As a bit of a Resi nut, I’d like to clear something up before I get going with this article. The last few Resident Evil games have SUCKED! 5 in particular was, in my opinion, absolutely shocking, and is a perfect example of what can happen when a developer tries to turn a hugely popular, but not necessarily brilliant selling, series into a mainstream property. Most fans of the series would agree that the first four games are, far and away, the high watermark for survival horror, or in the case of Leon Kennedy’s European adventure in 4, brilliantly paced and written action horror.
So, with those complaints ringing in their ears, Capcom released Resident Evil: Revelations. And, to be fair, it wasn’t terrible. There were still quite a few issues, and it was never going to be a huge seller following the minor disappointment that was Resident Evil 6, but while it never seemed to be a particularly horror- based game, it was a decent effort at doing something slightly different with the series.
Following on from that, comes Revelations 2. At first glance, I’m the first to admit that I was a little bit apprehensive. When Capcom announced the release structure, my first thought was that they were just milking the cash cow for all it was worth. However, it’s really well done. The idea is that they’ll release it digitally first, over online marketplaces like Steam, or the Xbox/Playstation equivalents, as individual episodes, with each episode ending on some kind of cliffhanger, before finally ending on Episode 4. The episodes are released weekly, and they cost about £4 a piece, and based on the first 2, look to be of a decent length. Once the series of episodes has finished, they’ll release the Complete Collection including some additional content, which will set you back about £30. On top of that, they’ll be releasing a disc version, with even more content, for the same price.
The concept is good too. There are two sides to each chapter. The first side sees you contolling Resident Evil 2 protagonist Claire Redfield, returning for the first time since Resident Evil Code Veronica X, and her AI, or co-op if you prefer, partner Moira Burton. They work for a Bio-terrorism prevention group known as TerraSave, and were both kidnapped, along with many of their co-worker’s by masked gunmen. The opening episode shows them wake up and quickly explains what appears to be the general theme of the game, but I’ll discuss that later. The second part of the episodes features a returning character too. For those in the know, perhaps all that is needed is to mention the words “Jill Sandwich”. For those who maybe know a bit less, the primary character in this half is Barry Burton, a back up character from the original Resident Evil. He also has back up in the shape of a young girl, Natalia Korda.
Now, to explain the story. In typical Resi fashion, the story seems to be a bit of a stretch, although there are a few occasional nods to this, showing that the developers know that this is the case, and have decided to make it a staple part of the series. When Claire and Moira wake up, they discover that they have been taken to an unknown island facility of some kind. They also notice that they have each been given some kind of bracelet, through which you are introduced to, presumably, the antagonist of the game. She introduces herself as “The Overseer”, and in some typically weird and convoluted dialogue, which is a hallmark of the series, explains that the bracelets change colour according to the emotion you feel. She also drops a hint that implies that everybody on the island is infected with a mystery virus, and that a specific emotion triggers the virus, changing you into one of the games infected, known as the “Afflicted”.
The combat feels good, and the way they’ve created a difference between playing as either Claire or Moira is brilliance. Claire handles the combat, while Moira has a flashlight, and a crowbar to use as either a melee weapon or as a way to break into doors or chests. Moira even goes so far as to refuse a gun, mentioning that she’ll never use guns and hinting at some kind of tragedy or accident in the past that has caused this. It works really, really well, and suggests that finally, Capcom may have found a way to bring co-op in a meaningful way into the genre.
The fact that you have to rely on the partner character, whether AI controlled or played by a friend, in order to either defend yourself, or to be able to see, is really well worked, and based from the first two episodes, never gets too over bearing, and requires actual teamwork. This helps to create even more tension, which is good, as the Claire sections, in particular, seem focused on a horror format, which again, seems to be really well worked.
Eventually, Claire and Moira make their way to a radio broadcast tower, and send out an SOS, which ties into the beginning of Barry’s section.
Barry, a member of the BSAA (Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Alliance), has been sent to the same island, and has also discovered that Moira could well be there. He lands on the island, having traced Moira and Claire’s SOS, and almost immediately runs into a child called Natalia, who becomes his partner character. Eventually, they get to the broadcast tower that Claire and Moira used, after going through entirely different environments, as well as a couple of recycled ones from the first scenario. They then discover that the SOS is almost half a year old, and upon hearing Moira’s name, Natalia drops a bombshell. But you can find that out for yourselves.
Again, the two characters in this scene work differently. Barry is again the combat character, and has a huge resistance to damage, as well as coming well equipped with three seperate weapons, each of which is extremely effective in it’s own ways. He also has his own flashlight. This might leave you wondering what Natalia’s function is. She has a strange ability, which will, presumably, be explained later in the game. It allows her to ‘see’ enemies outline, even through walls or other obstacles.
While the Barry/Natalia sections work more as an action based game, this still pushes the necessity of good teamwork, as it’s always likely that you could miss a few enemies without her, meaning that it’s important to constantly co-ordinate with your partner and communicate. And again, it’s well done. While at the first, Natalia’s ability seems like it may take out the challenge from the game, there are more enemies, of different types to what you encounter in Claire’s scene, than before. They move and fight differently and there are a lot of area’s where it’s still easy to get overwhelmed, which can, on higher difficulties, end in a swift and brutal demise at the hands of the horrific monsters that just want to chew on you for a bit.
Based on what’s been released so far, Revelations 2 looks like it could be the game that Resi fans have been waiting for, and it has, deservedly, gained good reviews so far, with most sites and magazines giving it a solid rating of between 7-8.5 out of 10, which is a big improvement on the recent output from the series. Hopefully, the final two episodes, and extra content, can live up to what has, so far, been a thoroughly enjoyable and well put together action horror romp.