Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

F83- In The Name Of Science I Eat Thee

It's a little known fact that most scientific investigation is really just an excuse to get people to stop trying to eat things they shouldn't. Scientists bravely collect interns and graduates and give them menial, repetitive tasks so we don't have to deal with those people. Thank you, science.


Quick Critique: Resident Evil Revelations 2

Regardless of the quality of the game, Revelations 2 has the absolute worst way to handle an episodic game. I bought the full season version of the game rather than each chapter individually and it took me 5 hours to download the initial 3GB file (the Playstation store is a godawful monstrosity). After completing chapter 1, the game tells me I can't continue because I don't own chapter 2 and that's all the message says. What you have to do is go to the Playstation Store button on the main menu (this will close the game), wade through all of the DLC and in-app purchases of consumable goods, and find everything that's marked as free since you bought the full package, find the first item you want and download it, quit the store, relaunch the game, return to the main menu, and repeat the process. I can kind of maybe give it to them that downloading everything all at once and breaking it up into individual downloads is the way to go (if only for how slow and terrible the Playstation Store is), but not giving me a link to the content after completing the chapter alone is inexcusable and awful design. Then to not give me an "add everything you owe me to my cart" button so I just have to go to the store once and then it queues up the pieces is something people need to hang their head in shame about.
On to the actual game itself, I still hate Claire. Can't stand her. Absolutely uninteresting protagonist with nothing to offer beyond “my brother was in better games”. Trained military person Barry isn't much better. He has lived through a zombie invasion and full-well knows there are monsters on this island, begins his rescue mission with no healing items and only 27 bullets in a handgun, a few seconds worth of rifle ammo, and no spare Magnum ammo. You really thought this one out, Barry. There are entire organizations in the RE world devoted to fighting monsters and you came alone. The characters aside, this is very much an action game. Where Rev1 was a step back towards the good RE1-3 days for around 2/3 of the game (not counting the terrible bosses), this one starts out as a more RE5 kind of experience from the first few minutes with a lot of shooting and a lot of combat. It's really just a third-person shooter where you don't have much ammo and you have next to no inventory space. As with the modern RE games, there are no zombies. They're more walking (usually sprinting) skeletons now and that's leaving the pseudo-science field behind to just becoming magic. It's kind of embarrassing that your undead mutant monster is able to sprint, leap, run serpentine patterns, and attack all with more speed and grace than your living, human, military-trained action star. The enemies also frequently don't react to shots. It's difficult to tell if you're hurting a boss and there are some enemies you just have to run from and can't fight, so you waste a lot of ammo and supplies trying to figure out if you should even be fighting the thing trying to kill you. You meet one enemy as Claire and you can't hurt it, but then when you meet it with Barry, you can hurt it and the very thing Barry does to kill it is what I was doing as Claire. It's a reoccurring theme that there a lot of areas where your objective isn't clear. Couple that with some scripted action scenes where you have to get to a certain place but figuring that out involves you running to the wrong place a lot or trying to fight things you should be running from.
In the single-player mode, the new partner mechanic is annoying. You have to switch to your partner then hunt around a room with her flashlight to find "the shiny thing", then switch back to the main character and pick it up. The scanner in Rev1 was at least just a single button press, but here you have to switch characters (which takes a beat), then play hide and seek with an invisible item, switch back, and then go puck up the item. You also run into the same complaint I had in RE6 with the collectibles where the game doesn't give you an indication that they are collectibles or what to do with them until you accidentally trigger the right action and then get mad at yourself for the half a dozen you missed along the way. On Team Barry, you come across spots that glow like an enemy but there's nothing there and no button prompts or anything. I figured it was just a glitch (this game is glitchy) and kept passing them over and over until I randomly decided to attack the spot and it turns out that attacking those spots counts as a collectible.
I don't want to say it's buggy but there's a lot of little things the game just doesn't handle well. Standing too close to an object and trying to aim causes the camera to jerk around and since the camera determines where you're aiming, it leads to a lot of missed shots. Enemies warp to windows/climbable objects when they interact with them, so you can be lining up a headshot only to have the enemy teleport five feet to the left to climb over a table. I encountered several cases of textures not loading (it actually makes some enemies look really cool). This is more nit-picky but it's something I absolutely cannot abide by in games, the sound effects and the voice volume controls are the same setting. Guns are super loud and people are quiet, so you have to make a choice between ridiculously loud gunshots and being able to hear people talk or reasonable gunshots and having to rely on the subtitles. Enemies have an ability where they survive mortal damage with 1 Health left no matter how strong that first to last attack was. That's annoying enough in its own right because it means you have to waste an extra bullet to just do 1 damage, but there are also invincibility frames that the enemies get when transitioning to this 1 Health state so you can wind up wasting an extra two or three bullets to put down something that should already be dead. When you're running low on ammo and every shot counts, that feels like the dumbest design decision you can make. It's not scarier or more challenging, the enemy just broke the rules of the game so it's unfair.
While playing the game may not be a lot of fun, it is surprisingly well-written. Every chapter for both Claire and Barry's parts ends in some massive cliffhanger or twist in the last 30 seconds of the section. It's a total gimmick but they execute on it amazingly. There are funny in-jokes that the game points out in silly ways. Claire says "I was almost a Claire sandwich" at one point, which is pretty groan worthy, but her partner immediately follows it up by complained how often Barry used to say that. And Barry has his own slew of stupid dad jokes he spouts through the game. I was fond of the way the adults curse like sailors when they're with each other but make poor attempts at reeling it in when the child character is around them. Natalia (Barry's partner, a little girl) is, again, surprisingly well-written. In a scene where she and Barry have to make it over a hill, Barry asks her if she's okay, and she responds with a quick little "I'm fine, I have strong longs.". It's a moment of just idle chatter but you take this kid who has rightfully been scared of everything around her and she has a moment of strength and has something to be proud of, but she doesn't overplay it and shows a little humility. Who'd have thought that one of the most believable child characters in a game would come from Capcom and in a Resident Evil game. To backtrack a bit, it's well-written, except for Moira. She's possibly the least likable character in a several decades old series with some pretty unlikable characters (like Claire!). She has an interesting backstory but everything else about her is totally off-putting. The ending also goes nowhere. Not to spoil anything, but the game's main theme is about overcoming fear and the bad guy is trying to find the ultimate person that can do this (for nefarious reasons, of course). Over the course of the game, there is one character that does this and the decision to have it overcome past traumas is what separates the good and bad endings and shows real character growth and conquering fear and... the game completely ignores this and has the bad guy go after a different character for no real reason.
I beat Revelations 1 three or four times to unlock the extras and because I really liked 2/3 of that game. Here, I beat the first two episodes and I'll probably never touch the story mode again. Releasing the chapters once a week was probably the best way to do it, because if you play them straight through, it's kind of boring. It's best to play Claire's section, take a break for a day, then play Barry's section, and take a break for a day or two before starting the next chapter.

