Sometimes being a game reviewer isn’t all it seems. Yes, reviewing a game you are looking forward to playing is great (eg.Tacoma), and unearthing a real gem that you had no intention of playing is even better (eg.The Sexy Brutale). But then there are games like Resident Evil Revelations.
The Resident Evil series is well loved and respected, and the most recent game (Resident Evil 7) updated the genre for the current generation consoles and was arguably one of the best in the series. But I was confused, as I knew that Revelations 2 had already been released on Xbox One, so why was I being tasked to review its prequel? A quick Google search later and I found that Resident Evil Revelations is a remastering of a last generation remake of a game originally released on the 3DS in 2012. We are in the era of well-loved games being remade and re-released, which sometimes don’t happen in quite the right order! So, research completed, and my question is: How will this remastering stand up in 2017?
Resident Evil Revelations (now referred to as RER) is developed by Capcom and takes place between the events of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The story of the game follows series protagonists Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield as they try to stop a bioterrorist organisation from infecting the Earth’s oceans with a virus. The game mainly involves the player controlling Jill Valentine aboard a ghost ship in the Mediterranean Sea, but there are flashbacks and scenarios where you play as other supporting characters.
RER was originally designed to put emphasis on survival, evasion, and exploration ahead of fast-paced combat by providing the player with limited ammunition, health, and movement speed. It was designed to bring back the content and horror of the series’ roots, while at the same time trying to modernize the gameplay, in which lies my first and most critical complaint of the game. It’s great to put emphasis on evasion, but it doesn’t work when the control of the character is so sluggish. When you factor in the limited ammunition, which you will run out of on most boss encounters, it makes these encounters a hard slog, even when you’re playing on the easiest difficulty level. RER is a third person game which switchs into first person when aiming your weapon, this makes any encounter with more than one enemy extremely frustrating. One section, set as a flashback in a skyscraper, has you defending a foyer as you wait for a lift, against lizards (Hunters) who jump and attack in one movement from multiple directions. This is impossible to defend against or evade when the movement of your character, including weapon aiming, is just so slow! Especially when there are up to five enemies in that small space.
RER has two different gameplay modes: Campaign and Raid. Campaign is your standard singleplayer story, whilst Raid is where one or two players can fight their way through a selection of altered scenarios from Campaign mode. These will reward you with experience and battle points that can be exchanged for various weapons and items at a store. Gaining experience and acquiring new equipment allows progress to higher and more challenging scenarios.
There are twelve chapters in the campaign of RER, and I have to admit by chapter four I had played enough. Even though I was enjoying the story I was hating the controls and how sluggish they were. But it wasn’t all bad. There was a moment early on in RER with a human character who is slowly being overcome by the virus, so she still possessed human characteristics as she taunted and stalked your character. This section did unnerve me with its excellent sound design and feelings of claustrophobia.
But wait, as I mentioned in my opening, being a reviewer isn’t all it seems. I was so close to giving up on RER, but I don’t believe it’s fair to write a review based on such a small amount of game time, so I persevered and I started to enjoy this game. I got used to the clunky controls. I realised that each enemy had a weak point and I began to defeat them quicker. I realised that the Genesis device you are equipped with could be used to find extra hidden ammo as well as scanning enemies. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a great game, but it does have a good story and it mixes up the gameplay over the course of the twelve chapters to avoid making it a slog.
Graphically, the cutscenes really show the remastering process and are very pretty, and with most games of this ilk a lot of care and attention has been given to the female form, both in the cutscenes and in gameplay. If only the basic enemies had been given the same attention. Some of the base level enemies are just boring, and you don’t face them in combat with any feeling of dread, just annoyance. In fact, I would go as far as to say I am quite easily unnerved by horror games, and apart from the early encounter I previously mentioned, RER didn’t scare me at all.
