Of the few survival-horror mainstays to make it to current-gen consoles, Resident Evil is far and away the most entertaining. Whether you’re a purist fan yearning for titles more similar to the original trilogy or a latter-day convert in love with the B-movie adventures, the change that’s occurred since RE4 revolutionized the genre has caused the series to go through an interesting transformation into a horror-action series. While RE5 and 6 weren’t perfect games, they were the equivalent of playing through a cheesy 80s zombie movie, and I mean that as a compliment. However, Resident Evil: Revelations came the closest to replicating the success of earlier titles, featuring more claustrophobic settings and more suspense then usual. Enter Resident Evil: Revelations 2, the episodic sequel that skipped handhelds and went straight for consoles.
Although Capcom’s odd decision to release the game as a downloadable title over four weeks breaks up the plot’s flow and the lack of a handheld version is disheartening, Revelations 2 is shaping up to be a surprisingly creepy entry in the series. With the first episode clocking in at just three hours, it was definitely a satisfying introduction to the story of the missing years between RE5 and 6.
Choosing to stick with the co-op angle of recent series entries, Revelations 2 finds familiar face Claire Redfield teaming up with Moira Burton, daughter of the infamous Barry Burton, to escape an island prison after being left there by a mysterious entity. Of course, the island is overrun with evil creatures waiting to tear them apart, and their only guidance is a pretentious poet who speaks to them through bracelets that can monitor fear, anxiety and infection levels. All in all, a typical day in the Resident Evil universe.
Similar to Revelations, however, a second couple is introduced to the mix in search of Claire and Moira. Made up of Barry and the mysterious Natalia, they bring up the rear of the first episode, with Natalia providing a few decent plot twists and never revealing anything about her past.
It’s a blast to see Barry returning to the series after so long, and while Claire is always a welcome addition, the two new characters are actually nice surprises. Moira is your typical spunky teenager, complete with daddy issues, but she also manages to be helpful and not in the least bit annoying. Natalia is a bit more quiet, tagging along with Barry and using her experiences on the island to help him navigate without letting on to how she knows so much. Of course, more than a few self-aware jabs are made at the hammy dialogue from earlier entries, with “Claire sandwich” and “master of unlocking” jokes being made well before the two-hour mark hits.
While the co-op in past entries just featured two gun-toting characters playing the same way, Revelations 2 shakes the formula up by having the secondary characters serve as support rather than clones of their partners. Although Moira disagrees with using guns, she wields a hefty crowbar and uses a flashlight to point out hidden objects and stun creatures. Natalia brings a sixth sense to the table with the ability to see infected through walls and floors, helping Barry plan stealthy routes to avoid combat. She also wields a brick that can do decent damage in her hands.
For once, co-op fits a Resident Evil game like a glove, and even if you play solo, it’s easy to switch between characters on the fly and use each of their abilities when needed. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, though, since your partner’s AI isn’t exactly the smartest, and leaving them to their own devices can make a few situations hard to handle alone. Luckily, the first episode doesn’t throw too many tough enemies at you, so it’s pretty easy to get a grasp of how the game will work for future scenarios.
The core combat is the same as always, although it reflects the much more aggressive style that RE6 favored more than the slower-paced and more methodical combat of Revelations. Thankfully, the dodge mechanic that plagued the first entry has been refined by mapping it to a single button, making it easy to dodge incoming attacks. A skill tree has also been introduced, with gems collected in the campaign used to upgrade skills such as herb effectiveness, melee attacks and flashlight strength.
There’s not much to say about the story just yet since almost nothing has been revealed about the antagonist’s motivations or even their actions, but it’s safe to say we’re in for Saturday morning cartoon villain levels of ridiculousness based on her love of Kafka and poetry. The island setting is actually beautiful in a few places, including a creepy forest and deserted lumberyard, but much of the first episode takes place in a cramped compound, which is boring to look at and not nearly as interesting as the lavish setup of the Queen Zenobia from Revelations.
Bolstering the short, episodic campaign is the returning Raid mode, which is a blast like always. For the inexperienced, the gist is that you choose a character, set them up with unlockable weapons and skills and deploy them on missions to level up and earn more loot. It’s simplistic and far too easy in the early levels, but later missions provide satisfying challenges and will keep you playing for days in between each episode’s release.
After beating the campaign, you can unlock both a Time Attack mode and an Invisible mode, which keeps enemies invisible unless pointed out by Moira’s flashlight or Natalia’s helpful hand. Both modes are worth checking out, lending the first episode some much needed replayability. There’s never a lack of things to do with Revelations 2, even after you’ve flown through each short episode.
While this premiere episode remains mum on much of the story, it ends with a good cliffhanger and a tantalizing preview of what’s to come. There’s still plenty of time for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 to derail, but if the episodes that are still to come continue to flesh out the story and offer the same amount of personality and fun as the first does, then we may be looking at another fan-favorite entry into the series.
Although light on plot and suffering from a flow-breaking episodic release, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 introduces interesting new characters and unique co-op in an entry that has more than enough scares and personality to become a fan-favorite.