Versus Mode will be familiar to anyone that has played the bonus Mercenaries Mode included in RE5. The DLC is, essentially, a five dollar repackaging of Mercenaries, allowing players to forgo cooperation for deathmatch-style gameplay. It's a simple twist, and one that doesn't even provide the illusion of effort on Capcom's part. It's clear to us that Versus should (and could) have been part of the original retail package. Yet in spite of this shadiness, it's hard to deny that Versus is a fun mode, and, if you've already exhausted the disc's content, worth the five dollar asking price.
The notion of stop-and-shoot gameplay sounds absurd for online multiplayer. And yet, it's this limitation that makes Versus stand out in a crowded field of multiplayer shooters. It's certainly not for everyone, but those that have mastered the eccentricities of RE4 and RE5 will find the competitive multiplayer a welcome challenge. Let's not forget that while the characters of Resident Evil move like tanks, they are still far more agile than any of the AI-controlled enemies. Sheva, for example, is a deadly target to go up against, if only because of her ability to move quicker than your over-the-shoulder view can follow. This forces players to become truly knowledgeable of their surroundings and take full advantage of the environment and the weapons it hides.
2-vs-2 play works the best. The fun of Resident Evil 5's co-op adventure is only enhanced by having two human enemies hellbent on murdering you. Players will quickly discover that the best strategy is to work in tandem against both the human and Majinji enemies that appear on the map. You'll find yourself frequently going back-to-back, shooting enemies that come streaming around you.
Capcom claims there are two modes of play in Versus, but that's not entirely true. Both Survivor's Rule and Slayer's Rule boil down to nearly the same experience. The only main difference is how the scoring system. Slayer's Rule is an exact copy of Mercenaries, with players (or teams) rewarded for getting kill combos. Survivor's Rule is a more traditional death match affair, with players scored on how much damage they deal to other human enemies. Human players can kill each other in both modes, meaning player-vs-player combat is quite common regardless of which game type you choose. Additionally, Majinji spawn in both modes -- the only difference is you don't get points in Survivor's Rule for taking them out.
Versus Mode is a different kind of multiplayer experience, filled with unbalanced weapons, characters and quirks. Yet, for the Resident Evil veteran, it's precisely these oddities that make for refreshing gameplay that differentiates itself from other online shooters. (I know I've already squeezed more than five bucks of value out this DLC.) If you love Resident Evil 5 (but only if you love it), you'll definitely be satisfied.
Bonus: Don't believe us? Try it for yourself! We're tweeting away one Xbox Live download code ... right now!
- Clue #1: Amount of ammo left in Jill's pistol in the first screenshot (at top of post)
- Clue #2: Number of seconds (one digit) left in the match pictured in the second screenshot
- Clue #3: First letter of Resident Evil character Jill's last name
- Clue #4: First letter of Joystiq reviewer Andrew's last name