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Resident Evil: Revelations 2

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Feb. 24, 2015 (US), Feb. 25, 2015 (EU)


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PS4 Review - 'Resident Evil: Revelations 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 4, 2015 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

The beginning of the Resident Evil Revelations 2 tale sees fan favorite Claire Redfield make a dramatic return to the horrors that haunted her in the past.

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is set not too long after the events of RE5. It features Clare Redfield, who is part of TerraSave, a human rights organization that was formed in the aftermath of the biological terror attacks from the previous games. She is accompanied by the daughter of Resident Evil 1 vet Barry Burton, Moira, who joined TerraSave to do good and tick off her dad. During Moira's welcome party, a mercenary organization invades and kidnaps them and most of their co-workers. The pair wakes up on a monster-infested island and must find a way to escape. The second part portion is set a few months after Claire and Moira's kidnapping, with Barry trying to find his daughter on the island. He discovers an abandoned girl named Natalia, who is trapped alone on the island, but she may be the key to its mysteries.

Revelations 2's plot is surprisingly self-aware and makes fun of itself quite a bit. Claire is presented as a world-weary veteran who treats a zombie apocalypse like just another Friday. In comparison, Moira is foulmouthed but utterly bewildered by the monster-filled island. They make a fun pair and carry the somewhat-nonsensical plot. Barry and Natalia are a little weaker. She's rather boring and clichéd, but fortunately, Barry may be the highlight of the game. Despite his quest, he's the same ridiculous dork he was in the original RE. His cheesy lines have been recontextualized into a fondness for terrible dad jokes. Aside from a few moments, the script isn't scary, but it's strong enough to make the game fun instead of tedious.

Revelations 2 follows the co-op model that most of the recent RE titles have featured. Each of the two stories has two characters that you can swap between at the press of a button, or you can play cooperatively via split-screen. The main character on each team is a traditional RE protagonist. Claire and Barry are combat-capable, hardened badasses. They wield guns with ease and can perform follow-up melee attacks on enemies who've been injured or stunned. If you've played any RE game, you have a good idea of how these guys play. They can customize their weapons by using special upgrades found throughout the stages, and they gain an increasingly powerful arsenal as the game progresses.

The second half of the team varies a bit. With Claire, you have Moira, who, due to a tragic incident in her youth, has a pathological fear of guns and refuses to use them. She makes up for this by being the supportive member of the team. She carries a flashlight and a hefty metal pipe. The flashlight can be aimed like a gun, and it can reveal hidden items that Claire can't see. Additionally, shining the beam on an enemy can stun or incapacitate them. Moira can also smack enemies with her pipe to damage them or finish them off. Instead of a flashlight, Natalia has a special "sense" that allows her to see enemies through walls and point them out to Barry. Against certain foes, she can also see normally invisible weak points and hidden items. She is even less combat-capable than Moira. Her only weapons are bricks that she tosses at enemies. Both characters can use special items to attack, but they're in short supply.

Playing as the partner is an interesting idea, but it might not appeal to everyone. You're effectively trading off most of your combat capabilities in exchange for utility. In single-player, you'll spend a good chunk of your time playing as Moira or Natalia because of their ability to find hidden items. This goes double for Natalia, who is necessary for spotting weak points and avoiding ambushes. In multiplayer, one character is stuck in this role. I found it enjoyable, and it's a nice way for a less shooter-oriented player to get into the game, but it's also very easy for a player to get frustrated. Compared to characters like Sheva or the partners in RE6, you're very limited in direct combat, which can be annoying in areas where one partner does most of the heavy lifting. On the other hand, they also get the most solo areas in the game.

The cooperative idea is interesting, but it falls apart under the strain. The first major flaw is that there is no online cooperative play — aside from Share Play on the PS4, which is a poor substitute. This really brings out the same flaws that you saw in RE5 but perhaps more so. The partner AI is extremely bad. They'll often run right into danger and not use their abilities properly. You can swap between the two characters, but this is a mixed blessing. It isn't a big deal when Moira or Natalia get injured, since they have regenerating health and a pick-up mechanic that allows them to be rescued after taking damage. Claire and Barry are not so fortunate, so if you swap to your partner only to have Claire hug a drill-wielding monster, the game can end due to what feels like no fault of your own. It's fun when you have a local co-op partner, but the single-player feels compromised by the co-op design.

