the in-game collectibles and medals you can earn, it is in Raid Mode where a good chunk of the post-campaign time can be spent. This mode has many levels from the game, the previous Revelations, and RE6, in which you kill hordes of enemies. As you progress, you will level up and be able to unlock better weapons and abilities. The mode can be unfair at times when you run out of ammo, but all experience gained is kept. In order to beat some of the higher levels, a fair bit of time will need to be spent leveling up and grinding in the environment.
I was more frustrated than anything playing this game due to the dated controls and the low ammo/high enemy ratio imbalance. With that said, I have to give Capcom respect for pulling off the episodic nature of the game, and for at least trying to bring the series back to what it was before. I also have to acknowledge the great value of this game considering that it’s only $39.99 and packs so much content inside.
Though I believe this franchise is starting to resemble the shambling dead it’s known for, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a step in the right direction for the series.
This review of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is based off a digital copy for the PlayStation 4 provided by Capcom.