Resident Evil: Revelations 2 - Review

http://invisiblekidreviews.blogspot.de/2015/03/resident-evil-revelations-2-review.html

Resident Evil: Revelations showed that Resident Evil games can also hold a bit back on the action and focus more on the horror aspects that made the franchise so popular back in the 90s.
While Resident Evil 6 further delved into action territory, the Revelations-spin off series is now continued with Resident Evil: Revelations 2. With returning character Claire Redfield and newcomer Moira Burton trapped on a remote prison island, here's hoping that Revelations 2 can further extend what the original Revelations started, especially considering that Revelations 2 is released as a full-on console/PC game without any of the handheld-restrictions its predecessor had to deal with.


Story

The plot:
In 2011, Claire Redfield is in attendance at a party at the quarters for non-government organization TerraSave, where she also finds newest member and long-time friend, Moira Burton, older daughter of Barry Burton. Unbeknownst to Claire, however, she is being watched and soon after, a group of masked militants infiltrate the place, taking the attendants hostage. Claire and Moira are injected by the mysterious attackers and abducted with other TerraSave members.
When Claire and Moira awake, they find themselves in an abandoned prison, in individual cells across from each other. Furthermore, strange bracelets have been attached to their wrists, contraptions that they later discover are used by a watching party to measure the wearer's degree of fear. It's now up to them to find a way out of the prison and stop the mastermind behind it all.
(source: Resident Evil Wiki)




Resident Evil: Revelations 2's story takes place sometime in between the events of Resident Evil 5 and 6 and features four playable characters.
The story begins as Claire Redfield and newcomer Moira Burton are kidnapped by unknown attackers and taken to a remote prison island. Awakening there, Claire and Moira have to find a way off the island as they encounter monsters and numerous deadly traps all set in place by a mysterious overseeing mastermind.
While the story is told like TV-show in 4 seperate episodes (with additional 2 extra episodes), each episode is basically separated into two halves: the first half focussing on Claire and Moira's journey trying to get off the island, and the second half focussing on Barry Burton (Moira's father) who sets out to rescue Moira 6 months later with the help of a mysterious psychic girl called Natalia.
With that said, Revelations 2 interestingly enough tells its story achronologically through two perspectives which consistently is followed upon through the game...for better and for worse.


Resident Evil: Code Veronica flashbacks incoming.

Revelations 2 can definitely be characterized as a story that is centered very deep in the franchise's lore. It's a story that builds in several story aspects of older Resident Evil games into its own story arch and therefore more or less requires that players are familiar with terms like Uroboros or who Albert Wesker and co. are.
And even though the game does a respectably good job in establishing new characters and relationships, it does so in inconsequent quality. While for example the complicated father-daughter relationship between Barry and Moira is made clearly obvious early on from the beginning and is connected to the main story satisfyingly enough, the messages the game tries to bring across are (just as always from Capcom games) anything but subtle. Moira is well presented as a rebellious teenager, but her dialogue consisting almost entirely out of curse words and way too many phrases about how much she dislikes Barry are way overdone and pretty annoying after a while.
And though the main story itself in its own regard manages to build up a considerable amount of tension and mystery around the secrets of the island and the evil mastermind's plans, it doesn't completely pull throught with it. Thus, even with reading much of the additional intel in the game's environmets and playing the additional two extra episodes, Revelations 2 leaves many questions player's will have about the story unanswered. With some character motivations and general plot points left unexplained, Revelations 2 offers an investing yet ultimately bumpy and not entirely fulfilling story. Especially in a spin-off series to Resident Evil that has the term "Revelations" in its title, one would've hoped that there were quite a few more facts and truths put on the table towards the end...especially after such a build-up.


Hopefully Revelations 3 will tell us what the point of these bracelets was.


