This review originally posted on Gamers' Temple.
Extra Features: Online play through PSN or Xbox LIVE, Leaderboards
Resident Evil 5 was the first game in the main Resident Evil series to bring in online play and it did so quite well with its online partner feature for co-op play. Even this single player purist was floored at the results of the online portion in Resident Evil 5. Now that new aspect has been expanded greatly with the new downloadable mode known as "Versus" that is up on both the PlayStation Store and Xbox LIVE marketplace for $5.00 or 400 MS points right now. I never have once considered the idea of a Resident Evil deathmatch to be much fun, but Versus has caused me to change that anti-online play attitude once again now that I have given it a shot.
Versus comes complete with four modes of play. The two main modes are Slayers and Survivors. Each of them can be played with four players that are all individually against each other or they can be played as a team game with two players on each team battling it out. So the complete list of modes is Slayers, Survivors, Team Slayers and Team Survivors. Players can choose from the same characters that are in the normal Mercenaries mode, though some have to be unlocked through the Bonus Features menu. All stages are taken directly from the Mercenaries mode.
Slayers is basically a four player version of The Mercenaries. Players battle it out individually to see which one can get the highest score based on chaining enemy kills and fighting off big boss enemies for a high score. All time extenders and combo bonuses are still in place like in the normal Mercenaries mini game. As a twist to the normal Mercenaries mode, players can now kill off each other. Killing off another player will award 1,000 points to the victor and subtract 1,000 points from the player killed.
Unlike avoiding attacks in The Mercenaries mode, in normal Slayers, there is no way to seek invincibility from another player's attacks. For instance, climbing a ladder or reaching down to pick up an item does not grant a player invincibility from another player's gunshot, but it does grant invincibility from a normal enemy's attack just like it did in the Mercenaries.
The hits from player to player affect the characters much like having the attack reaction in the main game of RE5 turned on. The players don't stagger unless they are about to enter dying status. Once a player enters dying status, that player can be finished by approaching the player and pressing the action button for a melee attack. The opposing player can be finished off with a gunshot also but the sheer power of these melee attacks can take out surrounding enemies and even send another unlucky nearby player into instant dying status, so is quite helpful to finish off a player with a melee attack as opposed to a normal gunshot.
Team Slayers works much like normal Slayers except that the game is played with two teams of two players. The objective still stands the same: defeat the enemies and chain kills. The main difference here is that one player can help out the other in obtaining enemy kills or while fighting against the other team. When a team member enters dying status the other player on that team can resuscitate or heal the player much like in duo Mercenaries, but when the player resuscitates the other player on that team, both player are completely invincible to all attacks during that resuscitation sequence. I have seen several games where a resuscitation can be triggered around 7 times in a row before one team finally kills off a player.
Both Slayer games are quite fun, but I can't help but feel that there should be an option to turn off player kills for Slayers. The game is so much fun with simply killing off normal enemies while four players are on the screen. Why can't we just kill them off without the need to battle amongst other players? I have seen several games where players simply ignore each other while chaining enemy kills and only attack other players when attacked.
Having a good knowledge of The Mercenaries mode can be extremely rewarding in Slayers since players can easily camp near enemy spawn points and kill off enemies as they appear. Sometimes there is an overall lack of enemies in an area however and sometimes the enemies seem to focus on one player more than another and seem to follow that player, which allows that certain player the ability to rack up kills rather easily.
Enemy bosses are worth the most points and finding them and then disposing of them can easily drive up a player's score, which is kind of unfair in a way. For instance, the Red Executioner is worth a whopping 15,000 point by himself, which can easily put a player in the lead if that player manages to defeat two of the Red Executioners. A lot of the point totals can be based on luck rather than skill at chaining kills. A character with a high chain total could easily fall to another player that luckily finds several bosses in a row and manages to kill them off. To even-out the scores a bit, a score multiplier of two times the normal score per enemy is put in place for the person in last place to help that person keep up with the other players, which is a rather nice touch for any player that is barely holding on.
In both Slayer modes, some of the characters have way too good weapons for boss disposal, while some have only weapons that are mainly good for support purposes. Try comparing Wesker STARS to Jill BSAA and you'll find that Wesker STARS seems a bit overpowered when it comes to fighting off a boss enemy. He can literally make mincemeat out of any boss with his Hydra shotgun.
Survivors mode pits four player against each other with a limited weapon variety for each character. A character comes equipped with a standard weapon such as a handgun or machine gun along with a healing item and some type of grenades. The players must scout the area for extra weapons. Extra gun weapons consist of rocket launchers, rifles, shotguns, magnums, and grenade launchers, all of which are high-powered and of course a player can pick up grenade and proximity bombs along the way. All stages now have random items and weapons lying around and the enemies are still present as well. Killing off an enemy in this mode has little significance other than getting it out of your way. Boss enemies tend to drop weapons and items, however.
A player can easily crowd an inventory full of high-powered weapons then fight off the opposing players with a big arsenal. A big arsenal doesn't immediately win the game though since several tactics can be used to trick another player. Any type of weapon that stuns a player for a set amount of seconds can be greatly taken advantage of. When a player stuns another player with an incendiary grenade, the attacker can quickly bring out a high-powered weapon such as magnum and shoot the staggering character until that character falls.
Traps can also be set with Proximity Bombs, which can be placed strategically over a map. For instance, a proximity bomb can be placed around an immediate corner or on the other side of a door or bottom of a ladder to get another player to accidentally step on it. It's quite fun to have a look at all the options available to players through the various items and weapons that one can gain.
Team Survivors is basically a team deathmatch. Unlike normal Survivors, a team member can rush in to help another player when that player reaches dying status. The same amount of invincibility that was present in Team Slayers during a resuscitation is present in Survivors as well, allowing players to stay right next to each other for support. Even though this may seem too helpful at first, a player with good timing can still kill off a character in dying status with rapid shots from a machine gun and handgun no matter if the partner sticks near that character or not. Someone will soon mess up on the timing somewhere.
Some of the stages in all modes have a tendency for slowdown on both the Xbox 360 version and the PS3 version. The slowdown isn't all that common but whenever the game does hit a drop in framerate, the onscreen action can became pretty choppy as the game struggles to maintain the overwhelming amount of movement on the screen. Like I said, it's not a very common issue, but it is more common on certain stages such as Public Assembly and the Prison. The Xbox 360 version has an extra system link option and the match can be set to player or ranked match. The PS3 version has only one match type by default. Both versions have leaderboards where scores can be posted up once gained. Even though the modes are usually four player games, they can be toned down to two or three players as well.
Overall, Versus is a good step in the right direction for a Resident Evil deathmatch-type mode. Slayers is my personal pick of the modes, even if I do deem it as problematic at times. Playing with a friend while playing either team game is a total blast and adds a new competitive feeling to the usual Mercenaries gameplay. Versus is very much worth the asking price of $5.00 or 400 MS points for any player that wants to extend the life of Resident Evil 5 more than it already can be with the included Mercenaries mode. It will have you coming back for more!
+ Good value that is easily worth the asking price
+ Four player deathmatches in Resident Evil style!
- Framerate issues on both versions that can get rather choppy at times
- No option to turn off the killing of other players in Slayers or Team Slayers
- Slayers can feel unfair and based on luck at times
Ready for a Resident Evil style deathmatch, partner? Are you locked and loaded?