Review: Resident Evil Revelations 2

ResidentEvilRevelations2-InfoRevelations2-StoryResident Evil Revelations 2, much like the Revelations game that came before it, takes place between two mainline Resident Evil games. The events of Revelations 2 takes place between Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6. The story follows two separate characters across two separate time periods across the same setting.

Claire Redfield and Moira Burton are abducted by a mysterious “overseer” and taken to an island to participate in gruesome and cruel experiments while they attempt to escape. Barry Burton, Moira’s father and long-time friend of Claire and her brother Chris, heads to the island to save them, but not before meeting up with a strange girl named Natalia who accompanies him along the way.

Final Revelations 2 Screen - Barry Natalia RunDespite being an immense fan of the franchise, it’s undeniable that the storyline and the many plot points in the games have degenerated into nothing more than mass produced schlock. But it’s still a guilty pleasure for many fans – and Revelations 2 is no different. The game manages to properly tie itself into the series mythos quite well and as a result is definitely canon candy for fans.

But it’s a pretty middling story overall that sometimes dips into science fiction territory that doesn’t quite frankly feel right in the context of a Resident Evil title. But if you can put this aside you, or if you enjoy the Resident Evil films, you probably will enjoy Revelations 2’s story. Just don’t expect any definitive closure for any of your favourite characters.

Revelations2-PresentationRevelations 2 really wears its budget on its sleeve and this is especially obvious from the game’s presentation. There’s heaps of reused assets here and there and generally most of the locales Claire and Barry will explore have a very subdued or “closed in” feel to them. But while this sounds like a bad thing, it really isn’t, because for the most part the team has crafted a creepy world and used various tricks to make the shortcomings of the game less evident.

But make no mistakes, the way the game is presented is very much on a lower scale and budget than other games like Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil 5, but still looks reasonably good. The closer and more claustrophobic level design suits the horror themes rather well. More bizarrely, the game runs at a very smooth framerate of 60 frames per second too, which is a nice bonus.

Final Revelations 2 Screen - Barry Stand Dead PeopleMore controversially, the voice work is rather flat. Ali Hillis, who many might know as having voiced Lightning from Final Fantasy, has replaced series mainstay Alyson Court as the voice of Claire Redfield and it honestly doesn’t sound right. Other characters strike a reasonable balance between seriousness and cheese, like Barry, but on a whole the voice work is more competent than you’d expect for a Resident Evil game, especially one produced on a tighter budget.

The soundtrack is a rather subdued affair however, though this might mean different things for different people. Most of the tracks in the game are more subtle, ambient tracks that are comprised of various noises and subtleties that help build the game’s environments. The result is nothing particularly memorable, but instead music that just blends into the scenes. Some of the remixed techno bangers that play during Raid Mode are sublime, though, even if they are more action orientated.

Revelations2-GameplayFor the most part, Resident Evil Revelations 2 attempts to balance between the slower and methodically paced exploration segments of older games and the showier, action based set pieces of the newer ones. These attempts are mostly successful, but there are definitely some moments where the game feels like it could be a little bit better paced. Still, the designers’ willingness to allow players to just explore an area without having to shoot everything for long stretches at a time is to be commended in the current industry climate.

The game is split up into episodes, much like its predecessor, but overall does a great job at utilising this format to really keep the player wanting more. Each episode has you playing as Claire and Moira first, and then re-treading familiar (but different) ground as Barry and Natalia. It’s one of the many ways the game manages to get away with reusing some assets here and there, but it’s actually pretty fun to re-explore an area as Barry to see how things have progressed since Claire did the same.

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Final Revelations 2 Screen - Claire and Moira NoteThe combat is a little bit more polarising. Throwing away most of the extra functionality that Resident Evil 6 introduced, Revelations 2 plays like a healthy mix of the original Revelations game with elements of Alan Wake or Gears of War sprinkled in. Characters can now move while aiming and shooting, sprint in any given direction at any time and even evade with the press of a button. It’s more restrictive than Resident Evil 6 (which was sometimes too convoluted for its own good) but it’s freer than Resident Evil 5 and 4.

What Revelations 2 attempts to do a little bit differently is by creating asymmetric partners for the player. Moira doesn’t use guns – instead she can use a crowbar to dole out melee damage or her flashlight to blind enemies and open them up to melee attacks. She’s pretty useful, if not overpowered – but only in the hands of a human player who understands the game. Her AI is quite terrible, but thankfully, she has regenerating health so it’s less of a babysitting job.

Final Revelations 2 Screen - Moira FlashlightNatalia is Barry’s partner, and acts more like a support character. She can point out objects hidden in the game and throw bricks to distract or even slightly damage enemies that might be threatening Barry. Her major ability, however, is similar to The Last of Us’ listen mode – where she can see enemies (and their weak spots, in some respects) through walls. It’s a handy ability that opens up some stealth potential in the game, but might be quite boring for someone playing co-operative mode with another person.

There are a few puzzles here and there, but calling them puzzles is a bit of a stretch. Most of them require players to find an item or two, return it to an area and then progress through the game like normal. It certainly leads to some slightly less linear progression, but is by no means a return to form of the riddle based puzzles seen in Resident Evil and Silent Hill. Still, Revelations 2 definitely improves over its predecessors, so it feels like more of a little victory for the classic franchise fan.

Final Revelations 2 Screen - Claire and Moira Meat ProcessingWhen you’re done with the main campaign, which’ll take about eight or so hours to complete depending on how much you stop to explore your surroundings, the game’s endless content becomes open to the player. Two extra episodes, which we haven’t previously talked about, fill in extra story details between Claire’s and Barry’s campaign while employing more experimental gameplay design. They’re by no means absolutely necessary, but they’re a nice touch for people who want to explore the world of Revelations 2 a bit more.

And while there’s multiple endings, weapons, costumes and modes to play around with in the campaign, Revelations 2’s deceptively deep Raid Mode is some great and amazing fun. Giving players control of wide range of characters, it gives you opportunity to run a gauntlet of enemies using custom load outs and abilities. Some abilities are basic, like improving the functionality of different classes of weapons. Others are bit weirder – allowing you to deal damage to enemies by taunting or even turning them against each other for a while. While the Raid Mode takes a while to get going, it’ll easily lead to at least ten to twenty hours more entertainment for most players – and its co-op too!

Final Revelations 2 Screen - Raid ModeIf you  enjoyed reading our review of the entire Resident Evil Revelations 2 experience, be sure to check out our spoiler free impression pieces on the four individual episodes – Penal Colony, Contemplation, Judgement and Metamorphosis!