Friday, March 3, 2017

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 review

    I'm catching up on all of the various Resident Evil titles I've missed since I stopped following the series around Code Veronica. That's quite a few games and I decided to start with Resident Evil 4, moved on to Resident Evil 7, and am now just finished with Resident Evil: Revelations 2. I wanted to play Resident Evil: Revelations first but, well, that's not yet available on Xbox One. Also, I was kind enough to get the first episode in the series free and that was another good incentive to purchase the game.

    So what did I think? It's a pretty good game but nothing which was particularly game changing. You can tell this was made for a less complicated system than the Xbox One and I think they could have pressed the limits more. The game is a hybrid between the more action orientated Resident Evil 5 and previous survival horror entries in the franchise. Basically, that boils down to "you wander around a lot of creepy locations and run into regular monsters you have to kill despite limited ammunition."

Claire and Moira makes a fun pair.
    The premise is Claire Redfield and new character Moira Burton are kidnapped along with the entirety of the Terra Save organization. Terra Save is basically a Doctors without Borders for bioweapon victims. Transported to a mysterious island, they are all given bracelets to monitor their fear levels as they're put up against an endless parade of mutants as well as lethal death traps. It's basically a combination of Saw and the Hunger Games, which isn't a bad idea for a video game. Gloating over this grotesque nightmare is the mysterious Overseer (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) who has one of the most recognizable voices in gaming and helps sell the situation.

    The Claire and Moira portions of the story only last about half of each episode, though, as we pick up with Barry Burton investigating what happened to them. Barry, fan favorite of the original games, is understandably concerned about his missing daughter. As he backtracks through the locations already visited by our heroines, he is accompanied by a young girl named Natalia who has mysterious abilities. Eventually, the two stories merge together and we get roughly four episodes of a decent enough horror experience.

The game has about a six or seven enemy types total.
    Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a definite journeyman effort in video games and one I recommend people play when they don't have anything better to. It's fun and I have no objections to the game. I've finished it completely and had a few scares during it. However, you can definitely tell this was a game made on a budget with numerous tricks designed to hide it. In addition to most of the levels being done in reverse with Barry, you also have a limited enemy variety and an extremely small cast. Despite this, I give the developers credit for making use of their budget to the level they did.

    The story is a lot less complex than what I've heard about Revelations, amounting to a lot of B-movie horror tropes thrown together. Resident Evil has never been the most morally complex of series but the Overseer is a variety of cliches thrown together which end up making her come off like a comic book supervillain. Sadistic mad scientist? Check. Plot to achieve immortality? Check? Relationship to other character in the franchise? Check. Aristocratic pretensions and need to gloat over the heroes she could kill at any time? Check and check. It was satisfying taking her out in the end simply so she'd shut up. However, the Overseer is a villain I "love" to hate versus one I hate-hate so there's something to be said for her over-the-top nature.

The monsters are suitably grotesque but lose punch over time.
    Really, this is a game which depends on how much you like the main characters to enjoy and I'm pleased to say I like them a lot. Moira is a great character and has rapidly moved up to be one of my top five favorite Resident Evil girls, which is an impressive achievement given they're some of the best characters in gaming. Claire is my favorite of them all and it's nice to see her star in a third game. I remember how disappointed I was she wasn't going to be in Resident Evil: Damnation. Barry is an enjoyable character and has a relatable story even if it's a little The Last of Us to quite work.

    Indeed, the simplicity of the game belies how intelligently it uses its limited assets. You can do a decent amount of strategy by making use of everyone's specific talents. Claire and Barry are the bruisers, doing most of the fighting heavy lifting. However, Moira can stun enemies with her flashlight and finish them off with her crowbar once downed. Natalia's bricks can also be useful as well as the fact she's all but indestructible (if you want to use her that way--you monster!). There's also a bunch of simple but enjoyable puzzles to solve spread throughout the game that give it a sense of classic RE fun.

Here's Joel and Ellie-oh wait.
    I should mention this game has a Raid mode and two bonus episodes which help pad the length. It's also episodic so you can test it out, Demo style, before you decide to make a full purchase. I'm a big proponent of episodic gaming even if a lot of fans find it controversial. I also like the alternate costumes provided this time around even if I'm probably being awful by having Claire travel around in a sexy cowgirl outfit while Moira wears a bikini and shorts with a unzipped hoodie.

    In conclusion, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is a fun game and I'm glad I played it all the way through. I may also give it another whirl now that I've unlocked all the New Game+ bonuses. It's an easy game with easy puzzles but a great time-waster. I also enjoyed the characters and their banter. The storyline is nothing to write home about but sometimes you just want a mad scientist and their plot to take over the world. Still, I can't help but think if they'd made this a full game with Claire and Moira with more focus on storytelling then it'd be a awesome one.


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