After completing the third episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2, this one titled Judgment, I have to admit, things are looking up a bit. Maybe it's because I finally got used to the game's wonky AI during the previous episode. Or perhaps I've unlocked enough skills to compensate for it. Whatever the reason, getting through the third episode isn't quite as painful as the first two.
The Monster Factory
In this episode, Claire and Moira walk through a slaughterhouse and wade through a literal pool of blood, before taking a romp through the sewers, because no survival horror game is complete without them. Being the penultimate episode, there's less of an aimless wandering feel, and a greater sense that I'm getting close to meeting the Overseer (whose identity was revealed very early on in Barry's story).
As we quickly make our way to the conclusion of the four-part game, glaring plot holes start to show up, which I won't spoil for you. But I'll say one of the bigger ones is on a certain list of names you'll discover. Each episode's formulaic format is also painfully obvious. Claire and Moira wander around a lot, killing monsters, and occasionally solving object based puzzles (and I have to admit, the eagle room is quite clever). They might encounter a mini-boss once or twice, but their story always has at least one sequence where they have to fend against a horde of monsters looking to overwhelm them. There is a part where the two split up and have to work in tandem to turn off gas lines and let each other through. Switching between characters got a little disorienting, because you're not quite sure where the computer is facing, and it takes a second or two to orient yourself. This proved to be a great annoyance, because the section had a time limit on it.
Barry and Natalia's story is a little more paced. They'll often need to work together to get a machine working, all while discovering what happened six months ago, and their story usually ends with a big boss fight. This episode diverged a little bit from that formula by splitting the two up for a while in the sewers. Natalia had to activate levers from an upper platform while Barry moved across the floor below. It almost worked, until the end, where I was ambushed by invisible creatures, and Natalia was not positioned in the line of sight to warn me about them. The whole partnership breaks down when Natalia can't act as Barry's spotter. I ended up having to exploit the creatures' AI in order to defeat them.
There is a sequence during Barry's story where you have to move a generator around using a series of conveyor belts, often leaving the surprisingly sturdy device to drop from great heights. I kept imagining that it would accidentally fall on my AI companion, thus ending my game. It never happened, but the fact that I kept worrying about it speaks to how little faith I have in the computer's ability for self-preservation.
I've complained a lot about the game's companion AI, and there's still a lot of complaining to do, but this is the first episode where it started to feel useful. Playing as Barry, a creature blinded me, and Natalia helped me recover. Then again, I've always preferred the Barry storyline, since Natalia isn't a combat character, and does well to either provide support or stay out of the way. This is still a game that practically requires partnering up with a human player, which is too bad for PC players, who don't have co-op features in their game.
I also figured out that certain AI moves like having Claire and Barry use their guns to defend themselves, use follow-up moves, and otherwise defend themselves are all skills that need to be unlocked. Not exactly cheap ones, either. There is something seriously wrong when basic AI behaviors are unlockable skills.
While we're on the subject of skills, Revelations 2 is a little bit short on animations and effects. I picked up a skill that renders me temporarily invincible when I crouch down, but there doesn't appear to be an indicator showing when the skill is in effect. I also picked up a skill that increases my knife damage if I get a running start, but there's no way to tell if it's really working.
One episode remains. I can't say that the game's story, nor its episodic format, has made much of an impression on me, but I am interested in seeing how things finish out. Not to mention, how the two storylines, separated by six months, come together. I really wish there were more meaningful connections from episode to episode, or even chapter to chapter.
Some of the things Claire and Moira do in their story will change Barry's, but it's largely superficial. For example, killing a puss monster by shooting its body instead of its puss pocket leaves behind mines that will show up in Barry's story. Even if Moira's magic flashlight couldn't burn away the puss mines, the change is very hard to notice. It's not like you'll happen upon a couple mines and think, "Oh, this is exactly where I killed that monster that time." I only know about it because it's pointed out in the loading screen tips.
The connections per episode are related to weapons, ammunition count, and skills, which could have been accomplished in a straightforward non-episodic way.
Next week is the Revelations 2 finale. Last chance to win me over.