President seagull

I have played Resident Evil 4 to completion no less than 6 times on two different consoles. I consider it one of the bright points of the last generation of consoles, so why haven’t I picked up Resident Evil 5 yet? After all, it’s been described as “Resident Evil 4.5” across the blogosphere; it should be right up my alley.

[[image:sheva.jpg:Dumber than a box of rocks?:center:0]]

I started thinking about this when I came dangerously close to sending an angry message to a notable former member of the gaming press when he publicly called out his former employer’s review of Resident Evil 5, wondering “if they even tried co-op.” What I wanted to say to him is that most people don’t have a friends list full of people who play games for a living, that most people are probably going to end up playing RE5 as a single player game — so why shouldn’t it be reviewed as one?

Resident Evil 4 is a game I can throw on at a moments notice, whenever the fancy strikes me. According to fans of Resident Evil 5, though, if I’m playing by myself I’m “doing it wrong.” If I want to play RE5 the “right” way, I first have to convince someone else to play it with me, and then I have to schedule a time to actually play. In other words, RE5 is something that has to be planned for and scheduled. If I can’t convince some sucker to rearrange their life to accommodate my wish to shoot some not-zombies, I’m stuck with an inferior experience, with a computer-controlled partner whose AI is apparently dumber than the average YouTube commenter.

RE4 came out years ago, and I can still wring a lot of enjoyment out of it. A few years from now, who is going to be there to play RE5 with me? Gamers have notoriously short attention spans, and it’s doubtful anyone on my friends lists will even care about RE5 once the next hyped-to-the-gills Event Game comes out.

When I consider spending my depreciated American dollar on RE5, I only have to look over to Left 4 Dead and Little Big Planet gathering dust on my shelf to remind myself that games that require me to beg people to play with me via Twitter or messages boards aren’t the greatest investment. When it comes to gaming, the only person I can count on to be available to play in my very limited free time is myself, and if a game is designed in such a way that the fun comes from having another person there with you, instead of from actually playing the game, than that game does me no good at all.

I worry that games are abandoning the single player. What hope is there for the single player experience when BioShock 2 is adding multiplayer? I had hoped that BioShock‘s success had proven that game publishers can afford focus on single-player experiences… but the way things are going, by the time Bioshock 4 rolls around we’ll be in MMO territory.

29 thoughts on “President seagull

  1. Wha? We play L4D all the time, no twitter neccessary. You do have to throw up the batsignal at a decent time in the thread though :

  2. Levi, you’ve pretty much confirmed my biggest worry about the game ever since co-op was announced as a way to somehow “improve” the RE experience. All I will say is that it well and truly sucks if the single-player game that RE4 dished up perfectly has been castrated in favour of this mindless obsession the current generation has with co-op gameplay.

  3. The fact that TT people are playing L4D doesn’t help me, because you all go to bed when I get a chance to play. Of course, you’re all on the 360 version. It’s a lot easier to just grab some random people to round out the party on PC.

  4. I just beat RE5, and I can safely say that if you liked Re4 you will like RE5… And no, I did not play co-op. From what I hear co-op is fun, but if you want the immersive RE-like experience better go solo. The game isn’t as scary as the preceding games, but it still has that nerve-wracking “oh my christ do i have enough ammo and health for this?!” feel to it. In co-op people tend to get chatty ont heir bluetooth headsets, where as without it, the creepy sounds, ambiance, and chatter between Chris and Sheva really grab you.

    I say, buy the game, love the game, and play solo, and screw those who talk shit about it.


  5. I agree with Pasha. For what it’s worth, I had similar concerns as you, but I haven’t spent a single moment of the game in co-op yet and I’m still enjoying it wholeheartedly. I’m definitely looking forward to a second run with a second player, but it isn’t necessary to appreciate the game.

  6. I think if you’re looking for examples of games that require “begging” to get people to play with you, Little Big Planet is a poor example. I find it great fun to try a few levels by myself at night after work, no friends required. No doubt there are certain levels that demand a second (or third, or fourth) player to make the game fun, but the entire “story” mode and a majority of the user-created levels are perfect for solitary enjoyment.

    As far as your points concerning RE5, you’re probably right. I don’t own it so I can’t say for sure, but AI co-op is always going to frustrate more than it will entertain.

