The first episode of Resident Evil: Revelations 2 wasn't very good. Maybe it will get better, maybe not. What I didn't expect, however, was to be spending so many hours with the game's RPG-influenced Raid Mode.
It's not usually my thing, but when I have a few minutes to spare, I've found myself booting up Raid Mode, praying for loot, and watching numbers pop off zombies.
Raid Mode first appeared in the original Revelations, but it's really an evolved take on The Mercenaries, which Capcom has played with since Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. In Nemesis, you rush through the slice of the game and would gain points for killing enemies, saving people, etc.
In Resident Evil 4, players tried to kill as many enemies as possible before a chopper arrived.
The mode saw a few changes in Resident Evil 5. Notably, melee attacks extended your time.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Resident Evil 6 saw similar evolutions to the mode, including the ability to equip various skills on enemies to augment the weapons you were firing.
And so concludes our history lesson on Resident Evil's long-gestating score attack mode.
With the Revelations series, Capcom has infused the mode with RPG mechanics. Now, characters level up, a few have unique skills, health bars are featured prominently at the top of the screen, and damage numbers oh-so-satisfyingly pop off creatures while you fire at them. I'm not sure what it is about a visualised dice roll when a bullet connects, but boy it feels good.
The basic loop for Raid Mode is simple. Capcom has sliced and diced various sections from recent Resident Evil games into much smaller maps. It's your job to survive the map, defeat enough enemies to unlock the exit, and collect the loot's found in treasure chests along the way. There are a few variations on this. Some of them are timed, while others have you defending a position, and the game tosses both fast and slow enemies your way to keep you surprised.
You're never spending more than a few minutes in any section, which is key. The combat in Revelations 2 is not best in class, but it's good enough, and Raid Mode never outlasts its welcome. There's enough variety on each map to keep it interesting, and if that's not enough, the loot provides another incentive. You can buy new weapons through a shop, but the really good stuff is found inside chests. Thing is, the unique stats aren't disclosed until you pay a finder's fee. Often, selling an item back to the store will net you more cash than whatever the weapon actually becomes, so the meta strategy involves dumping weapons you have zero interest in learning more about — i.e. a level seven rifle when you've graduated to level 10.
Here's what loot looks like when you've discovered some:
Part of what I love about about Raid Mode is how it gets weird. I know, this is a series about reanimated zombies and other monstrosities, but weird in way Resident Evil doesn't normally get weird, OK? You can equip weapons with freezing bullets, and some enemies might lumber after you while they're on fire. It's what allows an ultimately repetitive game mode to stay fresh.
Furthermore, despite how ridiculous the story has become in these games, Resident Evil takes itself super seriously. The developers appear to be aware of this, and allow themselves to crack jokes in the game's Raid Mode. I mean, how else can you explain Albert Wesker's dance moves?
It's tempting to call Raid Mode "addictive," but I'm not a huge fan of that world — it's too simple. Raid Mode works because it's provides a satisfying sense of progress and accomplishment that deftly walks between the line of chance and skill. It's possible to succeed during challenges that would otherwise be a cakewalk with the proper weapons because you have the skill to pull it off.
Besides progressing through sets of missions, there are daily challenges. Early on, these have pretty rough. I'll quickly become overwhelmed by the more difficult enemies, resulting in quick brushes with death. My weapons simply aren't strong enough to take some of them down without really putting up a fight and making sure my head shots really count. It's the first time I had to give a damn about survival while playing a Resident Evil game in way too long. I like it.
I'm not sure what else could convince you it's worth checking out.
Actually, lemme try this.
BARRY BURTON PUNCHING A COIN FLOATING IN MID-AIR BECAUSE WHATEVER.
BAM! Don't f**k with Barry Burton.