I’ve been a fan of Resident Evil ever since its fourth iteration. Now, I know most will argue that RE4 isn’t the best in the series nor is it the scariest, but it really clicked with me, and it featured just the right amount of action, horror and puzzling to captivate me fully. A couple of years later, Resident Evil 5 was out and about, with most of the people disliking it. Not me though. Disregarding the fact that Redfield seemingly chewed steroids ever since the first game and the newly COOP-centric focus of the series, I completed the game numerous times, unlocking stuff along the way. It was genuinely fun. Not to mention the fact that it was also brilliantly optimized and that it worked wonderfully on a really wide range of hardware while still looking really nice. The next iteration of the series was a tad different. Resident Evil 6 changed some things for the better while messing most of the other stuff up. The controls felt iffy and overly complex (even though you could perform an awesome range of stunts), there was no proper inventory nor item collection and it generally wasn’t as polished as we all wanted it to be. It also shifted the series into a much more action-heavy direction, even more so than its predecessor. I still played it for a fair bit of time, even though it never enthralled me as the previous Resident Evil games did. And now, here we are, with the series supposedly returning to its roots as a horror adventure game. Does Revelations 2 fulfill its goals? The answer is both a yes and a no, because it’s a fairly complex matter.

Firstly, I have to say I have no clue as to why would Capcom opt to cut the game up into four episodes and sell each separately in the course of a couple of weeks. If there’s any logic behind this course of action, it eludes me. Either way, the first episode fully wraps up in about two hours or so, so there isn’t that much to do if you’re in it just for the story/character development. Thankfully, there’s more to the game than that, but I’ll get to that a tad later. Just as usual, you’ll be controlling a pair of characters in a highly volatile environment as they try to complete their appropriate goals and objectives. Each episode will be split in two parts; in the story of Claire Redfield and Moira Burton you’ll be trying to figure out who is behind their kidnapping and entrapment on a sequestered island as they try to escape from the clutches of the infected. The other half happens six months later, as Barry Burton arrives to the island in search of his daughter and finds Natalia, an infected child with a mysterious ability to “feel” the infested. These two then push forward in an attempt to find Claire and Moira and preferably stay alive in the process.

The storyline, while typically Resident Evil-ish in its cheesiness, is pretty decent but not groundbreaking in any way. What I really appreciate, however, is that the characters all feel like actual human beings and it’s not that difficult to sympathize with them. While a substantial amount of dread does emanate from the game in both chapters, it differs depending on the characters you hold control over. In the Claire/Moira combo, for example, you’ll be severely underpowered and under-equipped, scrounging for ammo and trying to make the best out of what you have. Barry, on the other hand, comes fully equipped with a fan-favourite Samurai Edge, a heavy Magnum and an assault rifle. This, combined with a very lovely stealth section and the fact that Natalia’s ability allows the pair to go on the offensive much more effectively, means that a part of the horror is gone. But this is quickly alleviated with a bunch of Uroboros-like infected that are much more difficult to take down. Revelations 2, in that regard, has a much better atmosphere than any other RE game I’ve played since RE4.

Gameplay, too, is well-built from the ground up. The game perfectly balances the agility the characters require in combat and the sense of helplessness once it really starts going. Ammo will never be overly scarce, but you won’t find that much of it either. The inclusion of crouching means stealthy sequences are possible, as depicted in Barry and Natalia’s rather badass chapter. Sprinting and evading, on the other hand, will make the characters much more responsive and reliable when it comes to actually moving around. All in all, I’m perfectly happy with the game’s gameplay mechanics and hope Capcom continues working on this game in the same tone.

Many will also be happy to hear that the spin-off’s proprietary Raid Mode is back with a vengeance, too. Now sporting a load of fan-service characters such as Hunk and Albert Wesker himself, more guns, skills and mods than you can keep track of and a truly spectacular amount of levels – the Raid Mode will provide dozens of hours to those who enjoy the game for what it is. The only thing that bugs me about it is that it’s draped in microtransactions. Want to play as Hunk and/or Wesker? Oh you’ll have to pay some more. Want to unlock a bigger inventory for your weapons? Welp, pay up. These aren’t exorbitant sums and won’t stop a die-hard fan to play as Wesker if he/she wants to, but it seems unnecessary.

The game’s graphics are nothing special. Revelations 2 is a decidedly last-gen game, with somewhat muddy textures and washed out colours. The character animations are a bit nicer, even though they’re also quite mediocre. The good usage of post-processing is what saves the day, honestly, with non-intrusive HDR, depth of field and motion blur being its crown jewel. Once you put it all together you get a decent experience that sure as hell does look pretty every once in a while, but not for the most part. The music is really good, on the other hand, especially in Raid Mode, where catchy tunes replace the dreary sounds of the game’s story mode.

Now, as much as I like Revelations 2 (and I really do, trust me), the game’s PC release comes plagued with problems that I simply cannot overlook. Firstly, and most importantly, there is no COOP whatsoever implemented at the time of writing this review. Now, online multiplayer functionality will be available soon-ish, according to Capcom, but what astonishes me is that the devs actually removed offline COOP from PC version entirely, even though it was advertised on its Steam page. Consoles still have it and Capcom claim they did it to optimize the user experience, but it’s bullshit and angers me greatly. Then there’s the fact that the game doesn’t detect a dedicated graphics processor on laptops at all. It’s also miserably optimized, what with all the lagging high-end gamers are experiencing on their nuclear plant-grade computers. It’s clear that there has been little attention given to the game’s PC release and that will have to change. Comparing this game to Resident Evil 5, a game that even now looks much better than Revelations 2 and runs much faster makes this one look like a limping mare compared to a racing horse. Then there are the minor issues such as the iffy camera controls: it likes to spaz out, especially if you move your mouse while dashing.

To summarize, Revelations 2 is probably the best thing that could happen to the franchise right now, gameplay and storyline-wise, at least. Its strange episodic structure will put some people off at first, but the fact that the entire season will be available in a boxed edition once all four episodes are out means there shouldn’t be much issue on that front. The PC release is plagued with optimization issues and overlooks, as well as a stupid lack of local COOP option – something to take into account if you plan on buying the game. Next week we’ll cover the next episode and touch upon these matters again to try and deduct if Capcom fixed the bugger, but honestly, I wouldn’t get my hopes up to high.