  7. I’m not denying the brilliance of RE4 and RE5 definitely lacks some of its feel, but in the end I think it gains in other areas

    PS2/GC era was sadly a bit dry on co-op, but more and more AAA-games are having split screen/online co-op and I’m definitely loving it!

  8. Honestly, it’s a good enough game in its own right.

    But your post kind of makes me aware of another point. Namely, now with the advent of internet gaming on consoles, have we forgotten that half of the time, we can just invite someone we know personally to our house to play? It’s possible in RE5, too, you know.

  9. But that being said, it seems that split-screen multiplayer takes a backseat to online functionality these days. It seems to be in fewer and fewer games.

  10. I had a perfectly good time playing through RE5 in single player. Working with Sheva wasn’t a very big adjustment. And I’ve replayed RE4 many times, so I’m a pretty big fan of that type of game.

  11. Oh, I forgot to add: the only reason you might *NEED* to do co-op, is if you want someone to help you find all the medallions that are hidden through the game. Having two people looking doubles your chances of finding them.

  12. Having played RE5 for several hours now (near the end, Chapter 5-3) I can confirm that this is also my major gripe with the game as well. The game can be played single player, but it’s filled with annoyances and frustrations that only exist to facilitate the online co-op. I don’t have any friends with a PS3, let alone with RE5, so it’s an excersize in futility for me to play online co-op.

    And before anyone says “But you can play with others who aren’t friends,” I know that full well. The thing is that I, um, don’t! I don’t play with strangers online because every time I’ve tried in shooters or MMOs, everyone online is a hooting dickhole (to steal a Yahtzee-ism) who do more to destroy my enjoyment of a game than increase it.

    I’ll finish it, but it’ll get nowhere NEAR the replay time that RE4 did. Online gaming (or online modes for games becoming the forefront of them) is slowly killing my love of games.

  13. I still think Levi makes a good point. I swore off RE5, until my roommate expressed a desire for co-op. Having a local partner makes matchmaking unnecessary, or so I thought. Turns out that while my entertainment priority is “games first, everything else if I can’t”, my roomies have the opposite priority (okay, for one WoW is the top priority). I am confident I will complete it by month’s end, but it may not be in co-op, because wrangling either of the two is almost as hard as grabbing someone online.

    Still should be fun alone, but its like settling for a lesser experience because our daily timetables don’t happen to sync up until the weekend.

  14. I also wish that Capcom had put more focus on the single player mode. I have a roommate who was a big fan of RE4, so I know that I will be able to play through the game in splitscreen (probably multiple times). Unfortunately, he was out of town over the weekend.

    I had heard so many bad things about the single player mode (even though the internet does tend to exaggerate things) that I decided to boot it up and look for a partner online. The earliest level that showed up on the matchmaker screen was 3.1, but I figured I could just play a bit of the third level with someone, then start over when my friend got back. I made it through a (pretty awesome) cutscene, but once we got into the gameplay portion I found that I had a completely empty inventory, and then the other player kicked me out of the game. I decided to try single player just so that I could see what the game was like, but I could only play starting at level 3.1, and my inventory was completely empty. Also, I couldn’t find any way to reset my inventory or the level that I start at.

    I’m not even sure why it would be possible to get into a situation like this. Maybe I messed something up by choosing the wrong option, but it seems like such a basic thing that people should be able to start a fresh game whenever they want. Having to deal with this situation on top of having to download a patch and install the game on my hard drive makes me pine for the days of cartridges. Sure, they wouldn’t start every time, but the solution was usually just blowing out some dust.

  15. “I say, buy the game, love the game, and play solo, and screw those who talk shit about it.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with this comment. The outspoken know-it-all-know-nothing voice that drives internet popular opinion has been hating on RE5 since the get go, and it is uniformally wrong with just about every one of its major criticisms for this game.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing RE5 solo. Its suitable for a 1p game and if a dope like me can enjoy playing alone and beat the game with little trouble from the dumber than a bag of hammers AI, anyone can. The partner thing works really great as a mule for hauling stuff you want but don’t want to carry.

    I have no understanding how anyone could say a RE sequel being too much like Resident Evil 4 is a bad thing. The internet ought to stick with the simple stuff it understands like Sonic and Final Fantasy VII.

  16. Patrick: When you start a single-player game, one of the options under “Continue” is “Chapter Select” for exactly that reason.

