Res­i­dent Evil: Rev­e­la­tions 2

Re­cur­ring episodes for gaming’s vir­u­lent strain of hor­ror


360, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One

Since the main­line Res­i­dent Evil se­ries ap­pears locked in a feed­back loop of es­ca­lat­ing bom­bast with the Paul WS An­der­son movies, it falls to the Rev­e­la­tions spinoffs to main­tain its sur­vival-hor­ror roots. True to form, ammo is in short sup­ply through­out, and you’ll also en­counter a num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal puz­zles along the way. But de­fy­ing hor­ror con­ven­tions, you won’t be en­tirely alone. While you’ll start off as Claire Red­field, Moira Bur­ton (daugh­ter of STARS mem­ber Barry Bur­ton) ac­com­pa­nies you through­out, and a sin­gle but­ton tap switches con­trol be­tween the two.

The pair now work for anti-bioter­ror­ism or­gan­i­sa­tion Terra Save, but dur­ing Moira’s wel­come party both are knocked un­con­scious when the build­ing is stormed by uniden­ti­fied armed forces, and awake in an aban­doned, di­lap­i­dated and very grey prison. After we res­cue a pan­icked Moira from her cell, we learn that the pair have dif­fer­ent skillsets.

In a setup that goes one step fur­ther than Doom 3’ s in­fa­mous torch-or-gun choice, Rev­e­la­tions 2 in­sists that the tools are so mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive they must be wielded by sep­a­rate char­ac­ters en­tirely. Claire’s the weapons ex­pert, han­dling gun du­ties and also ca­pa­ble of do­ing some se­ri­ous dam­age with her melee at­tack. Moira, mean­while, has a patho­log­i­cal fear of wield­ing guns and in­stead sticks to the torch and a crow­bar.

Her beam of light serves two pur­poses, al­low­ing you to dis­cover use­ful items such as ammo and herbs by high­light­ing them with a twin­kle of light, and daz­zling en­e­mies at close range. This tem­po­rary blind­ing lasts a cou­ple of seconds and proves a use­ful crowd-con­trol tech­nique if used well, al­low­ing Moira to get in a pan­icked crow­bar whack, or Claire to more eas­ily line up a head­shot.

When you switch char­ac­ters, the game’s AI takes over con­trol of your part­ner, who is then ren­dered in­vin­ci­ble. A brief hands-on does lit­tle to al­lay fears of how well this will be bal­anced, but deal­ing with three or four en­e­mies feels chal­leng­ing enough, even with in­vul­ner­a­ble backup.

Much of that chal­lenge is down to Rev­e­la­tions’ new en­emy type, the Af­flicted. Faster and more in­tel­li­gent than a sham­bling zom­bie, they’ll quickly sur­round you, can use blunt-force weapons, will climb lad­ders to give chase, and can leap across gaps to reach you. They’re beefier than their de­com­posed cousins, too, and tend to take two or three head­shots to put down. The abil­ity to dodge out of the way in any di­rec­tion gives you more op­tions dur­ing en­coun­ters, and a shot­gun we find later on deals some one-shot kills, but deal­ing with groups of the Af­flicted re­mains a fraught ex­pe­ri­ence. That dodge move be­comes es­sen­tial later, when a colos­sal boss wield­ing a cob­bled-to­gether axe-cum-cleaver at­tacks us while we wait for a cog mech­a­nism we’ve just re­built to open a door. Rather than at­tempt to take him down, or the other Af­flicted who flank him, we spend a cou­ple of min­utes on the run be­fore dash­ing to tem­po­rary safety. For a game that Cap­com is po­si­tion­ing as a more tra­di­tional Res­i­dent Evil ex­pe­ri­ence, there’s a fair amount of fresh me­chan­i­cal think­ing on show. The big­gest change of all, how­ever, is in dis­tri­bu­tion: the game will be de­liv­ered episod­i­cally in weekly in­stal­ments, with a disc re­lease of the full pack­age after the fi­nale. But de­spite the new ideas, the game al­ready feels dated. Pon­der­ous con­trols and muddy vi­su­als call to mind the neg­a­tive as­pects of the era that Cap­com is try­ing to cel­e­brate. And surely by now only su­per-fans still care about the fate of Claire Red­field, es­pe­cially when the di­a­logue’s this clunky.

But more wor­ry­ing is the fact that the fa­mil­iar­ity of Rev­e­la­tions 2 un­der­mines its at­tempts to scare, the main source of dread be­ing the thought of deal­ing with en­e­mies with a dwin­dling ammo cache. With so many stu­dios work­ing to find new ways to un­nerve, this se­ries’ rel­e­vance to the mod­ern hor­ror fan is in­creas­ingly ques­tion­able.

Women’s world

The Res­i­dent Evil se­ries has had plenty of fe­male char­ac­ters through­out its his­tory, but Rev­e­la­tions 2 is the first en­try to have two fe­male leads. Both are equally im­por­tant to the story, and both freely playable, but Red­field is clearly de­fined as the pro­tag­o­nist thanks to her more ca­pa­ble skillset, while Bur­ton plays more of a support role by lo­cat­ing pick­ups and dis­patch­ing downed en­e­mies with her crow­bar. And while Red­field re­mains cool­headed in the face of waves of mu­tated en­e­mies, Bur­ton is audi­bly afraid and less ac­cept­ing of their predica­ment, set­ting up a po­ten­tially en­gag­ing dy­namic be­tween the pair.

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