Resident Evil: Revelations 2, Episodic scares put horror icon back on track… mostly

Hey there, Mr Burton. It’s been too long. While I’ve got you, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. Barry, this is Joel. Joel, say hi to rebooted Bazza 2.0. He’s shed some serious lbs, right? Now off you two trot to discuss the finer points of garotting the undead while I prattle on about how much Revelations 2 wants to be The Last Of Us.

In terms of pacing, its buddy character setup and other mechanics, Capcom has crafted a horror/action hybrid with a smouldering crush on Naughty Dog’s doomsday classic. Hey, if you’re going to aim big, shoot for the stars… or, in this case, at least try to kneecap the moon.

Let me say this early doors: I heart Resident Evil Revelations 2. Whether intentionally or not, Capcom has stumbled upon an intoxicating formula (literally, there are nefarious viruses wherever you look) in this fairly focused compromise of old and new school horror.

Try to think of Revelations as a sort of Frankenstein’s monster. There are bits of Resi 6, the PS1 games and the aforementioned The Last Of Us here, all peeking out between the botched stitches and head bolts. Taking a cue from Leon, Chris and Jake Muller’s bloated undead three-way, you’ll find guns and ammo aplenty, an athletic evade manoeuvre on - O - and loads of ‘kind of a zombie, but not really a zombie’ critters to down.

Light puzzling also harks back to ye olden days of mixing V-JOLT to shrivel up Plant 42. The conundrums contained in the game’s four episodes (each lasting around two hours) aren’t as taxing as those in the recent REmake, granted. But the noodle scratchers that remain say, figuring out how to restore power to a construction yard by tracking twisting cables still offer a pleasing palate cleanser to all that undead action. The big puzzle is how to play it…

So, the game is available in one of three ways. Your choices: buy each individual episode for £4.99; sample the whole season with the £19.99 online pass; or decide, “interwebs be damned!” by going for the as-good-as identical £29 boxed product. Pro tip: plump for the 20 quid season pass. All four chapters are worth playing, forming the most cohesive Resi since Leon went medieval on Las Plagas.

Barry The Hatchet
Capcom also enables you to whack through the whole thing in drop-in/drop-out co-op.  You can either enjoy this online or via split-screen. Playing on your tod? Then the AI controls your on-screen partner and a tap of  - Triangle - swiftly switches stars.

Revelations actually blossoms in co-op, with each zomb-hater’s contrasting abilities complementing their partner in thoughtful fashion. Split 50/50 between two unlikely tag teams, the action occasionally mimics Joel and Ellie’s Clicker-baiting teamwork. When playing as returning Resi 2 fave Claire and her partner Moira Burton (daughter of the B-man), Redfield does all the shooting while the latter stuns monsters and highlights valuable hidden items with her flashlight.

Child’s Play
Things work a mite differently with Big Boy Barry and the obligatory Horror Kid In A Nightie he’s protecting. While Baz lays down the fire, newcomer Natalia uses her powers to spot foes through walls or highlight their weak points. This attack/support dynamic works well and some puzzles cleverly play off the co-op camaraderie.

 Naughty Dog-esque character interludes are also welcome. Over the seven hours it takes me to whisk through the game’s misty Russian island, some real slow-burning ‘stop and sniff the decomposing petunias’ sections crop up. Prepare for strolls through combat-free areas where characters just idly chitchat. It sure is nice to have a breather in Monster Central.

So what’s stopping this from scoring higher? Plain stupid design decisions. Firstly, bosses are uniformly awful. There’s a certain bastard who’s so wearing to fight, I drop the difficulty to Casual after 30 minutes of feebly trying to burn his mutated rump. Rev 2’s is also blighted by some harsh checkpoints: prepare to be plonked back five-plus minutes with sod all health too often.

Yes, the action is still a tad schlocky, the script crude and the bosses pap. Yet Revelations’ horror highs trump the rotting DNA brought over from Resi 6.

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