In the interests of full disclosure, I’m quite the fan of all things Resident Evil-ey, so you should probably bear that in mind as you peruse the following review. In fact, such is my love of shooting zombies in the face that I even enjoyed Resident Evils 5 and 6.
There, I said it.
And I appreciate that this possibly puts me in a minority, and I also totally get why Resident Evil purists didn’t love them, but personally, I thought there was enough in them, both new and familiar, to keep the games fresh and exciting, whilst still maintaining a kind of ‘core Resident Evil quality’. Also, given that one of the things that sets the Resident Evil Universe apart is that the characters and stories are constantly being referred back to, or elaborated upon – I think it makes even the ‘outlier’ games more interesting, and ultimately successful, if viewed within the context of the continuing, overarching narrative. In that respect, they’re a bit like films in an ongoing series, I guess – sometimes there are ones that differ from the others if you look at them in isolation, but they still have something to offer if you see them as part of a bigger whole.
Anyways, controversial stuff aside, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is an excellent example of that “continuing, overarching narrative” – and, it’s a pretty darn good game in its own right! As you’d probably expect given the title, it’s closer to Resident Evil: Revelations than it is, say, REs 5 & 6, but there’s also stuff to keep fans of the latter happy too. In short, RE: R2 manages to take many of the better elements of previous games, and wrap them up in a nice, neat little package.
Throughout the game’s four (+ two halves if you get the full game package) chapters, you’ll be treated to some pure, unadulterated Resident Evil GAMEPLAY goodness. There’s plenty of scary stuff trying to chomp on your brains and/or innards (obviously), lots of goodies to collect (and combine/craft), some cool weapons to find (and upgrade), as well as a fair amount of random puzzle-y stuff standing between you and the answers you seek. If you are a Resident Evil fan, you can’t really say fairer than that, right!?
Each of the main chapters is divided into two: half Claire and Moira, half Barry and (franchise newcomer) Natalia. With this, RE: R2 continues with the separate-yet-overlapping-narrative technique, which adds a degree of depth and perspective to the story and which, for the most part, works really well. So, in the Barry/Natalia bits you’ll mostly be covering the same ground Claire and Moira did, only six months later, and I thought this added a nice quality, particularly as the whole Barry-desperate-to-find-his-daughter-and-reconcile part of the NARRATIVE is executed quite well too.
In fact, Revelations 2 manages quite the coup here, essentially managing to keep the same cheesy dialogue we’ve come to expect (and love) from the series, whilst simultaneously mixing it up with some, like, genuine feelz and that. In Barry’s quest for redemption, and in his relationship with Natalia as a kind of proxy for Moira, there’s an emotional depth that works really well at times. Indeed, it often reminded me a lot of the Joel & Ellie dynamic/narrative in The Last of Us, and that’s high praise indeed.
On the other side, the Claire/Moira bits have a slightly different dynamic, with Moira not quite as helpless as Natalia – and considerably more potty-mouthed. Turns out that if you throw a surly teenager with authority issues into a scenario where stuff be all up in her grill, you get some bona fide comedy lolz. Who knew, eh!? Also, give her a crowbar and she’ll happily forego expensive therapy sessions in favour of working through said issues via the medium of crackin’ (infected) skulls – which is a bit of a bonus for all concerned, really.
Why? Well, in RE: R2 your sidekick isn’t necessarily *just* your sidekick, and you can actually switch to playing as them and, as a rule, whenever you want. Indeed, you’re actually encouraged to, with each character having a distinct set of skills and abilities that, when combined, mutually reinforce the game and increase your chances of making it through your ordeal relatively un-munched upon by monsters and suchlike.
As Moira and Natalia, you’ll have the ability to spot hidden things (the former with her flashlight, the latter with her Extra Monstery Perception – obviously), and as Barry/Claire you’ll be bringing the pain via your arsenal of weaponry. However, Moira comes equipped with the aforementioned crowbar, which allows her to join in with melee-based fun, and her flashlight also has the ability to momentarily stun enemies – allowing you to then whack ’em yourself, or switch back to Claire and either shoot them, or unleash the trademark RE roundhouse kick. Natalia can use her EMP to locate enemies (particularly useful for the invisible glasps), and also, when in possession of a humble brick, can throw them at enemies (to stun them – again giving you the tactical option to switch back to Barry for the finish), or just generally bash zombies with the brick, melee style. As you’d expect, there are also various character specific bits in Revelations 2. There are supply/goody boxes that some kind soul’s left scattered around which only Natalia/Moira can unlock, and also areas that only Natalia can access (on account of being small), or Moira can open (what with having the crowbar).
All-in-all, I thought the whole switching thing worked well, and even though having to switch could be a bit of a pain, the freedom to do so if/when you wanted more than off-set that – not least because it was a very effective and welcome way of negating some of the more common “stoopid partner AI” issues. I also found that focusing on a chapter as one character (and vice-versa) offered a reasonably different experience, and a different set of challenges, and I think that’s pretty cool, and generally to be applauded. Furthermore, especially if you’re not concerned about trophies or collectibles, you can mostly not bother with the switching at all, so it’s an option that you can utilise as much, or as little, as you’d like.
Also, if you have actual real-life friends, you can use the two character thing with split-screen co-op, which means that you can properly get into a teamwork groove – presuming, of course, that you can amicably decide which of you’s going to be the one jumping into a zombie infested scenario armed only with a brick.
