'Resident Evil Revelations 2' Review: Exciting Raid Mode Saves An Otherwise Forgettable Entry
Capcom doesn’t seem to know what to do with the Resident Evil series. The storyline keeps getting more and more convoluted, the games themselves equally so, as evidenced by Resident Evil 6, a game that tried to be everything at once and became master of none.
But there is always hope for the series. Resident Evil Revelations was a surprise critical hit for the 3DS (and later, on consoles in glorious 2D HD), a welcome return to horror for a series that had dipped its toes into action before just jumping straight in. It was spooky in a way the series hadn’t been in years, mostly because for a good portion of the game you were alone on an abandoned cruise ship.
It worked wonderfully and was easily the best entry since the venerated Resident Evil 4, which is why it’s sad to see that Revelations 2 decides to saddle you with a partner once again.
See- co-op does not a good horror game make. It will be a wonderful day when some developer figures out how to do it, but no one has yet. F.E.A.R. 3, Dead Space 3- any previous attempt to share horror with a friend has failed, mostly because it’s easy to feel more secure with someone beside you, especially some dumb friend of yours you’ll be joking with the whole time.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 falls into that trap, but of course you can just play the game solo, switching between the two playable characters. It’s actually the preferred way to play it, as the characters are completely lopsided. There are two main storylines that weave together- one featuring Claire Redfield (of Resident Evil 2 fame) along with Moira Burton (daughter of Barry, from the first game), who have been kidnapped and wake up on some mysterious island with bracelets placed on their wrists by someone who’s seen Battle Royale one too many times.
While they’re trying to escape, Barry is in full-on Dad mode, hunting down his missing daughter. On the island he runs into a creepy little girl named Natalia, who seems to be a test subject of her own. He decides to bring her along, because there’s no way that her weird powers could be a bad thing.
Moira doesn’t use a gun (she’s afraid of them) so instead wields a flashlight that can stun enemies, as well as detect hidden items on the ground. She can also smash enemies with a crowbar if they get too close. Natalia is even worse- she’s a little girl and doesn't have any melee weapons, although she can throw a brick to stun enemies. Her secret is that she can crawl through holes no one else can, and can see enemies through walls, as well as weak spots on them. She’s also the only way that Barry can fight invisible enemies that pop up later on- giant invisible insect creatures that rip your corpse open and lay eggs in it if you let them get too close.
So while it adds a nice little bit of gameplay variety for a single-player game, playing as either of those co-op just means that you have a friend that doesn't like you very much and wants to do all the cool stuff for him or herself.
The core game works the same as any though, as you’ll walk around shooting creatures that pop out at you. I only jumped once during the whole game, which is usually scare-free, and the usually dumb puzzles have been dumbed down quite a bit. There's also a hefty amount of backtracking as you go through each location twice, once with each group. There are just no surprises here- you've got bosses, predictable story twists, and lots and lots of cheesy dialouge. It's servicable but it's nothing we haven't seen before.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 was released in four separate episodes- a first for the series- but that doesn’t really work for it either, as no part is distinct enough to stand out on its own. Since each installment runs you a good five to six hours the campaign is a good-sized one taken all together.
Buy the season pass or the retail disc and you’ll also get two bonus episodes that let you play through missing parts of Moira and Natalia’s storyline. Those who picked up the episodes one by one will be pleased to note that they’re perfect side story material- enjoyable enough and offering some new experiences, but entirely optional. Moira's does have a fun sidecharacter in the form of a stranded Russian, at least.
But the shining part of this whole experience is Raid mode, a version of the Mercenaries mini-game which is present in Resident Evil 3 and 5. Here finally is the part of the game that’s thrilling and infinitely replayable. It offers dozens of levels with specific challenges to play through, most often fighting off waves of enemies and trying to stay alive. Play it enough and you’ll unlock new characters, weapons and skills, and you’ll always feel like you’re advancing. Online co-op play makes it that much more enticing, especially because it just abandons any pretense of Resident Evil being a horror game for straight-up survival action.
Ultimately, that's all we're left with- a middling, forgettable main campaign and a far superior Raid mode that contains all the excitement we haven’t had in the series’ last two installments. It’s just a shame the horror couldn’t make it, too.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 was reviewed from a PS4 code provided by Capcom. It's currently available as a retail disc version, which includes the most important content- playable Hunk for Raid mode. Buy it here.