Resident Evil Revelations 2 – Episode 1: Penal Colony Preview

There is absolutely something over there.

Natalia Korda may just be the young girl Barry Burton’s been saddled with for what’s to come in Resident Evil Revelations 2, but Capcom wastes no time in proving the value of co-operative gameplay or co-op game mechanics. Natalia quickly points on items and spots monsters through walls for Barry. As the sequel to one of the more critically acclaimed Resident Evil games in years, Revelations 2 will have you trade between the likes of Claire and Barry. That said, Revelations 2 isn’t meant to be a dedicated and numbered Resident Evil like Resident Evil 6.

In fact, I needed a refresher despite having played Revelations 2 a few weeks ago and ultimately the title feels aimed square at the chest of gamers in general, fans of the franchise or otherwise. Rather than deliver a disc and ask players to wait for the episodes to arrive, Revelations 2 will be available to buy in its feature-complete state digitally with downloadable episodic content. The disc available at retail will only arrive once all four digital episodes have been released. That means you’ll either want to dedicate a day to play with friends or purchase online with buddies you've connected with previously.

[Here's video on how Revelations 2 updates Claire, but think of the game as a little less dependent on quick-time events. My demonstration opportunities haven't allowed me to go into character development or angle.]

Altogether that left me and my admittedly non-fanatic brain to muster up the understanding that Mercenaries mode, the guns-blazing high-score effort normally unlocked after a completed campaign, could present the meat and potatoes of this Resident Evil. In fact, for every single episode released, Capcom said there’d be eighteen different Mercenaries-style challenges with modifiers of their own.

Having played an episode with Claire at a previous appointment, I took to Barry and Natalia’s story only to find myself in a familiar environment. Both pairs of characters have a mission taking them through a prison, at least in the earlier episodes, though one of the traps could only be set off once between the two pairs. The trap was a large flaming statue that could be turned to burn zombies silly enough to wander into a cell next to you. Should the player use the trap as Claire, Barry won't have access to it, like he did during my demo. Unfortunately, I Rambo’d my ammunition away after leading a large horde of the undead up some stairs.

[Natalia can point at objects and collectibles. If it's on the ground and shining, Natalia can obviously see it when you direct her to point at it.]

These puzzle elements seem less pronounced than they have in past Resident Evil games, but that left open the possibility that you may miss them altogether. In that way, it’ll be interesting to see how players decide to deal with both obvious challenges, like those that stand up from the floor and shuffle over to bite you, and far-less-obvious missed opportunities, like squandering the fire trap. On my part, I attempted to go through the room with the trap a second time, but I had already maneuvered Barry into a spinning blade trap.

Instead, I moved on and took to the Mercenaries missions waiting after episode completion. There were six missions available to me, but alongside all of the different mission parameters were scores of weapons and weapon modifiers. Players will be asked to evaluate the weapons they collect, sell those they don’t want to keep, and add varying accessories to those they want to use in-mission. A hunting rifle could be equipped with freezing ammunition while a powerful shotgun could have fire ammo added to burn zombies. Adding to the power and fire rate of a pistol could bring it to brain-lobe-blasting levels of destructive force.

[This crazy bastard jumped out at me and tried to impale me with one of its several bladed limbs. I had to shoot at each limb until the flesh fell off and then blew it up when a pustule swelled up for explosive effect.]

In the three Mercenaries missions I attempted, none of them were exceedingly difficult to clear, though set amounts of enemies needed to be dealt with before a key would materialize and progression could continue. However, the timed nature of these missions combined with the less-than-stellar notification that I had obtained a key both kept me frustrated. Irregardless, lining up several headshots and caring little about ammunition or story meant that the shooting gameplay shined.

Revelations 2 doesn’t change what’s clearly been established for Resident Evil as a franchise. You’ll move through 3D environments, uncover new items, and learn more about whatever virus has unleashed havoc on society. Classic or obscure characters like Barry get love in a way that they normally wouldn’t, and for an early 2015 offering, this will be seen as a godsend for some gamers. I’ll be eager to finish the campaign I’ve started in Resident Evil: Revelations for Nintendo 3DS and then you’ll see me tearing up the varying undead with reckless abandon in Mercenaries for Revelations 2 come February.