When I bought my PlayStation 4 last month, I purchased Resident Evil: Revelations 2 and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. I played them back to back, and noticed something no one else seems to have noticed: Resident Evil stole much of its plot from Tomb Raider. Upon discovering this, I read every review of the former that I could find, and not one brought this little factoid up.
Before I delve into this, I’d like to say I really enjoyed Resident Evil, warts and all. Its atmosphere and accompanying audio is worthy of their own articles. I really only bring this up because there are too many similarities to say Capcom was merely inspired. I personally have no problem with taking good ideas as long as you’re improving them, and that is where Capcom has consistently failed.
Also, spoiler warning for both games.
Resident Evi: Revelations 2 takes place on an isolated island with what seems to be no means of escape. Tomb Raider takes place on an isolated island with what seems to be no means of escape. This is about where this similarity ends, as the reasons each protagonist ends up on their respective island is different. RER2’s is a kidnapping, and Tomb Raider’s is an intentional expedition.
Also, this isn’t the first Resident Evil game to take place on an island: Code Veronica is. Perhaps it’s because both games feature Claire getting kidnapped?
The final survivors of RER2 are a large man and three women. The final survivors of Tomb Raider are a large man and three women. A one-on-one comparison leads me to say Moira is Lara, due to them starting their games as relatively weak women and walking off the island as hardened survivors. The rest of the cast is more aesthetics, except for Sam and Natalia who are both relatively helpless and the core of the Big Bad’s plan.
This is the only aspect Resident Evil does better as Natalia, though helpless, is far from useless.
3. No Escape
Both games use a crash to symbolize the feeling of no escape. RER2 features a helicopter crash that was sabotaged to crash by the Big Bad. Tomb Raider features a scene where Lara signals a passing plane with a fire. Moments later, the plane is struck by lightning, causing it to nearly kill Lara when it crashes.
4. The Big Bad’s Goal
RER2 features a female Big Bad whose end game is transferring her consciousness from her aging body into a younger body. Tomb Raider features a female Big Bad whose end game is transferring…you get the idea by now. This similarity is the most blatant offender, because the difference in the means is Resident Evil’s mythology is (loosely) rooted in science and technology, while Tomb Raider’s mythology is rooted in myth and the mystical.
Why None Of This Matters
Even with everything I just said, both games stand on their own just fine. All these similarities are minor enough that I can let them slide, aside from the last one.
Yes, both games take place on islands, but their backstories are completely different. RER2’s island is what I’ll assume is a Russian penal colony, or maybe even a gulag. The population seems to have economically suffered after the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of their mines, allowing the Big Bad to so easily appear to be their hero. Tomb Raider’s island is populated by an ancient society worshiping a Sun Queen who ritualistically transfers her soul into a new girl to achieve immortality.
Yes, the cast is similar, but in RER2 you can play as all four who each have their own skills. The only characters who have mentionable similarities are Moira and Lara, and Natalia and Sam. Barry is a returning veteran, and Jonah is kind of useless. Reyes and Claire are both more experienced, but Claire isn’t a single mom who had a brief affair with Moira/Lara’s mentor. And as previously mentioned, Natalia isn’t useless unlike Sam.
Yes, the crashes are similar, but what they’re flying and how they go down are completely different. Also, a known supporting character is piloting the helicopter. Not to mention Claire escapes the island, so the feeling of dread in Tomb Raider is far more real. In RER2, you delve deeper into the island to off the bad guy because that’s just how Claire rolls.
The bad guys are similar because they’re women who want to live forever. We get the long awaited Alex Wesker, first mentioned in Resident Evil 5. Wesker is far more interesting, as Himiko the Sun Queen is just kind of there.
Alex Wesker is an example of good female villain. The last time I saw a convincing one was Uncharted 3 with Marlowe. However, even in that superb game, having the player kill her is just too much. It ends with a disappointing final fight where the player is subjected to a quick time event fist fight with her manservant. Alex Wesker is so mutated by the end, killing her is no different than killing any other monster, so this hardly counts.
While none of the similarities are suspicious on their own, they become suspicious in each others’ company.
The press really does need to stop holding up Revelations: 2 as Resident Evil returning to form. Capcom is merely rehashing other people’s ideas instead of their own for a change, and not very well at that. Let’s save the celebrations for when Capcom does something legitimately original, or at least better.