When news of Resident Evil Revelations 2 first hit the gaming community, I could barely contain my excitement. Claire Redfield was making her first appearance since my favorite title, 1999’s Resident Evil: Code Veronica. In addition, veteran character Barry Burton’s daughter, Moira, was due to make her debut. For the first time in a good while, I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of a console game.
Although Revelations 2 was initially released episodically starting in February, I didn’t touch it until recently. I picked it up the day it came out as a game disc, but refrained from playing, as I was too preoccupied with finishing up spring semester. Needless to say, I kept far away from any spoilers in order to maximize my playing experience.
I returned for the summer two weeks ago and devoted five days to completing the game, losing myself in hours of suspenseful and action-packed gameplay. Initially, I had my doubts. Other recent Resident Evil titles have failed to live up to the series’ longstanding survival horror reputation. I played Resident Evil 5 and 6, and whilst both were good games on their own, they didn’t fit the namesake of the series they belonged to. Too much action and not enough terror, puzzles, or cryptic villains to sate the appetite of a voracious, longtime fan. The first installment of the Revelations series was a step in the right direction, but engaged me less due to a cast of almost entirely new characters. Revelations 2 captivated me from the second it was announced – old characters, tributes to earlier installments, and improved gameplay were only a handful of the features I was excited to experience.
Story & Plot
One of the most engaging elements of Revelations 2 is its dedication in paying tribute to past Resident Evil titles, specifically 2 and Code:Veronica. The game maintains its constant flow of nicely woven allusions, which enhance the value of both the gameplay and storyline for diehard fans.
Revelations 2 opens with a beautiful cinematic sequence that acquaints the player with both our heroines. Claire, now in her early thirties and donning professional attire, is attending a reception for TerraSave, the organization she belongs to. Moments later, Moira is introduced – twenty and first day on the job, she’s tall, mouthy, and rebellious. It’s made very evident that her relationship with Barry is strained. Father and daughter tension is mentioned twice in the span of the four minute cutscene, one of said times by Moira herself.
Just as Claire goes to talk with Moira about Barry, the room falls dark and within seconds, the all too familiar glare of a helicopter search light penetrates the window – a nice tribute to Code: Veronica’s unforgettable intro sequence. The room is infiltrated by masked agents, and the whole thing ends after Claire is injected with a sedative, causing everything to fade out.
The actual campaign begins with Claire and Moira awakening in a dilapidated prison, where they encounter each other by fortuity and proceed to fight their way out of the facility. Again, the game opens presents a similar situation to Code: Veronica’s beginning: once again, our heroine finds herself imprisoned on a desolate, infected island. There’s a new big bad, and a new virus that revolves around the prospect of fear. Not to mention, the storyline converges nicely with the canonical timeline of Resident Evil.
Of course, Claire and Moira are only half the game’s story – each of the four episodes contains two parts, one for the two females, and one that features Barry and newcomer Natalia, set six months after Claire and Moira’s campaign. The grim, dismal atmosphere of the island is reminiscent of past games, and boasts numerous puzzles (especially in Barry’s campaign) that will easily have the player engaged and motivated to play the game.
The entire plot is beautifully structured, with both parts of the campaign weaving together almost seamlessly. Like the first Revelations title, each episode is previewed with a dramatic compilation of the last episode’s most heightening moments, which is a nice refresher and certainly an effective tool to lure the player into continuous gameplay.
I was pleasantly surprised by the entire arc of the story. Capcom puts its skill to use and masters the art of suspense by building up to one very climactic finale. The depths of each character are thoroughly explored, which is something I personally adored. Revelations, despite its engaging story, lacked emotional wealth. In this game, humanity is explored extensively, making the characters that much more enjoyable and realistic. There are several times where all four main protagonists find themselves confronted by personal debacles and have to deal with waves of unwanted vulnerability. These dynamics were captured phenomenally – probably my favorite aspect of the entire game.
The game’s interface is a huge improvement from the first Revelations. Characters now have the ability to sprint, which is incredibly handy in situations where enemies come charging from all directions. Most of the controls are similar by default, with the biggest change being that healing is now done with a shoulder button and takes considerably more time. The ability to move and shoot is brought back and is indispensable given the volume of monsters that the player is expected to take on throughout the campaign.
The characters are structurally foils – or in other words, one character is armed and the other one assists with other tools. In Claire and Moira’s campaign, Moira chooses not to wield a firearm but instead a crowbar and a flashlight. Her flashlight can be used to find hidden ammo and other goods, and the crowbar comes in handy when Claire needs to open specific boxes or break through barred off doors. Natalia, on the other hand, can sense the undead and is able to locate invisible enemies that Barry cannot see. The interdependence of the protagonists leads me to my next point: the new cooperative feature, and how the game’s layout practically encourages it.
Perhaps the newest and greatest feature that Revelations 2 brings to the table is the ability to play the campaign cooperatively offline. Two players can now assume the roles of the characters in a split-screen setup. When playing alone, certain scenarios in the campaign can be infinitely frustrating. The AI, for one, is by far one of the worst I’ve encountered. In order to even have Claire or Barry shoot and provide backup, one has to go into the skill store and “unlock” this ability with accrued points. On the contrary, if played with another live person, the game becomes significantly easier. Cooperative scenarios run a lot more smoothly, and players can put their minds together to solve logic.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics on this game are absolutely stunning, both in the actual gameplay and in the cinematics. I was stunned by how wonderfully the characters are captured – not only are details sharp, but the protagonists boast realistic features. I was delighted to see that Claire not only looks worn, but has a realistic and feminine physique unlike many other female video game characters.
The only downside to the aesthetics is the concomitant runtime on the older consoles. Since I don’t yet own an Xbox one or PS4, I played the game on the 360. The graphics and gameplay proved to be almost too much for the system to handle, engendering long load times and sometimes glitchy gameplay.
The soundtrack is well done, and fit the game’s atmosphere very well – Resident Evil never fails to deliver, especially on the big boss fights.
There’s incredible replay value to be found in the game. Not even counting additional content, campaign has two potential endings. Gameplay in the third episode determines the outcome, so there’s motivation for the player to go back and replay it in order to ensure the desired outcome. Re-completion of campaign episodes also earns the player more points, which in turn allows him/her to unlock bonus content such as alternate costumes, concept art, and more.
Revelations 2 also includes two additional campaign sub-episodes, each one circling the individual story of the game’s two new protagonists. “The Struggle” revolves around Moira, and “Little Miss” explores Natalia’s story. There are excellent additions that fill-up plot holes within the game and provide more character depth for the hungry fan.
Finally, there’s the new and improved Raid Mode, which is a fun and enjoyable mode of gameplay that involves taking down enemies whilst trying to survive. Raid Mode comes with Claire and Barry by default, but critical characters in the game’s story can be unlocked upon completion of the main campaign. In addition, other series favorites are able to be unlocked by acquiring completion medallions – another incentive for the player to thoroughly clear Raid Mode, There are countless stages and three modes of difficulty, which is plenty of content to keep the player interested.
I absolutely would recommend this title to anybody who likes cooperative gameplay, captivating plotlines, and logic games. The game is so powerful on its own that it’s able to appeal to all types of gamers, not just series fans – though being a fan makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
Longtime fans who have found themselves disillusioned with the trajectory of the main series should definitely give Revelations 2 a chance. It’s the ultimate redemption, and in my opinion, does the legacy of old time favorites some serious justice. It’s always risky business reviving a character from the dusty annals of a series’ past, but I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. Barry and Claire are beautifully brought back and fleshed out in a way that makes it seem they never disappeared.
Pick it up today and give it a spin – I promise you won’t regret it.