"Resident Evil: Revelations 2" has finally hit its third chapter, called “Judgment,” and it’s now starting to make a lot more sense. I was skeptical that the episodic format would cheapen the experience of "Resident Evil: Revelations 2," but three episodes in, I have to admit that I’m enjoying it. The pilot episode was oddly paced and a bit short, but successive episodes have grown longer and more involved.
As I’ve spent more time in the game, I’ve grown accustomed to the characters’ personalities -- I actually care about their development now. Except maybe Moira. Her rebellious attitude is contrived and forced -- she’s the kind of kid who started swearing just to make her dad mad. (Barry admits this assessment to be true, at least.) Her voice actress does a decent job (all of the voice acting is pretty good, actually), but much of the dialogue is campy and reeks of horror game cliches:
“I will bury them in a tower of despair and fear.” That’s an actual line that made it through scriptwriting and translation sessions.
But I suppose that’s part of the game’s charm, too -- "Resident Evil" has long been known for ridiculous dialogue. Other staple stupidities make appearances, too. For example, you still have to find keys for doors you could easily kick down and fences you could easily climb over.
This is also the point when I’ve spent enough time with the four playable characters to pass judgment on their abilities. Below they are ranked from most fun to play to least:
- Barry carries a real arsenal, and he has enough firepower to mow through just about everything he sees. He also has his own flashlight and is basically a one-man wrecking crew.
- Claire is decent with shotguns, and she has a mean roundhouse kick. Claire needs Moira for a light source, but she can still hold her own fairly well.
- Moira can’t shoot anyone, but she can blind enemies with a flashlight and smack them with a crowbar. She’s weak, but it’s kind of funny to take down bigger enemies with her. She is, however, nearly useless on her own.
- Natalia spends most of her time hiding behind Barry. Her only line of defense is picking up random bricks. She can warn Barry of upcoming and invisible enemies, which makes for a much better companion than a controlled character.
Despite this list, I do sort of enjoy playing as Moira. Not having a firearm completely changes the way you have to approach enemies, and if done right, Moira can kill incapacitated foes just as quickly as Claire. AI-controlled Claire can also shoot that the enemies that you illuminate with Moira’s flashlight, but more often than not, she just stands around, waiting until a zombie nearly kills you before discharging her weapon.
That’s especially frustrating if you’re using Moira when Claire is low on ammo, which will happen pretty often on any difficulty above "casual." Computer-controlled Claire doesn’t deplete your ammunition reserves, but her lack of intelligence is pretty much a death sentence anyway.
Honestly, the resource management is the reason I stepped down to "casual" after the end of episode 2. Micromanaging both ammo and healing items was a serious challenge (coupled with the whole not dying thing), and a barely sentient, poorly equipped partner led to frustratingly frequents deaths at the hands of stronger enemies.
Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the challenge, but the dim AI made even "normal" harder than it should be. "Survival" (read: hard) is basically hell. Episode 3 would take forever on harder difficulty settings, but even on "casual," it’s lengthy -- somewhere around three or four hours if you explore.
Still, I’m digging the experience so far. The "next time on 'Resident Evil'" teasers shown at the end of every episode give "Revelations 2" a sort of TV show vibe, which helps them feel like standalone episodes from a more traditional medium.
Hopefully, this paves the way for future episodic games to release every week, because Capcom’s got the right idea here -- namely, finish a game, dish out two to four hours of content per week to keep people interested for the next episode, continue until the entire season is done. None of this “wait two months between episodes” nonsense. I’m looking at you, Telltale.