Continuing my ongoing slog through a backlog of Resident Evil titles, I recently played through, and completed the main campaign of, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 (Capcom, 2015) on Xbox One. After struggling a bit with some aspects of the first game, I had hoped to be more comfortable going into Revelations 2 but Capcom made a few changes that make this title almost unrecognisable from its predecessor. Firstly, unlike its predecessor, Revelations 2 was released for main consoles right from the start, rather than being a HD port of a Nintendo 3DS game. However, rather than being a complete package, this title was released in episodes, presumably to encourage players to become immersed in its storyline; whether this actually worked or not is beyond me as I played the Xbox One version, which contains the entire game on one disc.
Revelations 2 brings Barry Burton and Claire Redfield back to the franchise; like the first game, each is lumbered with a new character who acts as their partner as they fight to escape from an island that is crawling with infected monstrosities. Claire, partnered with Barry’s daughter Moira, attempts to find her way off the island while Barry, teaming up with Natalia, a young girl suffering from amnesia, arrives at the island some six months later in search of his daughter. Like many of the Resident Evil titles released around this time, Revelations 2 plays from a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective; as in its predecessor, players have complete freedom of movement, can shoot and reload while moving, and can use healing items at the touch of a button. Well, not quite a touch; this time, players must hold down the R-trigger to use these items rather than simply pressing one button.
This mechanic is directly tied into the game’s unnecessary and largely pointless skill tree; completing each of the game’s chapters and meeting certain objectives earns the player with BP, which can be spent upgrading certain skills, such as how long it takes to use a herb, how effective they are, and other actions tied in to combat and the player’s partner.
Unlike in Resident Evil: Revelations (ibid, 2012), players can switch between the two team-mates and even play the game with a friend in co-op mode. Unfortunately, whether you’re partnered with Moira or with Natalia, you’ll find the partners to be next to useless. Neither of them can use firearms; Moira can blind and stun enemies with a torch and bash them with a crowbar while Natalia can sneak around unnoticed and throw bricks at zombies. One of the things I disliked about the first game was the “Genesis” device that forced me to constantly scan enemies and the environment for resources. A similar function exists here, unfortunately, as players can only find hidden items with Moira’s torch or Natalia’s convenient “sixth sense”, which means that you’ll have to jump back and forth between your two characters to find everything in each area. While the first game featured some unique enemy designs tied directly to its water-based environment, Revelations 2 opts for the more traditional zombie-like enemies and mutated creatures favoured by the series after Resident Evil 4 (Capcom Production Studio 4, 2005). The major difference here, though, is that these creatures appear to be made of sponge; they will soak up your bullets and still keep coming and some of the larger and more violent enemies may require other tactics to get around.
Barry, for example, can sneak up on enemies and dispatch them in one move but the Glasp, for example, is invisible, requiring players to switch to Natalia and point out and target the creature so Barry can kill it, which is extremely frustrating when involved in combat. In fact, too many of the game’s enemies have instant kill moves; the reoccurring and extremely annoying bullet-sponge first encountered in the junkyard will have you tearing your hair out as you struggle to hit its weak point and avoid its insta-kill move. Once again, players can use Part Boxes to upgrade their weapons; the game’s extensive (and yet restrictive) crafting system also allows players to craft explosive bottles and helpful items to stop bleeding and wipe away gunk, two new status effects that really add to the game’s frustrations. Personally, I found myself loading tourniquets, wipes, and healing items on the partner character, who will automatically use them when you get stuck in a bind.
The game’s narrative is pretty engaging; across four chapters, you’ll attempt to escape from a dire situation and uncover the fate of the characters. In true Resident Evil fashion, though, the plot is far from simple; while it doesn’t jump around as many different places and points in time as its predecessor, it can still be confusing trying to figure out what the mysterious Overseer is up to and uncover the mystery behind the island. On top of that, the game has two potential endings depending on how you deal with the now-traditional “huge tentacle mutating creature” boss battle. This (and the different medals available in each chapter, hidden emblems, and the Achievements) may entice players to revisit chapters from the story once again but, honestly, each chapter is so long that playing casually is not as easy as it was in the first game.
Revelations 2 also features a couple of other game modes; Raid Mode returns, this time as a kind of virtual reality simulation that allows players to play as some classic Resident Evil characters in settings that closely resemble those of older games and battle swarms of enemies. Additional side stories also flesh out the main campaign; “Little Miss” sees players control Natalia and her dark doppelganger, sneaking past monsters in an effort to find her bear, while “The Struggle” sees Moira having to hunt animals to survive and clear previous areas of enemies to stay alive.
I wasn’t massively blown away by Resident Evil: Revelations; it was a bit awkward in places, the story was all over the place, and the enemies were way too aggressive and annoying. A lot of this is the same here; for everything Revelations 2 does better (graphically the game is superior and the locations are a lot easier to navigate; the story is arguably more engaging as well, if a lot more confusing), it also suffers from some of the same drawbacks as well as some all new ones. Forcing players to switch to their partner, who is as good as dead against many of the game’s monstrous enemies, just to solve puzzles, find items, and get through areas is tedious and annoying; the chapters are also too long, making repeated playthroughs a bit of a slog, and any game that makes a regular mid-level boss more difficult than the final boss is one that irks me, especially when this enemy constantly keeps showing back up and can easily one-shot you no matter how well you’re playing.