If you were hoping the episodic Resident Evil experiment would go out with a bang, I have some bad news. If you were hoping for an unsatisfying conclusion to this island story... well, that's a weird thing to hope for. Congrats?
Everything in Resident Evil: Revelations 2 has been building to reaching the mysterious tower at the centre of the island. What's inside the tower was less important than reaching it, as the rest of the island appears to have been abandoned. While Claire and Moira are headed there, it's still a sprawling presence. When Barry and Natalia start poking around six months later, it's a pile of rubble full of nasty monsters. The fourth and final episode explains how this happened.
If you need to catch up, check out this video:
Something's up between Natalia and Alex Wesker. The game's been hinting this for a while.
Before we learn anything about their relationship, there's an incredibly short sequence with Claire and Moire. We're talking less than 20 minutes before it's all over. You learn a bit more about what Alex is after before a series of events push Claire and Moira to head for the exits. In no time at all, the screen cuts to black and we're over to Barry and Natalia. It's an abrupt and frustrating conclusion to their story arc more interested in shock than providing any closure.
This would be fine if the game was saving everything for Barry and Natalia. It wouldn't be surprising, either, since the game's strongest moments have always involved the two of them.
Sadly, this isn't the case. So much of the final episode pits the two of them against endless streams of the game's strongest enemies in extremely close quarters, preventing the lovely dynamic that's worked out so well in previous episodes. Revelations 2 combat has worked best when the open spaces provide Barry and Natalia opportunities to balance their abilities off one another. The game has succeeded in deriving tension from claustrophobic moments, but everything about this episode feels too tight, contained, and frustrating than anything else.
Revelations 2 also makes the classic mistake of stuffing important character motivations into notebooks and diaries. If you want to know anything about how or why things are happening in the game, you'll have to seek out the supplemental material, as it doesn't happen anywhere else.
The irritation was never more potent than when the season finally came to an end. The ending is baffling, a"WTF?!" cliffhanger reserved for the promise of another episode. This cliffhanger is sequel bait. "Hopefully enough people enjoyed this so you can find out what's going on!" This season has introduced lots of questions over its four-episode arc and answered precious few.
Oddly enough, that's not what bothered me the most.
Whenever you finish an episode, the game bestows a series of medals to players, based on their in-game actions. One of them was "Worst Possible Outcome," which stated I'd achieved the game's worst ending. This had me scratching my head, since I couldn't remember a single branching path in the game's story. Somehow, I'd unlocked the worst ending by accident -- or so I thought. While conferring with a colleague was also playing Revelations 2, we swapped theories about how the ending played out. He'd witness the "good" ending, which includes a whole sequence that wasn't part of my playthrough. We wondered if the episodic ratings of how well you played were part of it, but I'd generally performed pretty well -- mostly As and Bs.
Then, I remembered a small moment from the end of Claire and Moire's part of episode three.
We're going to slightly tip into spoiler territory now, if you'd like to look away.
When Claire is being pinned to the ground by her former friend, her gun is knocked in the direction of Moira. We know Moira has a problem with guns because she accidentally shot her sister using one of Barry's weapons as a kid. This sequence allows you to help Moira deal with this trauma by confronting it. If you don't remember what I'm talking about, check this out:
When I played, I was too busy focusing on the giant monster and neglected the prompt. D'oh. In my game, Claire grabs the gun and manages to save herself. Unfortunately, this appears to be what determines if you experience the "good" or "bad" ending, and it's a load of bullshit. I'm punished with a crappy outcome because I missed a button prompt that vanishes in seconds?
Sorry, Capcom, I'll just hop on YouTube to check out the other ending later today.
There's a bit more to do when the credits roll, if you're still game. Besides Raid Mode, there are two bonus episodes with tweaked mechanics focused specifically on Moira and Natalia.
Moira's is a combat-heavy survival mode, wherein you're hunting rabbits and spiders to use as continues if you die -- no joke. This episode tosses endless streams of difficult enemies after you, so be prepared to conserve your ammunition. Oh, and also be ready to finish the episode in one sitting, since quitting out means your save game is suddenly erased. Why? Great question!
I couldn't make it more than five minutes into Natalia's episode. It's a bunch of trial-and-error stealth sequences in which being caught means Natalia immediately dies. Sorry, she "faints."
The episodes didn't feel like a bonus.
It's been interesting to see Capcom try out new ideas with Revelations 2, even if a bunch of them didn't work out. The combat was rock solid, but the story's a waste, it's unclear why Capcom keeps forcing co-op into the series, and the episodic dynamic hurt the story and gameplay. An episodic Resident Evil could work, but it didn't come together in Revelations 2.