It’s been said time again: the original Resident Evil games helped define what we now call the “survival horror” genre. They helped bring some of the tension of scary movies to games, and they did it within the constraints of the very limited PlayStation and N64 hardware. They also did one other thing of note—help create an appreciation for campy dialogue in videogames.
Right from to the horribly acted live-action FMV introduction, to the Jill Sandwiches that everyone knows and loves, the old Resident Evil games had silly moments galore. And today, rather than criticizing them for being as unbelievably ridiculous as they were, we tend to look upon them fondly. And so, I find it oddly fitting that Resident Evil Revelations 2 is one of the campiest games I’ve played in a long time—after all, the first Revelations was seen as a return to the older style of Resident Evil games anyway. Why not turn up the camp levels for Revelations 2?
The start of Revelations 2 begins with a fake commercial advertising an organization called TerraSave that Claire Redfield and her friend Moira have joined. This commercial gives us quite possibly the greatest tagline in video games I have heard in years. “Because terr- doesn’t have to end in -rist.” My brother and I were laughing for a solid 20 minutes over this. A bit over a week later and I can’t believe another human being was actually paid money to write that. It’s just golden. The rest of the opening cutscene where Claire and Moira are captured and brought to some strange SAW-like torture prison on an deserted island doesn’t even matter anymore; we could barely pay attention and were still just rolling around on the couch, laughing uncontrollably.
Now would probably be the best time to talk about why my brother was there. Resident Evil Revelations 2 has a 2-player split-screen co-op mode, where anyone can join you at any time, and can leave the game at any time as well. Now, while it’s nice that it is so easy to pick-up and play with another person, the co-op has a few design flaws. The main problem is that the second player has nothing to do. Moira is too scared of guns and instead demands to stay on flashlight duty, which honestly sucks for both players. Player 2 is just your glorified flashlight for half of Episode 1, where all they do is shine the light so Claire (aka Player 1) can see better and shoot the monsters. That’s kind of boring for Player 2, and it means that Player 1 has to deal with barely being able to see if the two of you separate. This is very limiting, and what could be an interesting Four Swords-esque take on Resident Evil turns into an escort mission instead. One where, instead of escorting a computer-controlled character, you’re escorting an actual human partner.
(Moira does get a crowbar and begins to fight at close range later on, but the constant burden of Player 1 needing to watch out for Player 2 still remains.)
The second half of Episode 1 puts Player 1 in the shoes of Barry Burton, now out on a search for “my baby”. Yeah, Michael McConnohie’s signature deep, booming voice saying that is hilariously creepy, but Moira is his daughter, so hey—whatever. Barry “My Baby” Burton comes packed with a large arsenal of weapons, and his segments of the game have less puzzles and more action than Claire’s. Once again, though, Player 2 pretty much gets none of the action, as they find themselves playing as a little girl named Natalia. Natalia is the token creepy little girl from horror movies, complete with an innocent white dress and blue hair-ribbon. As Natalia, Player 2’s experience involves… uhh… pointing at monsters?
To explain this better, in Revelations 2 there are some hidden monsters that you can’t normally see until it’s too late and they have already damaged you, so Player 2 (as Natalia) can identify these monsters, and Player 1 can take them out before they hurt you. This isn’t a bad idea per se, especially if Natalia is a computer controlled ally, but my brother was just so utterly bored with this, I really couldn’t blame him for not paying attention at times. First Moira, where he barely did anything, then Natalia where he got to do even less. It was like Player 2 was a cruel joke by that point.
(I should point out, though, that Natalia can also throw bricks at monsters, which is hilarious. The first time my brother made the little girl hurl a brick across the room, we watched as it very slowly moved through the air and eventually slapped a zombie across the face just like the Home Alone 2 scene. It made us pause the game, as we once again collapsed to the floor, our sides in splits. The zombie even made a grunt noise like it was Daniel Stern! If you could see my face as I’m writing this, you’d see the widest of grins plastered across it. Just remembering the moment makes me chuckle.
While there are definitely issues with Resident Evil Revelations 2’s co-op feature, I do believe the camp aspect of the game is entirely intentional. It honestly feels like the developers just wanted to be playful and knew that the Resident Evil brand gave them the license to do so. The game even references the infamous “Jill Sandwich” line in the dialogue. The story never really drops the campy tone either, and Episode 2 continues to be just as silly, with some other revelations that are just as funny as “terr- doesn’t have to end in -rist.” At the end of the day, the story comes off as more of a B-movie type affair, which is fine, especially if you’re in need of a good, cheap laugh. If you’re in the right mindset, it’s great.
The co-op is, of course, a different matter. Player 2’s incredibly limited role might make the game more fun to play by yourself, since I can’t imagine anyone you know will want to be subjected to lighting your path or pointing out enemies for you to kill. Meanwhile, there’s also the problem that the puzzles in the game aren’t very clever, and aren’t especially designed for co-op. They’re rather straightforward, which was a letdown since I’d only just recently played Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, and that proved to be a really fun co-op experience that accommodates both you and your partner while being really fun in singleplayer, too.
Add in some choppy animation—especially when it comes to both entering and leaving rooms—throw in some graphics that would have been impressive on your 3DS screen but don’t really hold up on a big screen TV, and finally a less than stellar and somewhat cumbersome menu system, and it’s easy to say that Revelations 2 is far from perfect. It might be for you if you’re the kind of person that occasionally looks up “Jill Sandwich” on YouTube, but if you aren’t that heavily invested in Resident Evil’s characters, you aren’t missing much outside of an evening of mindless fun.