Occasionally, you will have to defeat an end of level boss, some of which are fun to go up against, particularly where it takes you into different scenarios, such as on a mounted minigun in a helicopter. Others are dull and frustrating, and frequently lead to your character running out of ammo and resorting to melee attacks on huge monsters. RER also has missions which requires swimming and diving and these are also great ways to break up the standard gameplay, and these are designed well enough to make you feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable.
Story-wise, RER is extremely entertaining, even for someone like me who isn’t familiar with the events leading up to this game. Obviously I was familiar with the likes of Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, but was obliviously unaware of the range of supporting characters and the agencies of which they belong to, such as the FBC and BSAA. It moves along at a good pace and swaps between characters and locations to prevent things from becoming dull and boring.
Overall, Resident Evil Revelations is an OK game. Fans of the series will probably love it, but the clunky, sluggish controls let it down. This is most demonstrated in the final boss fight, where, although the enemy attacks are telegraphed, the strike area is just too large and it’s impossible to get out of the way in time, which is hugely frustrating. Introducing a roll mechanic for these encounters would increase enjoyment (and my score)!
Despite being panned by critics when it was originally released, Resident Evil 6 has been given the re-release treatment and has been enhanced for the Xbox One, featuring all previous DLC, a higher resolution and framerate, as well as a few additional tweaks. But can a game that was so strongly disliked claw back some goodwill from series fans with its slight upgrade?
It can, and indeed it should, Resident Evil 6 was unfairly panned back in 2012, and now, with its few enhancements and being so feature rich, it offers an even more attractive game for a reasonable price to those previous put off.
Resident Evil 6 is built around three different styles with its multiple campaigns. Leon’s campaign is more traditional, with a slower pace, eerier locations, and dealing with good old fashioned zombies and mutated creatures. Chris’ is action-based and deals with the parasites of Resident Evil 4 and 5. And Jake’s is more akin to Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, with frequent chases, a slower pace, and seemingly insurmountable odds. These three campaigns offer something for every player archetype from the Resident Evil spectrum, and with each campaign taking a good 5-7 hours to complete, you get a lot of content for your money. This does mean, however, that the tone is a bit schizophrenic. With each campaign contributing to an overall story, the different paces and experiences don’t meld as seamlessly as it would with an otherwise consistent setup.
Helping to better bridge the three main campaigns is the bonus Ada Wong adventure, which is significantly shorter than the other campaigns and largely visits crossover sections between them, but it ties everything together and fills in the majority of the plot holes. This campaign was a solo affair originally but now joins the ranks of the other campaigns with a coop option, where player 2 jumps in the boots of Agent, a generic soldier. Unfortunately it’s not the best implemented second player experience. In many ways it feels like Tails from Sonic 2, where the second player is largely irrelevant to the experience. You can’t interact with puzzles or the environment beyond the enemies, which is a disappointing and a dissatisfying experience.
The coop for the main campaigns remains the same as it did back in 2012, reducing the difficulty slightly despite some mild scaling. It’s also a great deal more entertaining playing alongside someone else. The convoluted and cheesy story is particularly difficult to swallow, but bringing another friend along helps a great deal. And indeed the story is the weakest part of Resident Evil 6, falling on clichés and suffering from poor writing. However, the ambition behind it is undeniable impressive.
The aforementioned multiple campaigns and dozens of hours of story is of impressive scale. The poor storytelling and attempt to try and please everyone threatens to undo the good but the grand plan behind it has a vestige of good intensions. The corny narrative will still appeal to die-hard Resident Evil fans, and seeing the large cast come together, many of which returning from previous titles, helps answer a few questions about what happened between those titles. And despite how well or badly you get on with the story, there’s still a great deal of fun to be had. The combat is satisfying and intense, the melee option allows you to punch and kick your way out of a pinch effectively as well as perform some excellent special attacks, and the highly detailed locations are interesting to explore with great variation. In fact, if you can stomach the inconsistent experience of the multiple campaigns the variety it offers proves a welcome change.
