Resident Evil Revelations 2 is a follow up to its predecessor and expands upon the foundation it built. This time they went for a downloadable episodic formula with characters that played differently and with new elements not seen before in the series. In many cases it falls short to when compared to the first and in other areas it surpasses it.
Release Date: February 25, 2015 (March 20, 2015 Retail Version)
Price: $29.99 (Deluxe), $39.99 (Bundled With First Revelations)
Approximate Size: 22.1 GB
Genre: Survival Horror
Reviewed on Xbox One; also available on Playstation 4 and PC.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 takes the episodic formula of its predecessor and goes in another direction. Instead of having all the episodes at once, you get one episode at a time with others reserved for download once they are completed, much like Life Is Strange and other episodic adventures. However as of the writing of this review all episodes are available.
The story of this game follows Claire Redfield and Moira Burton as they find themselves awakened, after being kidnapped, inside prison cells on an isolated island. From here the two of them must work together to survive and figure out what exactly is going on and why they were attacked. Where the first had a terrorist group as the antagonist, this game has a woman known as the Overseer who seemingly has connections to beloved series antagonist Albert Wesker.
Upon learning of his daughter’s disappearance, and in Taken fashion, Barry Burton sets out in search of his daughter and lands on the island. Upon arrival he runs into a little girl named Natalia and, as the responsible father he is, decides to take her with him to protect her.
Where this game differs from the first the most is its decision to tell a personal story about a father and a daughter and the complexities of their relationship. Barry loves his daughter and wants to protect her as much as he can but at the same time can’t let go and allow her to make her own mistakes. He wants to protect her at all costs. Moira on the other hand is so desperate to be independent and prove herself that she seemingly goes out of her way to ignore her father and disobey him. couple this with the strong sense of guilt that plagues Moira, you have the dynamic of a daughter who needs her father and the father who feels he failed in protecting his daughter. I quite enjoyed this aspect of the story because it is, if nothing else, relatable.
Like its predecessor, Revelations 2 is a third person experience with the over the shoulder perspective popularized by Resident Evil 4. Many of the core gameplay aspects of the first are back with one large omission, the Genesis does not return. Instead the game decides, much like the first did, to try something new.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 adds an RPG element in the form of a skill tree. As you go through the game, you can add skills and level them up as you gather skill points. It’s the first time a Resident Evil game attempts something like this and it pulls it off surprisingly well. Yes, some skills are generic like making herbs heal you faster but others are nice incentives and push a different play style to maximize their benefits. Some skills benefit other characters so you have to really think out how you plan on playing instead of aimlessly buying all the skills in order or focusing on leveling up one particular skill instead of getting multiple ones.
Characters and their differences is another major change from the first Revelations. In the first all the characters played the same for the most part but in this game, each character has a definitive job and you can change between them with the touch of a button effortlessly. Claire is your all around character who can use the weapons to take out enemies while Moira does not use any weapons but a flashlight. Moira is more useful than you may think. Her flash light can blind enemies, opening opportunities for Claire and she can carry items if Claire’s inventory is full. It’s a nice call back to Resident Evil Zero. On the other side of the spectrum, the team of Barry and Natalia play different from Claire and Moira. Natalia can’t carry anything and she has no weapons, what she does have is the ability to locate and mark enemies as well as reach locations Barry can’t. Vulnerability is at an all-time high when you have to play as Natalia and leave Barry, your tank with all the weapons and a backpack to carry items, in search of a way to open locations for Barry to join you. The characters balance one another well and in many cases the characters with the least offer the most.
Like the first, there is a healthy variety of weapons with weapon parts scattered across the game to upgrade the weapons. This was an enjoyable aspect of the first and it’s nice to have it back in this sequel.
Another gameplay element this game utilizes well is its incorporation of stealth. Even though this game throws a lot of ammo at you, it also throws a variety of enemies as well. Many times, I found myself without any ammunition and stealth was my only course of action. Its implemented well and your heart races as you slowly approach an enemy and they move slightly. It’s even more satisfying to successfully stealth kill the enemies. Speaking of enemies, there is a variety but I did expect more. That being said, there is more variety in this game than the first. another thing this game does well with its enemies, like the first, are its boss battles. The boss battles are well done and beautifully grotesque, as they should be. The invisible enemies in this game were the most unenjoyable aspect of the game for me. I know the invisibility is to make them harder and there is a way to “see” them but I found it really unenjoyable but that probably has to do more with me and my skills than with the game itself.
Unlike the first, you can play through the campaign with another person but only locally. I had no complaints playing through the story with the A.I. but playing with another human is more enjoyable but also more chaotic. Each character retains their abilities and what makes them unique. That being said, its stress inducing when your swarmed by enemies they are about to attack when your partner, as you yell at them to help, shines their flashlight at the enemy at the last second giving you an opportunity to get out of the way. It’s a welcomed addition, especially when couch co-op seemingly becomes less and less a priority for developers.
The lack of online co-op is once again disappointing in the campaign but the first didn’t have it either and, like the first, it’s not a deal breaker. It was more wishful hoping if anything else, especially when prior entries in the Resident Evil franchise has had it before.