Gameplay
 

Core Gameplay - "Come With Me If You Want To Live"

Each of Revelations two campaigns per episode (Claire/Moira & Barry/Natalia) can be played solo or via local co-op. Unfortunately, online co-op isn't supported (at least to date) despite the fact that co-op play greatly enhances the experience since each character has own strengths and weaknesses making them depend on each other.
Revelations 2 therefore greatly emphasizes cooperative play and interaction between the characters: Claire and Barry both assume the roles of the straightforward shooter of the duos by being able to carry and fire different types of guns. Moira and Natalia instead are full-on support characters. Moira doesn't use firearms but can instead blind and stun enemies in addition to being able to find hidden items in the environment. Similarily, Natalia can assist Barry by pointing out hidden enemies and hidden items as well.

"Come on! Open up that chest already, so i can shoot more stuff!"

It get's obvious that a duo therefore always consists out of "the one with the firepower" and "the supporting one". And though this strikes a nice and interesting balance into the gameplay and even makes sense from a story standpoint within the game, players having to take on the role of the supporting character (Moira or Natalia) will often nevertheless feel quite useless when all hell breaks loose and they basically cannot attack enemies in any meaningful or effective way. In that sense, the intended balance between the two characters falls apart in the "gameplay-fun-department" when the player with the guns is clearly standing in the spotlight while the supporting player can only assist if needed and mainly do the redundant busy work. Most notably during puzzles, reaching certain crawlspaces and unlocking treasure chests make the supporting player essential, but that pretty much is about it.
Yet of course it has to be said that the entire game can also be played completely solo by simply switching between the two characters if needed. The switching is seemless and the teammate A.I. is competent enough though.

Thanks Capcom, this rock is really more useful than a gun or knife.

 

Environments & Enemies - "Deja-Vu"

Environments in Revelations 2 are mostly set indoors, yet occasionally also expand to larger areas and outdoor locals that greatly encourage exploration. Exploration itself is a large part in Revelations 2 and underlines the heavily emphasized and aimed for survival feel in the game. On more than one occasion players will have to fight their way through an onslaught of many tough enemies at once making clever arrangement of one's arsenal and items much more crucial than in recent Resident Evil games. Yet a directly offensive approach isn't always recommended since players can also utilize stealthy tactics to take out enemies. Stealth in a Resident Evil game might at first sound a bit tacky, yet, much like in The Evil Within, stealthily taking out enemies can greatly enhance your chances of survival by saving up bullets and herbs on top of killing off enemies quicker.

What would've made everything a whole touch better though, was if the flow of a core episode was less predictable. Aside from environments most of the time looking a bit uninspired and drab, in many episodes, Barry's campaign-half, which is set 6 months after the one of Claire and Moira, leads him and his sidekick through the exact same places that Claire and Moira have been to before. Though (again) this makes sense from a storytelling standpoint, after a short while the progression the story will take becomes painstakingly predictable at certain times and therefore occasionally a bit repetetive and dragging during Barry's campaign half.

Enemy variety is quite a big bigger than in the first Revelations yet also not noteworthily large. After a short while you will encounter the same handful of different enemy types over and over again. Along with your common infected zombies you also get to know a new type of zombie - the Afflicted. The Afflicted though are nothing too new and are therefore just as easily taken down as any of the Parasite Zombies from RE4, 5 or 6, yet they are significantly faster.
Fortunately enough, Revelations 2 also features a good share of boss battles that help to shake things up a bit. Boss designs and boss fights are also nothing too special yet deliver a nice change of pace once in a while throughout the roughly 7 - 8 hour campaign.


"Haven't I seen you before?"


Upgrades - "Gear-Kits of War"


Also making a return is the upgrade system from the original Revelations. With unlockable treasure chests hidden in the environment that hold valuable upgrade-kits, you can upgrade your weapons with custom parts. Custom parts can therefore be attached flexibly to individual firearms and grant the weapon specific bonuses like more damage, faster reload time or even more exotic enhancements like charged shots. It's definitely a good feeling to find an upgrade-kit and to be able to experiment with different combinations, which in the end isn't only fun but also somewhat crucial to surviving the more tricky parts of the game.

Additionally, each character himself has upgradable skills via earned BP points (or XP). While most of the unlockable skills are standard fare like getting more health through an herb or a more efficient knife, some others come off as a bit weird and unuseful. The weirdest of the bunch in that regard is a way overpriced ability to stop an action in mid-execution.