Unfortunately there are some fundamental problems that have crept in to this enhanced version. The quick time events still come out of nowhere, although they seem slightly more forgiving with the input timing as well as the checkpoint placement if you fail. The physics and collision detection is also fairly inconsistent and poor, making picking up items occasionally difficulty, or melee attacks completely miss their target. There are also a handful of badly designed sections in each campaign, whether it’s a chase sequence that is too punishing, or where the two characters are separated and overwhelmed with enemies, or where the environment collapses at too quick of a pace. These issues are still highly frustrating and typically crop up when checkpoints have been less generous.
Outside of the campaigns is a plethora of online, solo and coop modes, many of which were added to the based game as DLC back in 2012. These offer you the classic Mercenary modes, where you take on waves of enemies against the clock, as well as several other modes, such as playing as the Nemesis-type creature from Jake’s campaign, Ustanak, and taking on groups of players. Furthermore, the online crossover and enemy encounter feature returns, allowing you to team up with other players in the main campaign during sections that crossover, and allowing players to invade other people’s games as a monster. It’s certainly a neat way to interact with the campaign, however, it can affect the stability of your online coop session.
Resident Evil 6 is a blast when played cooperatively, and if you’re a fan of the on-going story and the characters involved it can prove just as much fun played solo. There are certainly issues with it, technical ones such as the collision detections and level design, and narrative problems, but if you avoided it originally because you just weren’t sure it was worth the asking price, for £15.99 you can now own the definitive edition.
The Resident Evil series’ evolution towards action hasn’t gone down well with long-time fans who enjoyed the much slower pace and scarier atmosphere of the original titles. Fortunately, however, the Nintendo Gamecube gave rise to the reincarnation of that original design philosophy, as well as the re-emergence of the original Resident Evil, complete with fancy new visuals. Further still, the success of that remake gave birth to a prequel of similar design, Resident Evil Zero, and much like the series titular original Gamecube remake, Zero has also received the HD treatment to resurface all these years later on the Xbox One. And once again, just like Resident Evil HD, Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster is fantastic.
Resident Evil Zero, like its HD remake predecessor, has its sights firmly on fans of the early Resident Evil titles. This is a puzzle game foremost, one with a superbly creepy atmosphere and oodles of backtracking. As such its slow pace and often illogical puzzle sequences aren’t going to appeal to the wider audience. However, this is what series fans fell in love with back in the days of yore, and Zero’s return to that kind of Resident Evil experience is wonderfully in sync with the original. It is, however, not scary in the slightest, the monsters look gruesome and are dangerous enough to send you to a game over screen swiftly; meanwhile the fixed camera angles make moving around the gothic architecture all the more tense, but it lacks that scare factor of the more successful modern horror titles such as Outcast and Alien Isolation.
Instead Resident Evil Zero is creepy and intriguing, which is particularly well suited to puzzle solving. Enemies are more a puzzle to figure out than a terrifying presence, and juggling inventory management, ammo conservation, and actually figuring out the puzzles to make progress is interesting and rewarding. In fact Zero’s companion system and item management is significantly improved over the previous title, and arguably better than any in the series. Items can now be put down, wherever, allowing you to pick up what you need currently and temporarily discard anything else without having to hunt down a box to put them in. It makes inventory management far less frustrating, and yet your inventory is small enough still to keep managing it a challenge.
Resident Evil Zero also introduces a permanent companion, with convict Billy joining protagonist S.T.A.R.S rookie Rebecca throughout the adventure. This allows for inventory sharing and new two-person puzzles which all works extremely well without compromising the eerie, solitary experience. This is achieved by often having the two separated by a locked lock or other obstacle, meaning each need to perform their own independent searches and actions to aid the other who is just out of reach. It’s a great way to make the predictable Resident Evil puzzles fresh again, and thanks to a practically instant switch between the characters at the press of a button, it controls and performs smoothly.
