Why Revelations 2 is the Best Resident Evil in Over a Decade
Editors Note: Check out our official review for another opinion.
When Resident Evil: Revelations came out for the 3DS in 2012 and for the PC and home consoles a year later, it received a fair amount of credit for supposedly bringing the series back to its roots.
I did not see it, though. Sure, the Queen Zenobia looked a bit like the Spencer Mansion from the inside, but aside from superficial similarities, "Revelations" was basically Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 all over again: a third-person shooter with terrible storytelling and irritating characters.
There were a lot of other problems with the game in addition to that. Discussing them all would be impossible. However, it's worth mentioning that Resident Evil: Revelations is without a doubt my least favorite game in the series. Naturally, I was not looking forward to the sequel much. But to my pleasant surprise, the game is, simply put, great.
Good writing goes a long way
On the surface, the latest entry may appear to be just another third-person shooter, continuing the series' trend towards action. In actuality, though, it's much more than that and in fact even convention-breaking. Revelations 2 is the first ever Resident Evil with genuinely good writing and character development. It knows its audience, how to subvert expectations and how to properly build up reveals that come as a surprise at first, but feel natural in hindsight. Of course the game has its fair share of corny one-liners and cringe-inducing dialog. But whereas in the past these elements were the result of a lack of trying on the writers' part, this time, they are much more deliberate. Barry's face-palm-worthy comments for example stick out, because they merely serve to make fans feel at home in a story that's otherwise very different in that it's competently told and emotionally impactful.
"Revelations 2" is the first ever Resident Evil with genuinely good writing and character development.
For the first time in a Resident Evil game you really feel with the characters. You get to know them, how they think, what they've been through and how it affects them on their current "adventure", if you can call it that. Revelations 2 throws mutated corpses and mad scientists at you, sure. But at its core, it tells a heartfelt story about a father and a daughter, that certainly takes cues from The last of Us, but feels unique and worthwhile regardless.
Building on the first game's weaknesses
I wouldn't sing the game's praise if a good narrative was all it had to offer. Even in terms of gameplay, Revelations 2 topples its predecessor by leagues. One of its biggest strengths is pacing. The game knows when to let the player breathe and how to slowly and steadily build up atmosphere and expectations until it all explodes in a noisy and messy battle. Slower passages are complemented well with insight into the personalities and pasts of characters and even with the occasional puzzle. Upgrading weapons is just as satisfying as it was before, but this time around, there are unlockable skills and perks to motivate players even further. Scanning for items was improved as well. It feels more like an optional way to enhance the player's experience, if he so desires, rather than a mandatory, forced element. Where the gameplay of Revelations 2 really shines, however, is in its clever coop design. The different characters play uniquely from one another and rely upon each other's strengths in order to overcome the obstacles in front of them. This works extremely well, whether you're playing with a friend or just switching between characters yourself.
A good template for the future
In its design, Resident Evil: Revelations 2 isn't necessarily more reminiscent of the series' roots than its predecessor was, which is how I started off this article. It is however, a far superior game and in my opinion the best Resident Evil since the 2002 remake of the original. It is obvious that Capcom doesn't want to replicate the more Metroid-esque gameplay from the 90's and early 2000's, but if they can keep up the level of quality that they just put out going forward, I don't mind that at all. It's almost a shame that the game isn't called "Resident Evil 7", because it definitely would have deserved that title.
But what do you think? Was it good for you, too?