Raid Mode returns bigger and better than the first. You have more characters than the first with different costumes and each character has their own progression and level up system. The RPG skill tree from the campaign returns to Raid Mode, though nothing carries over, and each character has their own skill tree. This adds to the mode as you now have to master each character and level them up before you can swap characters in the latter maps. This version of Raid Mode really goes out of its way to help you to feel accomplished and even expressive, as the mode has emotes for the various characters.
The maps are more varied than the first Revelations with locations coming from Revelations 2, Resident Evil 6, and the first Revelations. The variety is a nice touch and adds to the nostalgia as you go through levels you remember going through as Chris Redfield in RE6. What is new in these maps is that you can opt to finish the map early instead of killing all the enemies but killing them all nets a higher score. There is also hidden weapon records that has weapons not found in the store and this is an incentive to explore the map instead of rushing through them to kill all the enemies and get a quick completion time. Also, I did notice the maps finished quicker in this version of Raid Mode than the first’s. Not a complaint, just an observation.
With more maps than the first, this incarnation also has more enemy variety. It comes with the small variety present in campaign mode but in certain maps they have buffs on them. You may run into an enemy from the story that was easily killable only to see that in this particular map it has a shield buff or flame ability that’ll set your world ablaze. It’s an unexpected addition that I was conflicted about at first because I didn’t feel elements like this fit in the Resident Evil universe but as I played through the mode and lost myself in the wonderful gameplay, none of that mattered. This is the definitive version of Raid Mode and a fantastic experience like the first and it’s even better when you take this experience online. Unlike the first, you can actually play the Raid Mode through local couch co-op and it’s just as fun, if not better, than it is online.
This isn’t the most beautiful game on the market but it does run at a smooth framerate and I suffered no stuttering, no slowdown, and no performance issues. Solid performance is more important than next level graphics, to me. That being said, it’s not an ugly game. Textures are muddy in some areas but there is no pop up nor does the game ever struggle to render something or have something sprout out of nowhere like some games have. What it sets out to tell the player, it excels at. For example, when you awaken in the prison cell you can tell no one has been there in a long, long, time. The floor and bed is stained with dirt and it looks filthy. Blood stained walls give you the impression something bad either just happened or happened long ago but it reminds you that whatever caused that could still be out there. Like I said, it’s not the best but it succeeds where it’s meant to.
The lighting in the game is well done. I was constantly looking over my shoulder as the shadows played with my mind as I walked through dimly lit areas. If it’s one thing the Resident Evil series nails tremendously, its atmosphere and this game is no exception. The game is presented, graphically, to instill a sense of dread and uneasiness as you continue your journey for salvation. It’s nice to see this core element brought back after it being seemingly forgotten over time in prior entries, namely Resident Evil 5 and 6.
Character models aren’t exactly jaw dropping. You can tell more time and care went into the core characters when compared to other NPCs and that’s not really saying much as they also look kind of rough. I think where the game shines graphically is with its enemy design. They look horrifying and detailed as they are disfigured, sometimes mutated, messes. They add more to the game than they would have if they were the weakest aspect of the graphics. Thankfully they are not.
All in all it’s a rough looking game but that is balanced by the smooth gameplay and it never detracts from the game. Could it have used more time to polish up the graphics? Sure. Would that make it a better game? Probably not.
The sound of this game is great. Guns make satisfying sounds as they fire and headshots reward you with a fulfilling crunch as heads explode upon bullet impact. The enemies make their own sound and when you progress through an area slowly, cautiously, you can hear them before you even see them. This isn’t new to the genre but it might be some of the best in the series. You’d be surprised how many times I had to stop myself from going forward because I heard a sound and this changed my course of action. Instead of proceeding forward I felt the need to eliminate the enemy so that he wouldn’t creep behind me and give myself peace of mind. This is also useful to attempt those stealth kills and save ammunition for more compelling moments.
The tone is low with sound effects from flickering lights and creaking doors as you proceed through the game but when you engage enemies, the music begins and it adds more pressure and stress to the player as it ramps up and enemies begin to multiply. The enemies attack you viciously and with a violent display as they growl and screech with each attack that’s both jarring and fear inducing.
This is all beautifully orchestrated and adds to the atmosphere while bringing terror back to the series. Sometimes it isn’t even the enemies that adds to the sweaty palms and immediate slow pace you take but, instead, it’s the lack of enemies present but the slow increase in sound alerting you that something is about to happen. The sound of this game is some of the best in the series and makes up where the graphics let down.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 expands upon the first’s, some areas better and some areas worse. Raid Mode is a big step forward with more map variety and enemies. It adds new gameplay elements to the series in the form of the skill tree and each playable character has their own traits and styles. The story is more convoluted than the first but more relatable in some aspects (primarily Barry and Moira).
The format in which the game plays is a throwback to both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Zero, although it feels like the polished version. Graphically, it isn’t the best looking game but the sound does make up for it. Overall, it continues in the right direction the first started and is a vast improvement over RE5 and RE6 in terms of atmosphere and attention to survival horror gameplay.