There is, however, a pretty significant barrier to the enjoyment Resident Evil Zero ultimately provides: the storytelling and dialogue are appalling. Of course, Resident Evil aficionados know what to expect, especially of an older title like this, but even fans are likely to find their nostalgia damaged slightly on hearing the first few line of dialogue and the first hour or so of story. It’s badly written and poorly setup, however, there’s still that spark of corny, B-movie charm that does enough to keep you playing until the end.
Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster has been enhanced with a new control system that feels far more responsive than the original system, and makes movement and combat very intuitive and flowing. However, for diehard fans of the original system you can opt for that in the options. The same goes for the aspect ratio, which can be played widescreen or the original 4:3. Audio and visual enhancements are much in line with the HD remastering of the previous title, with the textures seeing an upgrade and the harder edges smoothed out, with the stand out improvement being the lighting, which looks spectacular. Monsters also steal the show, looking wonderfully gruesome.
Indeed, Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster improves on a classic in precisely the right way to make it feel at home on the Xbox One. They simply don’t make horror titles like this anymore, largely because they aren’t scary in this form, but they still hold the ability to entertain with their puzzles and fascinatingly mutated monsters. It take a bit of perseverance in the beginning to get over the terrible voice acting and the lines they spit out, and the story isn’t great on its own merit, however, as part of the larger Resident Evil narrative it’s an important chapter that’s highly enjoyable to play.
After four weeks of action horror, Resident Evil Revelations 2 has come to its conclusion, and Episode 4: Metamorphosis continues to deliver on the same strengths as the three that came before, leaving you with one of two endings that serve to conclude this adventure nicely and hint at more Resident Evil down the line.
Claire and Moira’s chapter is heavy on the exposition, fast paced and intense. The pair finally confront Alex Wesker, trigger the Resident Evil staple of a self-destruct system and then frantically escape the tower they infiltrated. The clean steel and glass of the advanced tech lab and surveillance room Alex Wesker resides in is a nice contrast between the dilapidated prison, village, sewers and buildings that came before. And the rush to escape the ticking timer of the self-destruct plays nicely into the odd enemy encounter as Claire and Moira try to escape. It’s over very quickly, but its final moments are surprising, despite heavy telegraphing over the course of the adventure.
Meanwhile, Barry and Natalia’s chapter is lengthier and structured more like you’d expect, with dashes of combat, exploration and puzzles. Well-designed environmental puzzles and a section that references the original Resident Evil heavily in its aesthetic, adds variety to the experience and keeps the pace steady. A stand-out combat section truly tests your resource management, meanwhile, the final boss is a little underwhelming, never posing much of a threat and falling back on the tried and tested Resident Evil trope of a telegraphed weak spot.
However, there are two endings to enjoy, dictated by a choice you make in Claire and Moira’s chapter in Episode 3. Interestingly it’s the so-called ‘bad’ ending that injects the storytelling with more depth and wisdom, but the ‘good’ ending certainly rounds off this particular story better.
Indeed Metamorphosis provides a good ending to an excellent episodic experiment. The two different endings weren’t hinted at well enough, which can lead to a little frustration if you’re not satisfied with the one you get. The fact a single choice dictates which ending you get, and that it’s not in this particular chapter is also a nuisance, but it doesn’t distract from the overall quality of the experience. Episode 4 also adds more variety with its locations and although no new enemies are present – beyond the boss – and the combat situations are predictable, they still feel intense thanks to clever resource distribution.
Two further episodes have also been released alongside Episode 4: The Struggle and Little Miss. Each offer a unique experience over the campaign episodes. Moira’s The Struggle has you hunt for food and scrounge for ammo and herbs before lengthy combat scenarios against dozens of foes. Meanwhile, Natalia’s Little Miss has you sneak around the infected looking for your lost teddy bear. They add a lot of characterisation to both secondary characters and fill in some pretty important gaps in the overall narrative. It’s unfortunate that The Struggle compromises the ‘bad ending’ a little bit, and selling them as separate episodes is also a bit difficult to swallow, but they’re certainly great editions to the overall package.
