I’ll answer the question on everyone’s mind right away: yes, they spelled the game’s name correctly on the box this time. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is the latest in Capcom’s undying series of zombie-’em-ups, a series that’s varied so drastically in quality for years now. Originally an episodic series sold à la carte, Capcom saw fit to stitch everything together into one complete package. So the question remains: is Revelations 2 a return to form for Resident Evil and survival horror? Well…nope. Read on, though.
Revelations 2 stars series favorites Claire Redfield and Barry Burton as they explore a deserted island filled with horrific mutated monsters. The island might also have mysterious secrets! Further, it might also have doors locked with dumb keys, as well as things like a fire-breathing statue! Yeah, so that’s about on par for the series, in other words, and it doesn’t really shake up the ol’ plot formula at all. In fact, there’s very few surprises in terms of the plot or gameplay, aside from a couple we’re about to look at. It’s the same Resident Evil we’ve had since…let’s say RE5, since that’s where the co-op-at-all-times thing first came into play.
Is it scary? Of course not. You’ve got plenty of guns and ammo is in fairly decent supply, same as it’s been since RE4. Those guns are all upgradeable, of course, and it doesn’t take long before you’re locked and loaded pretty much all the time. Zombies should be terrified of you, not the other way around. No surprises there.
What Revelations 2 does shake up is the game’s business model. You might have heard about how this is an episodic game; it is, in fact, and that’s as questionable of a proposition for the consumer as it’s always been. You can buy the game as a whole and you probably should if you’re dead set on playing it, though once you do there’s still plenty of cosmetic DLC to nickel-and-dime you out of all your loot. Why Capcom chose to go this direction is absolutely beyond me, but there you have it. Pay your $25 for the Digital Complete Collection, appreciate the fact that it’s the price you should be paying for new games these days instead of $60, and go on your zombie-shooting way.
Revelations 2 follows the two-character theme that’s been present in all the Resident Evil titles since RE5, for better or worse. The formula is shaken up a little bit through the characters having different abilities. One character is the “main” character, while the other is the “support” character, incapable of using firearms and relegated largely to pointing out goodies or blinding enemies with flashlights, slipping through small holes to open doors and so on. In co-op mode, this means that one player is going to have to control the support character du jour. This largely means playing a more vulnerable character whose main role is to point out goodies for the actual hero to grab, though they’ve also got a minimal degree of combat ability for self-defense.
Of course, that doesn’t really matter; for some bizarre reason, Revelations 2 doesn’t include online co-op. Instead, it’s local-only with a split-screen option available. While a recent patch has added online co-op for Raid Mode, that doesn’t do much to make up for this glaring flaw. Local-only multiplayer is a bad decision for indie games, though they might some scrap of an excuse by claiming a lack of funds for implementing online play; here, it’s just a bad decision through and through, and this missing feature reflects poorly on the rest of the game as a whole. This means that you’re going to be going through the campaign solo, most likely, and you’ll be spending a fair chunk of the game switching between the main and support characters as needed.
There’s one exception to this, though, and that’s if you’re playing on the PlayStation 4 as the console’s unique Share Play capabilities allow you to play some bizarre Frankenstein version of online co-op by emulating local play. In other words, you’ll be playing split-screen online. Yes, it’s dumb, and the obvious omission of online co-op is even further compounded by the fact that the game actually works pretty well this way. The other player doesn’t have any problem getting things done, within the context of being a support character of course. There’s no reason it couldn’t have worked, in other words, but it’s not there.
Still, it’s not all bad. The aforementioned Raid Mode returns from the original Revelations and it remains the highlight of the title. Raid Mode is a sort of dungeon-crawler-meets-Resident-Evil setup where you have to level your character, equip skills and find new weapons to help you get through the stages. It’s actually a pretty interesting way of handling the survival horror theme. If you’re going to pay your $25 for Revelations 2, you’ll be doing it for Raid Mode, and it’ll be entirely worth it. The fact that it actually has online cooperative play now without the use of Share Play helps. Who would have thought?
So if you’ve got a friend to play Raid Mode with, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is actually a worthwhile purchase. If you’re heavily invested in the series’ plot, uh, go with God I suppose. And if you want a horror game, grab a Slenderman clone or wait for Silent Hills to come out, because Resident Evil hasn’t been a horror series since RE4. I can recommend Resident Evil: Revelations 2 for the Raid Mode…but just barely.