Experimenting with upgrades is fun and crucial.


Raid Mode - "Here's For The Fans"

The beloved Raid Mode also makes a comeback in Revelations 2 and is even more fleshed out and in-depth than before.
In a large number of missions with different goals, like killing all appearing enemies or defending a position, players earn golden XP to level up their characters and weapons in a seperate progression from the main campaign. What seems like a generic way to extend the game's replayability though quickly shows to be a suprisingly longlasting reason to keep on playing Revelations 2.
The Raid Mode in Revelations 2 is somewhat RPG focussed with each monster's strength being level based and appropriately rising with each mission. To take things even further, monsters can also boast enhancements like shields or elemental powers which will eventually make taking them out more difficult.
But most of all, The Raid Mode features playable characters, monsters and locations not seen in the main story. Thus, for example playing as Albert Wesker fighting against Hunters in the streets of Racoon City is absolutely possible in Raid Mode and gives the game a great dose of nice fan service.
Surely enough, Raid Mode can be addicting for the sole motivation of wanting to find out what monsters and locations the next unlockable mission holds. On top of that, Raid Mode can also be played with a friend via online co-op. Why then there is no online co-op support for the main campaign?...No idea.


Oftentimes, the Raid Mode can feel quite a bit like an action-RPG.


Graphics

Graphically, Revelations 2 is nothing to write home about. Though it's absolutely servicable and boasts a steady fluid framerate, even on PS4 and Xbox One the visuals look very tame and on last-gen level, while some might even consider calling RE6 a better looking game. The PC-Version however sadly comes off as incredibly buggy with severe framerate issues that will make the game for many PC-gamers practically unplayable (at least without an effective patch).
The game's artdesign also could've been a bit more memorable. Whereas locations nail the gloomy and threatening atmosphere fairly well despite being a bit monotone, monster designs are for the most part too generic and "theme-less" to be memorable when looking back at the big roster of Resident Evil monsters.


Sound
 

Capcom sadly enough still hasn't figured out yet how good and believable dialogue is written, yet the cheesy dialogue simultaneously has become somewhat of a franchise staple now. Otherwise, the voice acting work is done respectably well enough with fitting voice actors doing the performances along with good overall sound design. Yet, it's all nothing to write home about.
"I almost became a Jill Sandwich, Claire!"



The Verdict

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 does mostly succeed in blending the franchise's old-school gameplay with the main series' recent action-oriented direction. Thus, puzzle solving, managing your arsenal and exploring the environment for new items is combined well with straight forward third-person shooter fare. And while it's nicely put under the hood of a big cooperative experience, it just becomes a damn shame that the game limits your sidekick's abilities so much to the point that they ultimately become assistants instead of equally capable partners. With that said, while playing the game solo makes for a good enough experience on its own, playing with a friend via local co-op has the player assuming the role of the sidekick do all the busy work while "the one with the gun" gets to do the fun stuff. Capcom's intentions of making both players depending on each other are respectable yet therefore not pulled off in an equally entertaining fashion for both sides.
Furthermore, Revelations 2 features a story that nicely builds itself on top of the franchise's lore and introduces fresh new characters, relationships and ideas. It all makes for an exciting journey through the island that would've felt much less standard and more satisfying though, if it ultimately was less predictable and filled more of its unexplained plot holes through...well, actual "revelations".
A big plus on the other hand is the game's fan-service-heavy Raid Mode, which is made even more addictive and fun to play than before.

Just like its predecessor, Revelations 2 is a nice change of pace for the franchise and shows that it actually can succeed even when going in new directions that focus more on the franchise's roots.
Yet, despite being overall a fun experience, Revelations 2 nevertheless feels like a very standard and tame Resident Evil game. Certainly you will get the most out of the game if you just always play as "the one with the gun", but even then, Revelations 2 probably still remains a fun yet fairly forgettable entry in the series given its share of flaws and overall standard story.



          
 Final Verdict: 6 out of 10 

Status: Okay





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