In terms of ATMOSPHERE and PACING I think Revelations 2 gets things just about spot-on, and there’s a pretty good balance between creeping along dark pathways waiting for stuff to jump out at you, and the times when they actually do jump out at you. Likewise, there’s a reasonable mix in both the number and difficulty of the enemies you’ll face at any given time. As with most RE games there will be occasions when you’ll be set upon by hordes of hideous things, forcing you to fire off all the ammo you’ve been so fastidiously conserving, but elsewhere the encounters are done in such a way as to be quite tactically open. So, if you are struggling for resources (perhaps if, say, you panicked a bit with the relatively harmless spider things and span round in circles, desperately firing at nothing for 5 minutes like, erm, some guy I know) then you can utilise the ability to perform stealth kills, or wait for enemies to group and use an explosive bottle on them instead.
RE: R2 also employs the same “Previously On…” and “Next Time On…..” gimmick as the last Revelations game did, and I quite liked it, although I appreciate that some people might not, particularly as it might detract from the aforementioned atmosphere. Again though, given that the game was initially released as individual episodes, there’s definitely a logic and value in doing that – and for those of us getting on in years, it’s quite often helpful to have a reminder of what’s going on now and then. Personally, I’ll happily take a hit in terms of atmosphere if it means I don’t lose 20 minutes trying to remember who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing.
Finally, there’s loads of EXTRAS and ample REPLAYABILITY in Revelations 2. Aside from regular medal/trophy hunting and the different ending things, you’ll also find the usual number of Resident Evil Unlockables (around a millionty-billion, give-or-take) including figurines, screen effects, costumes, and the rather cool Countdown Mode and Invisible Mode. They do exactly what they say on the tin, but undoubtedly provide a different (and enjoyable) gameplay experience should you wish to purchase them for the (rather reasonable) sum of 1000 in-game BP (per level).
And if that’s not enough, there’s also the particularly fun Raid Mode included, which offers many more hours of zombie killing fun – and at no extra cost. Raid Mode is basically shooting zombies in the face Arcade style, and is extremely enjoyable. Had a rubbish day, and just feel like unleashing a can of whoop-ass without stuff like story or inventory management getting in the way? Well, fire up Raid Mode and you’ll be in Zombie-Killing heaven. Also, as a bit of a further bonus, if you have played previous RE instalments, you might also enjoy Raid Mode for reasons of nostalgia and whatnot, as you’ll likely recognise your surroundings, and be pleasantly reminded of previous zombie shooting adventures. Again, what’s not to like? Apparently, we can also expect online multiplayer for Raid Mode very soon (as in: probably tomorrow) so there’s an extra little bit of fun just around the corner (standing right next to the ironhead who wants to hit you with his big hammer).
So, I hear you ask, is there anything wrong with Resident Evil: Revelations 2? Well, unfortunately, yes, but the issues might not necessarily bother you that much. The first thing is that, oodles of re-playability aside, the actual campaign bit isn’t massively long. However, given that there are loads of extras (including the extra two half chapters in the full game), that’s mostly forgivable, and, more importantly, given that RE: R2 retails at under £30 – I think there’s genuine value for money in what you do get. The thing that bothers me more than that, though, is that the game can be a little glitchy.
Again, I feel I should stress that this might not even bother you at all – depending on how you’re playing the game. This is because the glitches don’t really have an impact on the actual gameplay so much – with the only real problems being the odd bit of juddering if you happen to switch characters at the wrong time – or an occasional delay in switching characters when you really need to do it quickly. That’s barely noticeable to be fair, but if you are going for medals and trophies, you might just find an almost unbearable level of frustration in RE: R2’s glitches.
And I say “might”, because a brief look at the internet suggests it’s just pure luck as to whether they’ll affect you or not. I’m currently experiencing a few glitches on particular trophies, and a few on particular medals – and not having them pop when they should (after re-doing stuff many, many times) is annoying me beyond belief. Am I being overly gripe-y? Possibly, but I think that if a game actively encourages you to re-play it to get/achieve certain things, and pursue all the rewards that come with that extra investment of time and effort – it’s a proper pain in the ass when they don’t freakin’ work. I know I’m not the only person this has happened to, but it seems I’m probably in an unlucky minority – so you might not have any problems at all. And who knows, maybe the eleventy-twelfth time’ll be the charm for me.
Anyways – venting and frustration over – I did really, really enjoy Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and it’s possible that I’m also a little bit addicted to it. For the last few days I’ve found myself neglecting real-life stuff in favour of zombie related shenanigans, and that’s a pretty impressive endorsement, right there! In CONCLUSION – RE: R2 is a great little game in itself, and a worthwhile addition to the Resident Evil universe. There’s a lot to love about the game, and a lot to keep you going back for more – whether it’s the various bonus modes, the thrill of unlocking x, y or z, or just the repeated pleasure to be had from hours of zombie slayin’ fun. I think it expertly combines the genuine survival horror we’ve come to expect from the franchise with the newer 3rd person-shooting action that, ultimately, keeps things a bit more fresh and exciting. And moreover the story, how the characters develop and interact, and how the whole game manages its momentum as you head towards the end are all done very, very well. The switching thing is also an interesting element, and on balance, I think it adds a superb degree of additional intrigue and interest to the game. In short, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a great little package – and one you’ll have hours of fun fully unwrapping.