Resident Evil Revelations, or Resident Evil Salvation?
For as much praise as Resident Evil 4 gets for revolutionizing the survival horror genre, and even the third person shooter genre to some extent, it receives an even greater amount of criticism for damaging the Resident Evil series due to shifting it from being defined as "survival horror" to something more akin to "action horror". Contrary to popular opinion, however, the main problem with Resident Evil 4 wasn't that it was more action focused than any of the other earlier games in the series. From the first game all the way up to Resident Evil 6 the threat of bioterrorism has grown more and more, so the characters and their responses to this mounting dangers has also needed to grow. So from a narrative perspective, increasing the amount of action makes complete sense as the heroes of the series are willing to do whatever it takes to put an end to bioterrorism.
For Resident Evil 4 to have developed a gameplay style that allowed for players to be more action oriented rather than the action being portrayed through cut scenes, as was the case in the original games, was a completely natural progression and a necessary one. The gameplay was never to blame for the series dropping in quality, but rather the change in narrative, the addition of an unnecessary plot, is the culprit.
The Las Plagas is the thing at fault. It was a species of parasite that, instead of turning its victims into the mindless zombies that the T-Virus created, made its victims stronger, resistant to pain, lose higher reasoning functions and have full compliance to the Dominant Species Plaga. A parasite that's already naturally occurring in the world that's similar to the T,G, and T-Veronica viruses is so out of place that it's hard to believe that it's actually a part of the Resident Evil series. So Resident Evil 4 didn't really contribute anything to the series other than a way to drag the series through the gutter by opening the door to allow the creation of the Majini and J'avo in Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, respectively.
It was never the gameplay that muddled the series, but rather the plot device that was created that seems to have gotten out of hand. Without any way of really getting away from it, it has, consequentially, dragged the gameplay aspect of the series down as well.
This is where Resident Evil: Revelations 2 comes in.
From the two episodes that have been released so far, the game is heading in the right direction. The tone and the environments are much more unnerving than the previous "modern" entries and the introduction of a stealth system of sorts allows for the game to still retain some of the action elements of the recent games by keeping it balanced.
However, it's the storyline unfolding that is shining through the brightest. At the end of Barry Burton's part in the second episode it's revealed that the Overseer is Alex Wesker. The last time we heard anything about Alex was in the DLC, Lost In Nightmare, for Resident Evil 5 six years ago. One of the biggest mysteries in the Resident Evil series is finally being answered; what the hell happened to Alex Wesker?
All that we know is that she was a part of Project W alongside Albert Wesker and eventually became the head researcher for Spencer Ozwell on an island somewhere looking for a way to engineer immortality from a virus manufactured by Umbrella. In one of the Spencer's Memoirs, Spencer writes that he received news that Alex had succeeded in developing a "cure for the aliment of time", but that she had disappeared along with the rest of the researchers and the thousands of test subjects. We are never told what happened to Alex, whether she truly betrayed Spencer or if she and the others had perished somehow. Of all the mysteries in the Resident Evil games, this one has been the most prominent one and we're finally getting some answers.
One of the documents found in Revelations 2 states that the virus that is infecting the inhabitants is the T-Phobos virus, a variant of the T-Virus. A little bit later on Barry mentions that one of the enemies has characteristics similar to that of those infected with the Uroboros virus. This is an interesting development seeing as both the T-Virus and the Uroboros virus are advanced strains of the Progenitor Virus. Could Albert and Alex have been working together? Or did Alex steal some of Wesker's research after his death? Alex is most likely the last person with any strong ties to Spencer and, by extension, the Umbrella Corporation so the game is returning to what the early games were about; the horrors of Umbrella. Regardless, Revelations 2 is becoming more and more riddled with mysteries and it has created an atmosphere of uneasiness similar to the atmosphere of the original three games that made them the survival horror giants that they are today.
While the series can never go back to the days of tank controls and fixed camera angles, the latest installment is showing that it doesn't need to and that it really is possible to combine the classic elements of atmosphere and intrigue, and modern gameplay to make one spectacular game. With only two episodes released so far and another two episodes yet to be released, Resident Evil Revelations 2 is already demonstrating that there is still hope for the series to return to its former greatness.
Which was the best game in the series?
Was there something I left out? Don't agree with something I wrote? Feel free to leave a comment and give me some feedback.