Episode 4 does a good job smoothing over those cracks Episode 3 was beginning to show, environments are more varied, the puzzles remained interesting and the combat remained intense with barely enough ammo to survive it. The tone shifts to something more serious but it feels appropriate to how it all concludes. Overall, Episode 4 achieves the same high quality of its predecessors.
As a complete package, Resident Evil Revelations 2 does a lot right to keep the franchise alive and fresh. The action-horror style of play is pretty cemented in the series now, but Revelations 2’s thoughtful resource management makes it feel a little more desperate and intense, recapturing at least some of the original survival horror theme. Meanwhile, the script and voice work is noticeably better than the previous titles, with better localisation and hitting a better, self-referential tone overall. And although this story isn’t as involved or grand as many of the numbered titles, it’s an intriguing story that fits nicely into the pre-existing lore and potentially sets up an interesting future title. Additionally, releasing it episodically was a terrific idea, keeping individual play sessions to only a few hours helps keep the experience fresher for longer.
It’s not going to attract a new audience but long-time Resident Evil fans are likely to feel reinvigorated and hopeful about the future of the series. It’s been gradual, but Capcom appear to be steering the series towards a healthier future, and it’s exciting to imagine what could be in store next time on Resident Evil.
Thanks to Capcom for supplying TiX with a download code
After an excellent start last week with episode one, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is back again with new locations, enemies, raid characters and experiences, with episode two: Contemplation. And wonderfully it maintains the high standard of its first outing, upping the ante effectively to immerse you further in the story of the mysterious island Claire Redfield, Moira Burton and the rest of the Terra Save abductees are stranded on.
Contemplation wastes no time kicking off its adventure. There’s no walking from where the last episode left off, instead, after a recap and a new cut scene to introduce the current situation, the narrative receives an injection of urgency as Claire and Moira are immediately thrown into exploring a new location and fighting off the enemy hordes.
Three new characters are immediately introduced that add weight and stakes to the narrative, with all three being Terra Save colleges also captured like Claire and Moira. The increased cast adds a different feel and tempo to the proceedings, meanwhile the new locations are different enough from the prison of episode one to feel like you’ve made progress and have something new to see and discover.
The action is more intense this time around and with items carrying over from episode one, you’ll be more ravenously scavenging for herbs and ammo to help aid you against the aggressive enemies you quickly find yourself engaging. It’s brilliantly intense and desperate, and while death may be more frequent as a result, smart checkpoints and fast loading makes restarting feel like less of a punishment. Two new weapons – a new shotgun and SMG – Can also be found. However, two new enemies – boss-esque encounters – can frustrate, especially with the Resident Evil trait of another character potentially coming to the rescue, posing a question as to whether or not you should be expending all your hard-earned ammo.
Barry and Natalia’s chapter is equally desperate as you scrounge for ammo and continue to follow in Claire and Moira’s footsteps looking for answers. A new sniper rifle can be found and put to use, additionally a new invisible group of enemies make an appearance – so to speak – which Natalia can see but Barry cannot. It makes for some interesting encounters, as a haze compromising Barry’s vision denotes the enemy’s presence and Natalia’s pointing and aiming advice are all you have to go on in felling this new foe. It’s clever and intense without being overplayed.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 – Episode two: Contemplation is a smart second outing for Capcom’s survival horror. The story maintains a brisk pace and continues to intrigue, meanwhile the new weapons, characters and enemies all help to make the experience feel fresh yet consistent with the overall tone established in episode one. Most surprisingly is how well the script and voice acting is holding up, feeling far less cheesy and with much better localisation than many titles from the series’ past. Moreover, this episodic release schedule seems to be working in the title’s favour, preventing boredom from creeping in and keeping the experience fresher for longer.
