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Asura’s Wrath (EYE TO THE PAST)

Oh thank goodness, something to be positive about.  Phew…

Asura’s Wrath, the result of a dream partnership between Capcom and CyberConnect2 (the .hack// and Naruto game developer), is a magnificent send-up of all things anime.  It thrives in that place where heroes have outrageous hair styles, villains are hammy and overconfident, and all problems can be solved by punching them hard enough.

It’s that dedication and passion that’s both a blessing and a curse here.

SPOILERS for the game below:

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Lego Dimensions (EYE TO THE FUTURE)

I honestly wasn’t expecting “Skylanders but for LEGO” to be what came out of The LEGO Movie‘s success.  Were you?

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Return NULL – Episode 1 (THE NOW)

And here I thought Steam would disappoint.  Nope – I got a sufficiently fascinating game for my money.  Lucky me.

SPOILERS for the game follow:

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RvB 13 – Episode 2: Capital Assets (THE NOW)

While this season still appears to be setting up pieces of a larger puzzle, Capital Assets is more about addressing the lingering conflict and character dynamics coming out of Season 12.  So in that sense more is going on here than last episode – though there’s still room for levity in-between the world building scenes.

SPOILERS follow:

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This is fascinating.  And I can’t put my finger on the reason why.

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Resident Evil Revelations 2 (THE NOW)

Resident Evil isn’t dead.  It’s gasping for breath, trying to put pressure on a mortal wound.

Revelations 2 is the episodic sequel to 2012’s Resident Evil Revelations, following returning character Claire Redfield keeping herself and intern Moira Burton alive in the face of a “zombie” outbreak – and also fan favourite character Barry Burton, Moira’s father, teaming up with a psychic girl named Natalia to investigate Moira’s disappearance.

There are two core reasons I can imagine for why a person would take interest in this game: to see how a non-Telltale developer handles the episodic game production model, or to watch Capcom’s flailing attempt to regain fan support by offering a twisted take on their demands (“Oh, you liked Revelations? Let’s churn out a budget game, chop it up into four pieces, and call it Revelations 2.  Want us to bring back legacy characters? Here’s Barry Burton as imagined by people who liked Taken.  Want a game that’s unsettling, creative, and genuinely frightening? Um… here’s more Ganados-looking things.”)

To the first I say, admirable effort despite the flaws.  To the second, that’s pretty cynical but also par for the course – I can’t even begin to imagine what a new Mega Man game would look like, in modern Capcom’s hands.

We’ll discuss each episode on a case-by-case basis below, but let’s get the broad strokes out of the way: innovation does not factor into this game.  Playing any Resident Evil game after 4 prepares you for this particular experience; it is simply improved thanks to the implementation of such shocking features as “being able to move while aiming your gun” and “characters running more naturally and less like raging bulls”.

The characters aren’t cyphers or ill-suited, just one-dimensional and mostly defined by their roles.  Claire is the consummate professional, a working woman who doubles as a quietly experienced zombie expert.  Moira is the irritable teenager who resents her father.  Natalia is a child.  And Barry… actually, Barry’s got more going on but it almost feels like deliberate sabotage, casting him as the overzealous “Father knows EVERYTHING” character – when historically he comes across as an example of the father figure character in its best light.

I will, of course, concede this point: somewhere between the end of Episode 2 and the middle of Episode 3, the characters and the way they interact with the world becomes good.  Backstories and important details come to light, adding what I feel is essential sentiment to the plot – we now have reasons to care about these characters, to treat them as sympathetic yet flawed people.  Nothing I say will take away from that.

That having been said, no one element steps forward to truly elevate the standard gameplay.  The setting is a forested island, not unlike the woodland environments in Alan Wake or Deadly Premonition.  The music did not inspire in me fear or anxiety, but rather reminded me of better soundtracks – Silent Hill 2, for instance.  There is ample grey-and-brown interiors, and blood is occasionally spilt, but it rarely felt visceral or grotesque.  It bored me for the most part, though sometimes it came close to being inspired.

Revelations 2 is a frustrating mess, a mixed bag that spends its back half apologizing and smoothing over my irritation over the first half.  If you still want an episode-by-episode breakdown, keep reading – but we are now firmly in SPOILER TERRITORY.

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RvB 13 – Episode 1: Prologue (THE NOW)

WARNING: Spoilers follow.

So this happened.

First things first, you can tell Rooster Teeth’s fancy new partnership with Fullscreen has paid off – or maybe they’ve just refined their method; either way, the animation is top form.

Character models have subtle little movements and details, the environments channel the worn-in science-fiction feel of Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars, and any action (brief though it is) finds a nice balance between the impact of blows and the fluidity of motion.  It’s further proof that the famed cockbite is the best in the business at what they do.

Beyond that, there isn’t much to tell – this is moving the pieces into position for what promises to be a game-changing season.  But it’s a really good version of that, and I urge you to go and watch it before reading further.

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