A revelation? Or a revision?

Resident Evil: Revelations 2

HIGH: Despite a slight redesign and new voice actress, Claire Redfield is finally back!

LOW: Doesn't really innovate nor add anything new to the universe.

WTF: "F***ing sh*t on a stick" isn't something a grown woman would shout during an SOS call for help.

Now that Resident Evil: Revelations 2 exists, Capcom seems intent on making it its own offshoot franchise. Unfortunately, apart from being released episodically, nothing especially interesting is happening with it—with a smaller budget and a tighter team than its triple-A big brothers, it seems like it missed an opportunity by going in the same old direction.

For example, Tomb Raider has its QTE-ridden, shooting people, triple-A check-the-boxes franchise title, yet it's also taken the time to produce two download-only light-combat isometric puzzle games that are heavy on the co-op. They're a total departure from the core game, yet they still feel familiar, interesting, and don't detract from the Tomb Raider universe.

Resident Evil also has its QTE-ridden, triple-A check-the-boxes, co-op, over-the-shoulder, shoot things games… And now it has a smaller, downloadable, co-op, over-the-shoulder, shoot things game as well. It's fine enough to play, but it doesn't offer anything someone can't get from the core series already.

Much like the last few Resident Evils, Revelations 2 has pairings of characters—Claire Redfield and Moira Burton; Barry Burton and Natalia. The whole game is playable alone (solo players can switch between characters) but friends can help out via splitscreen or online co-op.

As the story begins, returning series favorite Claire is now a veteran at a nonviolent bioterrorism company. With her is Moira, a wet-behind-the-ears employee starting her first day on the job. Shortly after they arrive, Special Forces rappel in and kidnap them. They wake up in a gross prison/hospital… somewhere… and begin their fight for survival.

Barry's chapter features him arriving on the island Claire and Moira are on, post-kidnapping, and he's following their trail with elementary school-aged Natalia by his side. She's a particularly mysterious girl because she ‘just happens' to show up right where Barry docks his boat, and insists he take her with him on his zombie-fighting adventures. Mechanically, she offers a few interesting Last Of Us-inspired things like the ability to crawl through small spaces, detecting enemies and throwing bricks at enemies.

Moira is this game's token annoying character because she overuses inappropriate language and doesn't react realistically to the kidnap scenario—for example, she's presented as a firecracker, yet she adamantly refuses to use guns despite being surrounded by lethal mutants. Meanwhile, Natalia shows up so abruptly in Barry's chapter, I almost thought he brought her with him. She's so calm about the monsters, so I'm banking on it foreshadowing some scene in the future about her life growing up with the mutants or something.

In general, the gameplay is much like in the previous few Resident Evils, although the game blatantly abandons all attempts to be scary when Claire finds a pistol and a shotgun less than 15 minutes after the start.

While the two teams cover some of the same ground in the levels, a welcome differentiation is that unique enemy classes populate each chapter. Claire and Moira fight Condemned-like infected creatures who tend to be agile and fight with melee weapons. A heavy who looks like a mix of Silent Hill's Pyramid Head and some steampunk plumbing tools pops up here and there, as well.

Barry's enemies are more zombie-like, and move slowly. The choice is strange because Barry has better weapons with more of an assault edge than Claire, yet he fights easier foes. That said, letting loose in these parts isn't entirely unwelcome because bullets are tightly rationed in Claire and Moira's chapter.

In addition to the campaign, Revelations also offers Raid Mode, its own brand of the ‘Mercenaries' content from earlier RE. It can also be played alone or via splitscreen/online co-op. Raid Mode is much deeper and more tactical than Mercenaries—each character has his or her own pros and cons, and can upgrade their abilities and stats. Capcom is also currently supporting this mode with challenge stages that update daily. Depending on a player's attitude toward arcade-style play, Raid Mode could be a significant value-add. Those who don't lean that way will likely spend an hour with it and be done.

Revelations 2 isn't bad by any means, but it's just kind of there in terms of gameplay. On the other hand, episodic titles usually lend themselves to interesting stories that keep a player coming back for the next episode. With no real gameplay innovations unique to the episodic format and the fact that Resident Evil's weakest quality has traditionally been its story, Revelations 2 is putting an awful lot of eggs in this samey-feeling basket. Rating: 7 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via downloadable purchase and was reviewed on the Playstation 4. Approximately 1 hour and 31 minutes of gameplay were devoted to the single-player campaign, and it was completed once. Approximately 2 hours of time was devoted to Raid Mode.

Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated Mature and contains: blood and gore, intense violence and strong language. This game is for appropriately mature audiences as it does features a plethora of gunfire and melee combat, blood, gore and strong language.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: Subtitles are available, but visual cues for enemies and threats don't exist. The experience might be more difficult or annoying for hard of hearing players because of this.

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