Thanks to Capcom for supplying TiX with a download code
Join This is Xbox Video Editor, Greg Giddens, as he play through Penal Colony, the first episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2. Playing as both pairs of characters, Greg experiences a little fear, frustration, foul language, and a few laughs during his play-through of the latest Resident Evil adventure.
Despite mounting evidence that only Telltale Games can pull of episodic releases, Capcom are giving the format a try with Resident Evil Revelations 2 and thanks to a tight and fast release schedule and cliff-hanger storytelling, this just might work, especially considering how terrify this first episode is.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 so far shows no ties to its spin-off predecessor, feeling like a self-contained title. The focus is on Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica fame, and Moira Burton, as they and their colleagues from bio-terrorism prevention organisation, Terra Save, are kidnapped and placed on a mysterious prison island. After waking in a cell on the penal colony, Claire and Moira team up to escape and survive the zombie-esque monstrosities that hunger for their flesh. Meanwhile, the pair are being watched and taunted by an unseen woman, communicating with them via devices attached to their wrists.
It’s an intriguing location and scenario to explore. Documents strewn across the prison hint at experimentation and the Uraboros parasite, tying it in with the larger Resident Evil universe nicely, and the location offers a pleasantly different environment to explore. Additionally, the story-telling is well paced and constructed to fit the episodic structure brilliantly, offering you an hour’s worth of tense combat and exploration with a sprinkling of story beats. The original Resident Evil’s Barry Burton and a mysterious little girl, Natalia, found on the island, then offers up another hour of the same but with a significantly different personality and perspective as he aggressively searches for Claire and his daughter 6 months after they went missing.
Most strikingly is how different each character is to play as, and how different the challenges are for them to overcome. Claire’s and Moira’s adventure is more desperate as they struggle with limited ammo and weapons, meanwhile, Barry and Natalia have a more powerful arsenal but more aggressive, stronger, and numerous enemies. Additionally the teamwork between the two pairs is very different. Moira aids Claire by holding the flashlight and wielding a crowbar for opening certain doors and crates, as well as caving in enemy skulls. Natalia on the other hand uses bricks and is far less involved with combat but can squeeze through small gaps to open doors and solve puzzles as well as being able to use an ability to see enemies through walls. It’s a wonderfully different experience for each pair, even though you explore large sections of the same area.
When playing solo you can, and occasionally must, switch between the two characters to solve puzzles and help with combat. The AI, however, has a tendency to be ineffective in a fight, bringing another player along instead is much preferred, which you can do with local coop. Certainly Moira and Natalia feel far less involved and effective than Claire and Barry, neither using projectile weapons, but the more passive play-style is a refreshing role to fulfil.
Wonderfully the very best enhancements to the Resident Evil formula are present here as well as a few new ones. You can move and shoot, dodge incoming attacks, use analogue movement between walking and running as well as another button for sprint, you have full control of the camera, and best of all you can use herbs on the move outside of the inventory screen. Add to that herbs stacking as single items and the combination of herbs adding numbers to the stack rather than creating different level of healing, and it all comes together to offer some of the best mechanics yet seen in the series.
There’s plenty more than just the story to keep you playing this first episode. A time trail mode unlocks which challenges you to complete the episode below par, meanwhile, another mode makes all the enemies invisible and challenges you to complete it. Finally there’s the Raid mode, a returning feature from the first Revelations which pits you against waves of enemies in a selection of different locations, including some from Resident Evil 6. New weapons and upgrades can be found, as well as enhanced ammo and enemy types to make encounters more interesting. There are also time trails and restricted ammo challenges on offer, and all of these can be enjoyed with a friend in local coop.
Resident Evil Revelations 2 makes a great first impression. Series fans will get a kick out of the returning characters, self-aware referential humour and continuation of the absurd Resident Evil lore, meanwhile, the fast paced storytelling, refreshing location and character variety, as well as the expertly implemented controls and mechanics, work in everyone’s favour. Role on next week and episode 2.
Thanks to Capcom for supplying TiX with a download code