x360a Review: Resident Evil 5's Versus Mode
Written Friday, April 10, 2009 By Nate Gillick
By now, most people who have played Resident Evil 5 have eliminated the Uroboros threat, and spent hours sharpening their skills in the fires of Mercenaries mode. What's left then but to take your skills online to battle against BSAA agents from around the globe? Resident Evil 5's new versus mode allows players to do just that. Taking the fight online will set you back 400 Microsoft Points for a download that's under two megabytes in size ... The reason the download is so small is that you're paying to unlock content that was already on the disc. So, this isn't really "DLC" at all. Capcom's official line is that the Versus mode wasn't ready by the release date, and they needed time to fix it. They justify the price by claiming "Versus mode represents content that was created outside the scope of the original design of Resident Evil 5. This is an all new mode that required additional resources to create, not to mention the additional bandwidth costs." Is 400 points reasonable for the new mode, or simply an attempt to prod us for more cash?
Wesker has a score to settle.
Versus mode provides two new game modes, which can be played in either 2-4 player free-for-alls, or in 2 v 2 team matches. The first mode, Slayers, plays essentially the same as Mercenaries mode, where the goal is to kill as many Majini as possible to rack up a high score, except this time, there's another player on the map with you competing for kills. Since players can kill each other to score points, and dying reduces a person's point total, players need to be on guard from each other as much as the Majini, as a couple deaths can turn the tide of a match in a hurry. Survivors on the other hand plays more like a traditional deathmatch, where players score points only by killing other players. Each player will start with only one weapon, making finding the power weapons hidden on the map key for success. Majini continue to spawn in this mode, adding a welcome element of chaos to the proceedings. Both modes can be played immediately after purchase on any of the eight maps also playable in Mercenaries; previously unlocking levels in that mode is not required here.
All of the playable characters in Mercenaries can be used in Versus, though most of them have to be purchased using exchange points. Balance becomes an issue in Versus, as some characters are clearly better than others for certain modes. In Survivors, characters that start with machine guns almost always have an advantage over characters who only get handguns, and some characters work better than others in Slayers, as well. This means players new to the game (or those that haven't purchased many characters yet) will find themselves at a disadvantage until they have enough points to buy the better characters. While some characters clearly won't cut it in most versus battles, at last half of them remain viable options. At first, I feared Wesker would be overpowered, and nearly universally used, but this is not the case. I've seen Weskers lose many, many times and I've played enough battles to know that the best player wins, not the one with the best starting equipment, though the default characters are underpowered.
Losing? Don't get mad, get even.
Versus mode games provide some frantic and fun action, but getting into them can sometimes be a pain in the ass. Players have the ability to search for matches based on the game type, map, home country, or all three, to best find a game suiting their wishes, or they can just hit quick match for a random listing of available games. Unfortunately, it shows players currently in the game, but games can easily fill by the time you click to join. If this happens, you're kicked to the Versus mode front menu, and have to re-enter search parameters all over again, which can become annoying in a hurry. Since both ranked and player matches show the host's name, it's not hard for friends to find each other for games, if they know what to search for. Before joining a game, it's possible to see your connection quality, so as long as you join matches that show three bars, there shouldn't be any lag. I never experienced any.
The new achievements for Versus mode are an uninspired grind, simply involving winning 30 games of each type, killing 100 players with melee attacks, and meeting certain score or combo goals in Survivor or Slayer modes, respectively. They'll take a while to earn legitimately, or can be boosted in player matches if Versus isn't something you enjoy. Unfortunately, the records section of the game does not keep track of games played or won, or kills made against players in any Versus mode games, making it impossible to track in-game how close you are to the achievements, which is disappointing.
Ultimately, RE5's Versus mode provides some fun and frantic battles, but I wonder about its lasting appeal. Will this mode catch on, and remain an intense alternative to Mercenaries for months to come, or will it be impossible to find a game in two months? The milage and enjoyment players can expect to get from Versus mode will depend on if they have the patience to save up and buy better characters, how much they enjoyed Mercenaries mode (as Versus is essentially building off of it), and if they have other friends playing it too. The action here is easily worth the 400 points for those who will play it frequently, but it's not for everyone. As much fun as Versus mode is, we can't forgive a developer asking us to pay for disc content, and our score reflects this.