Resident Evil: Revelations 2 PS4 PlayStation 4 1

Resident Evil: Revelations faced a tough test when we reviewed it on the PlayStation 3 a couple of years ago. At the time of its release in May 2013, this author had already played a meaty chunk of The Last of Us, and Jill Valentine's oceanic romp failed to really live up. In hindsight, it was perhaps a little unfair to expect Naughty Dog levels of excellence from what was, at the end of the day, a Nintendo 3DS port, but its timing did it no favours at all.

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 arrives in a much more favourable window, then, with its parent property having earned a jolt of goodwill earlier in the year due to the excellent Resident Evil HD Remaster, and with a budget price point attached. While the original adopted an episodic format – presumably due to its handheld origins – each instalment came bundled on the disc. This time, however, it's splitting things up properly.

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There'll be a total of four episodes, with the first available this week as part of your region's PlayStation Store update. We'll be providing a full review for the first outing in the fullness of time, but with the game available now in North America, we figured that you'd probably appreciate some first impressions from the release. And the good news is that the title's actually surprisingly enjoyable.

You'll play as four characters throughout the entire campaign, but we'll be focusing on Claire Redfield and Moira Burton for this particular report. Fan favourite Barry Burton and newcomer Natalia Korda do feature in the debut episode, too, but we'll have more on them in our full review. For now, know that the title adopts the same co-op structure originally established in Resident Evil 5. And yes, you can play with a pal.

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It's pretty great alone, though, as you can switch between characters on the fly. Claire Redfield, as you'd expect, is the experienced warrior, and comes armed with a combat knife, shotgun, and pistol. All of these armaments can be upgraded using combat packs that you'll find throughout the world, and you can shape them to your will by employing construction benches dotted around the map; there's already the basis of a great upgrade system here.

Moira, meanwhile, refuses to use firearms, so her main abilities centre on her flashlight. What's neat about this is that when you're controlling Claire, she'll still pivot her torch depending on where you point the camera, which is such a subtle thing, but it's brilliantly implemented. Of course, if you want to control her yourself, you can push the triangle button, and use the flashlight to stun enemies or reveal objects hidden in the world.

Many of these items will earn you BP, which can then be spent on various upgrades in a skill tree. Some of these are outrageously expensive, so it's clear that the release has been designed with replays in mind. And that's furthered by the fact that each episode comes with multiple mini-challenges for you to complete, which award you with even more BP. The early signs hint at an excellent reward loop.

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The combat is much as you'd expect: aim for the head, and try to avoid getting grabbed. One thing that's neat, though, is that you can use the two characters in tandem: stun your foes with Moira's flashlight, and then finish them off with a few bullets as Claire. It's still not perfect, but it's probably the best team dynamic that Capcom's crafted in a Resident Evil yet, and it comes into its own when you assign the characters two different tasks at once.

Unfortunately, the release is far from a looker. The character models are unusual – what's with the cast's constantly changing facial features? – and the environments are bland. It does run at 60 frames-per-second on the PS4, and looks silky smooth in motion as a result – but it's obvious that this has been produced on a threadbare budget, and worse still, ported from the technologically inferior PS3.

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Still, there are positive signs here. Labyrinth-like levels mask the underlying linearity, and while it's far from scary, we actually quite like the camp horror vibe that the developer's got going on. There are even self-referential jabs, which underline the tone that the studio's going for. It won't be to everyone's tastes, but the gags got a grin out of us. Of course, the voice acting is laughably bad to boot.

With a budget price attached, we actually reckon that this could end up being a surprise success. It's strange to see Capcom experimenting so freely with what has fast become its flagship franchise, but while this clearly isn't ever going to fill the role of a fully fledged next-gen sequel, its opening hours have enough silly survival horror appeal to make it worth a look. We'll bring you a full review of the first episode later in the week.

Have you had a chance to sink your teeth into Resident Evil: Revelations 2 yet, or are you turning your nose up at this like a nasty smell? Deal with the undead in the comments section below.