The main game may be a bust, but I felt like I got my money's worth thanks to the return of Raid Mode. Much like in Rev1, Raid Mode is dumb and dumb in super fun ways. It throws away all the pretext of suspense and horror and turns RE into an arcade game with experience points, numbers popping out of enemies when you shoot them, and the ability to pull a rocket launcher out of thin air once you reach a high enough level. It also has Gina. And in a game with two unlikable protagonists, I love Gina. She's basically "crazy office lady vs monsters". She's wearing a tight blouse showing off her cleavage, a mini-skirt, and heels and she's destroying the forces of evil alongside military personnel and mutants. She... does not fair well in the first ten minutes of the real game, but having her here is the kind of stupidity that makes Raid made fun and really ramps up the silliness that makes the whole mode wacky fun good times. AAAnd they added in the Emotes from Lost Planet 2 so I can do crazy thumbs-up with her too. However, I strongly suggest looking up an FAQ for the character skills and costs before playing. You have to upgrade each character separately (and it's still a needlessly slow process and skill upgrades are super expensive) so knowing what you want to ultimately build towards will save you a lot of time and hassle.
I was not aware of the amount of consumable IAP in this game prior to purchasing it. That's incredibly crappy for a game that costs money up front. Consumable IAP in a free to play game, fine. Consumable IAP or locking/hindering features that were in the previous title in a game you had to pay for up front is unacceptable. They limited your inventory space (because they sell more space for real money now) and can't swap item parts any more (because they sell them for real money now). There are also Glasps. Glasps are an invisible instant kill enemy. In the campaign, they at least spawn from the same place and you have a way to identify them by doing some swapping of characters and activating abilities, but Raid Mode doesn't have that. And is it any wonder that they included these enemies because if you're just willing to spend some extra real money, you can buy the ability to revive during a mission.
The final Raid Mode battle doesn't lead up to anything. You just fight the last boss from the normal campaign, but it doesn't have any equivalent of the Ghost Ship from Revelations 1. The Ghost Ship was a huge goal to work towards and a gauntlet of the game pitting everything against you. If you could beat the Ghost Ship, there was nothing left for the game to throw at you. Here, I wound up killing off the boss before I killed its minions (leaving the boss's twitching dying corpse around while I mopped up magic skeletons). The only reason the final boss is hard is that just being near it hurts you and puts you in a stumble state where you can't fight back (which is a really crappy way to make your boss difficult), so the enemies that instantly kill you if you don't defeat them in a limited amount of time posed the biggest threat in that fight. It's an unsatisfying end to a great mode, but it's still worth playing if you can stomach the constant calls to nickle and dime you through IAP sales.



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