My history with the Resident Evil games is a strange one, I didn't like the first one, adored the second, never played the third, nerdgasmed on the fourth one, kinda liked the fifth and well, kinda hated the sixth one. So my expectations for this latest one, Resident Evil Revelations 2, were low to say the least especially hearing about its episodic nature. Well, I am glad to now say that I was dead wrong as this is one of the coolest Resident Evil game I've ever played, sure not without its problems.
We have become accustomed to episodic games thanks to the excellent ones TellTale has put out for quite sometime now, so a Resident Evil with an episodic nature should not scare you. There are a total of 4 main episodes with 2 extra ones to help fill out the gaps. Each episode is divided into two parts, one happening in the present where you control Barry Burton and Natalie while in the other one you relieve events from 6 months before as Claire Redfield and Moira, Barry's daughter. This way of storytelling works really well as you slowly uncover the mystery of the island setting things in motion and experience the effects of your actions 6 months later from a different perspective.
Now to me the Resident Evil universe never quite made sense. Sure I get that a virus turned people to zombie cause duh, but how variants of this virus turns humans and animals into 10, 20, 30 feet disgusting and monstrous creatures makes no sense. And how puny little humans with small firearms can take down these gigantic creatures is beyond me. The same happens in Revelations 2. Claire and Moira, while attending a fund raising type of event, are kidnapped along with every attendee and taken to this mystery island where sh*t has hit the fan. After waking up and getting out of the cells, Claire and Moira begin their venturing inside this scary cliched looking asylum fighting their way through zombies and other creatures trying to make sense of what is happening.
The story progresses, you fight some sort of boss, a small twist or big cliffhanger and onto second part of the episode happening in the present with Barry and Natalie going through mostly the same area, learning what happened, fight or finish a boss and a big or twist-ish cliffhanger to end the episode. All of the four episodes follow the same structure with a "Next Time" and "Previously On" which like in most TV Shows nowadays are done in a clever way, a way that while doesn't give away too much for the next episode, gives just enough to get your blood pumping.
If you buy the box set edition meaning the physical copy of the game, you will get everything inside the package, the four main episodes, the two extra ones and the Raid mode. In between them, the Capcom guys have packed a massive amount of unlockables such as alternate costumes, figurines, gameplay modifiers and so on, for the most hardcore fans, so keep that in mind. Another "cool" thing about Resident Evil Revelations 2 is that the story can be played solo or in couch co-op. Now I used cool in quotes because in reality the co-op isn't that good or interesting and that has to do with the way the two player storytelling/mechanic works.
When you play solo, you can control both of the characters. But if you play with a friend, each one gets a character, here's where the problem arises. The player who controls Claire or Barry is fine, since they can shoot or bash the brains out of zombies, but the other players who's stuck with either Moira or Natalie can't do sh*t apart from shining a light or point a finger to spot hidden objects, that's all you can do with them and that sucks. So for the singleplayer you're better alone, in my opinion. The game plays like the old Resident Evil games, move, shoot, melee and dodge, everything is the same and easy to pick up. Sure there are some new borrowed ideas from other games like Alan Wake with the flashlight and The Last of Us with the limited crafting and "hear through walls" ability, but they don't really change or affect the experience that much.
The gunplay, to me, felt cheap and very unsatisfying. It feels like you are mostly shooting spitballs at the enemies and that looks and feels just wrong. I remember with fondness how fantastic the gunplay felt in Resident Evil 4, how the enemies reacted when you shot or meleed them. Well, that visceral satisfaction is nowhere to be found in Resident Evil Revelations 2. All of this somehow undermines the whole game, where most of it is spent shooting things. As for puzzles, there aren't any to speak of, it is mostly a linear game with small here and there deviations from the main path for secrets.
Now I believe it's time to talk about, what is my favorite thing present in the game, the Raid mode. I want to be honest by saying that I didn't really knew what it was about and I just didn't care, but for the sake of the review I had to try it. When I played it the first couple of times, it just didn't work and when it did 90% of the times it crashed mid game, so I was disappointed to say the least. But then days later, I got an email from Re.Net saying something along the lines of "hey come back, we fixed sh*t and now you can play online". I gave it a go and I played for 8 hours straight that day and I have gone back every day since to complete the daily challenges and events. So what is it all about and why is it worth?
Simply put you and another player, be that couch co-op or online friend, complete different missions and challenges unlocking new ones along with better gear, skills etc. But it's systems and mechanics go way deeper than this. First off, it feels like a totally separate game along with it's own storyline and mechanics. You assume the role of an AI fighting in a combat simulator as and such you can pretty much use anyone from the Resident Evil universe as your character, level him/her up, unlock new skills to use in combat, buy new weapons, buy new costumes and more. The missions apart from the ingame levels are also set in locations from other games in the series, including Tall Oaks and Edonia from Resident Evil 6, and fight monsters from other games, which makes up for some interesting gameplay sessions. Plus there are daily challenges with interesting modifiers and Event Community challenges where the collective power and effectiveness of all of the players it's put to test. It is fast, it is addictive and it is a very satisfying experience especially when playing with an online buddy, that will keep you hooked on for a long time.
In terms of presentation, the game is OK at best, granted I played and reviewed the PS3 version of the game, but from the videos I've seen for PS4 and PC, the quality is kinda the same. The character models most of the time look cool, detailed with great hair physics, but the environments interiors and exterior alike look bad, really bad at times, textures and lighting like it's a 2005 PS2 game. The same can be said about the zombies and creatures design, they look mostly generic and uninspired, but the bosses redeem that with disgustingly looks and freakishly animations that will definitely make you cringe. As for the frame rate, on the PS3 drops, a lot, and that is bad for a 2015 release, but maybe it runs great on PS4 and PC, I don't know!
Bottom Line: Resident Evil Revelations 2 is one of the coolest Resident Evil games ever. The episodic nature works really well and the double perspective storytelling is cool enough to keep you interested throught out the entire four episodes while the two extra ones do a great job to fill in the voids. Gunplay and presentation mostly suck, but the excellent Raid mode more than redeems these problems and will keep bringing you back for days. It's totally worth it, I think, and the fan service for the hardcore fans is just the cherry on top. Thanks for reading!