‘Contemplation’ runs away with its ‘The Last of Us’-like inspiration — and that’s a good thing
I wouldn’t say there’s much contemplation actually happening in the second episode of “Resident Evil: Revelations 2.” “Episode 2 — Contemplation” instead runs forward at a breakneck speed, throwing intense boss fights, dangerous stealth sequences and invisible traps at you for the better part of its four-hour run time. After the slow but promising start of the first episode, it seems we’re finally getting into the thick of it — whatever “it” is.
“Contemplation,” the second part of the four-part series, takes almost no time before it throws us back into the chaos on this mysterious island. Moving even closer to being horror action rather than survival action, our four protagonists find themselves combating much more dangerous enemies (and in greater numbers), plus dealing with the machinations of the big bad, the Overseer. There’s plenty of convoluted, “Resident Evil”-style plot drama going on, plus another major revelation sets up the events for “Episode 3.”
But before we can get to that cliffhanger (yes, another epic cliffhanger, though it definitely helps if you have some knowledge of “Resident Evil” lore), our pair of duos have to get through this multi-hour nightmare. (The episode’s length is brought up again because, for the first time in a while, this is an episodic game that seems to be putting out longer subsequent episodes, not shorter ones. It’s a nice change.)
As with “Episode 1 — Penal Colony,” we start with Claire Redfield and Moira Burton still trying to figure out just what the Kafka-spouting Overseer wants, and how to make it out of this alive. We still haven’t met her, and so she’s not particularly scary, but there’s some intrigue surrounding her. It’ll be interesting to see what her overarching goal is, though, knowing “Resident Evil” villains, I’m sure it’ll be fantastically nonsensical.
But what isn’t fantastically is just how much stronger the enemies get in this episode. Making “Episode 1” feel like a tutorial, you’re going to be facing waves of creatures that can take you down in just a few hits. And, of course, they seem to be able to take more hits, as well. Pair that with limited resources, even with Moira’s item-finding ability with her flashlight, and you can see how that presents a deadly problem.
If you hadn’t noticed “The Last of Us”-like game play elements, you will when you run into a particularly powerful enemy in Claire and Moira’s segment. My first reaction was, “Wait, this guy killed me a bunch of times in ‘Last of Us’!” If you played that game, you’ll find this enemy just as tough.
Even when we swap over to Barry Burton and Natalia Korda, the situation doesn’t ease up. In fact, their sequence introduces lovely creatures that are invisible to everyone but Natalia (who’s special ability allows her to see enemies — even invisible ones — through walls). Oh, and kill you instantly if they get too close. Fun, right?
But even while I gripe about invisible enemies (why do you continue to do this, “Resident Evil”?), the addition of tougher and more specialized virus-laden enemies forces a higher degree of cooperation between your two characters. Each pair is purposely unbalanced, with Claire and Barry being the firepower, Moira being a distractor and decent follow-up attacker, and Natalia just running around pointing out enemies’ weak points while not dying.
Now, in “Episode 2,” rather than mostly relying on your heavy-hitters, you have to strategize, especially if you’re playing single-player. (The game features split-screen co-op, which has its own strengths and weaknesses). Maybe you just lead enemies away with Moira or Natalia, or maybe you just stick to the two who can fire guns. Mostly likely, though, you’re going to have do some combination of both in order to best reserve life and ammo.
Also, again in “The Last of Us” style, there are a few instances where stealth is going to be your best friend, particularly with Barry and Natalia. Her ability to see enemies through walls allow for Barry to smartly avoid major confrontations until the odds are better in your favor.
By this episode, you also can start reaping the rewards of the skill tree. You collect BP for completing certain actions, such as earning in-game achievements, and for finding gemstones scattered throughout the island. You then can spend those points to power up the characters, though you can do so only between chapters. Surprisingly in-depth, the skill tree offers a variety of neat power-ups that can help augment your playing style. Some seemed useless at first but proved otherwise as the episode went on. I’m sure most of the unlockable abilities work in much the same way.
In the end, “Resident Evil: Revelations 2 — Episode 2: Contemplation” doesn’t allow for much time to actually contemplate much of anything. You’re going to running and gunning the whole time, which is a nice change from the previous episode. What the story does reveal is just as intriguing as what the first episode revealed, and it’s clear the danger is intensifying. In fact, just about everything is getting tougher. The action is kicking off, and it’s an absolute blast to have to fight your way through it. But here’s a tip: When Natalia yells to shoot, just do as she says.
Four “Don’t get into the helicopter!” out of five.