The pacing is pretty unusual. Each of the chapters is divided into two segments: Claire and Barry. Claire's segments are set in the past and tend to be more survival-horror. You have weaker weapons, more durable enemies, and are generally at a disadvantage. In comparison, Barry is heavily armed and, thanks to Natalia, forewarned of most danger. Since he's going through the remains of the island after Claire and Moira have already been there, he handles what they left behind with his arsenal of weapons and ammunition. That isn't to say Clare never gets to cut loose or Barry never needs to be careful, but there's a noticeable difference between the two segments. It's akin to the first Revelations, with Jill chapters and "Other" chapters.

This split-chapter pacing allows for some cool elements. Things you do in Claire's chapter will influence Barry's chapter. If you make things easier in Claire's chapter, they'll be harder in Barry's, and vice versa. Your first time through, you'll probably take the route where Barry has to do the heavy lifting, but for other playthroughs (including speed runs), you might want to cut Claire some slack. Her challenges may be more difficult, but they can cut up to 45 minutes from Barry's adventures. If you have a hard time with one of the chapters, you can also replay Claire's portion and try to make things easier for Barry.

The split-chapter pacing also comes with a lot of recycling. While both characters have unique challenges, you're going to see a lot of the same content. There are variations, including different monsters, different times of days and different puzzles, but Barry's chapters can feel a little repetitive because the thrill of discovery is gone. Barry's chapters are the most fun when he's not following Claire but carving his own path. There's a slightly annoying element of the split-feature, where getting the "good" ending involves doing something on Claire's path that you might miss during a co-op game.

Each chapter is relatively short, so you can run through both sides in an hour or two, though it varies heavily by chapter and depends on the shortcuts you did or didn't utilize. There's a fair bit of content, and there are a lot of hidden niches and secrets to discover. Weapon upgrades and cash are scattered throughout the stages. Some can't be accessed without doing something on Claire's path first. There are multiple difficulty modes for added challenge. There are also two bonus campaigns starring Moira and Natalia that detail some of their time without the other characters. Moira's involves a survival mechanic where you need to salvage food, and Natalia's is almost entirely stealth-based. Both are an interesting diversion but not very exciting.

The bulk of the content is in Raid Mode, which returns from the first Revelations and is the replacement for the series' now-traditional Mercenaries mode. It's best described as Resident Evil: Diablo. You're placed in a pre-designed stage, many of which are pulled from previous RE titles, though mostly RE6. This stage is populated by enemies both new and old, and you need to kill them to collect loot drops. Enemies come in many shapes and sizes and can have modifiers to make them even more difficult to kill. Finishing a stage earns you rewards that can transfer into better upgrades, and finishing stages with a high score and without getting injured can yield even more bonuses.

There's a wide variety of characters to play, including the entire cast of Revelations 2 and several cameos from earlier games in the franchise. Each character has distinct skills, which can range from using crafted bottles as bombs to turning invisible or killing enemies by dancing. (No, really.) Leveling up a character allows you to transfer skills between characters to create powerful uber-characters who can dominate the harder challenges. Unlike the main campaign, the Raid mode offers online cooperative play, so you can go up against the toughest foes with a friend at your side. Beyond a certain point, much as in Revelations 1, the game starts to get a bit grindy and repetitive. It's fun, and if it gets its hooks into you, it's a ton of content, but it's very much an acquired taste.

Revelations 2 is clearly a budget affair. The graphics aren't bad, but they're certainly of a lower quality than recent console RE offerings. There are some nice graphics here and there, but by and large, it leaves you feeling pretty unimpressed. It isn't much of a step up from the HD port of Revelations, which was originally a 3DS game. This stands out most in the "throwback" levels, which look much worse than their counterparts on the previous-gen consoles. However, the voice acting is surprisingly good, and it's aided by a fun script. The voice actors really sell Moira's foul-mouthed antics and Barry's inappropriate dad jokes, and it helps to make the characters endearing. The soundtrack is enjoyable but unremarkable.

The low price point and episodic release of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 don't hide its status as a budget title. It has its strengths, including some pretty cool monster design and fun puzzles, but by and large, almost everything it does has been done better by another RE title. RE fans will enjoy themselves, but otherwise, there isn't a ton to boost Revelations 2 above its predecessor. It's not a bad game, but it lacks any real strengths. The Raid mode is the meat of the game, but it can only hold one's interest for so long.  

Score: 7.0/10

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