  17. RE5 is very playable 1player. I have played the game up to 4-1 both 1 player and co-op. Sheva isnt a complete retard and when I set her to health mule and hand gun on cover mode, she avoids danger and backs me up when I kill ass. Co-op seems to be a little harder, IMO. So I agree that if you liked 4, you should like 5. Co-op is available but not necessarily the only mode or the main focus. Levi, you should check it out.

  18. Nich: I must have somehow missed that option. I spent a good 5 minutes or so going through the menus and I didn’t see it, but I’ll check again when I get home.

    To be fair, if I had been set on playing I would have probably put a lot more effort into fixing the problem. Knowing that my roommate was going to be home in a few days to play made it a lot easier to pop in Rock Band and Wind Waker and forget about RE5 for a few days. Also, though I am annoyed with this weird problem, I’m not soured on RE5. I’m glad that it’s similar to RE4, and the thing that I’m most excited about is finishing the game, just so that I can unlock Mercenaries mode. If Mercs ends up being exactly the same as the mode in RE4, but with more levels and characters and a co-op option, my $60 will have been well spent.

  19. Being a Single Player gamer myself mostly… it always bothered me when friends of mine would say… “What that game has no Online Multiplayer? Screw that!” I mean… how many Death Matches can one person play anyways? I hope there will always be games for us Single Players.

  20. The only reason I want to play RE5 is co-op. Based off the demo, single player is OK, but frustrating. Split-screen co-op, however, is a truly wonderful thing, as your Real Person partner can do so many things your AI partner cannot, like leave you alone – Computer Sheva never seems to move more than five feet from you.

  21. So far I have played through RE5 up to chapter 3 solo and I have to say that other than a few coop focused situations (ex: first boss) it plays great solo. You just gotta think of Shiva as Ashley from RE4, because you will have to hold her hand through most situations, but at least this time about your partner will actually assist you instead of hinder. The only thing I think that may be bad about coop is repayability. Unlike L4D, the coop does not seem to have any variety with enemy spawns or item placement.
    Nobody mentioned yet that RE5 is one of the few games out that that still offers system link for multiplayer (on the 360 at least). I think the only games so far that offer it that I am aware of on the 360 is Halo 3 and Tenchu. Also from what I hear the Mercs mode is in the game, but the other multiplayer modes are all DLC for extra money.

  22. Having played RE5 to conclusion in single player, online coop, and split-screen local, I think I can safely say that it is a much more enjoyable title when played with a real partner, but is still enjoyable alone — if you play to the AI’s strengths. The AI is really good with rifles, but mysteriously awful with handguns. It also seems to do very well with machine guns, but will never use a shotgun effectively. No matter what it’s a bit too trigger happy, but at least with the right weapons it won’t truly be wasting ammo.

    In any case, with a real partner so many more strategies become possible that it’ll ramp up your enjoyment of the game a great deal. Inventory management becomes mostly a lot easier, and I have to say that the network code is brilliantly implemented, with only a few minor glitches ever noticeable if you have a good connection to the other party.

    The game itself is still a bit of a letdown after RE4, as it lacks much of the atmosphere that traditionally makes the series so great; While the game’s environments are beautiful and detailed, they mostly come off as uninspired (With Chapter 4 and 5 being the only exceptions). More problematic is the story, which feels far too simplistic and straightforward for a series known for unexpected twists and turns.

    Ultimately it is a very enjoyable game when played how it was intended (especially on higher difficulties with infinite ammo turned off) but it isn’t quite up to RE4’s level. Co-op is a great addition to the series though, and I suspect that if this game’s failures are well understood by its team, they’ll be able to create something really special next time.

  23. I agree with your point wholeheartedly sir. I was interested in this game until the moment co-op was announced. It’s also the reason the only main RE game I’ve never finished is RE0 , the mechanic of having 2 people to control is terrible and actually RE5 seems to take a step in the wrong direction because you can’t set items down on the ground to use them later, a feature that RE0 did have. For all the whiners that complain it’s RE4.5 , I’d rather it actually was just that, Resident evil 4 with better graphics and NOTHING else. It’d be better then this mish mash crap that got released. I feel mildly obligated to try it but I really don’t have an interest to do so.

  24. So it’s not as good as RE4. It’s a great game nonetheless, and probably the most fun I’ve ever had with co-op since Zombies Ate My Neighbors on the SNES. And come on, how can you say no to co-op Mercenaries?

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