TGS 2008: Resident Evil 5 Co-Op Hands-On

We team up with Chris Redfield in our look at the co-op multiplayer in Capcom's latest frightfest.

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TOKYO--We're glad we got to play Sheva during our co-operative multiplayer time with Capcom's upcoming survival horror game, Resident Evil 5. The reason? Well, simply put, Sheva kicks some serious butt. That isn't to say that her partner in the game, Chris Redfield, is a slouch when it comes to kicking T-Virus infected monster butt, but there's just something about a girl who doesn't mind getting her fists dirty with zombie blood.

While we spent some time in both of the previously playable levels in RE5 solo, our co-operative team-up took place on the Shanty Town level. As the name suggests, this level takes place in the narrow confines of poor village made all the more intimidating by a rash of T-Virus-infected lunatics running around looking to make a meal out of Chris and Sheva's faces.

We started out armed with a pistol and a machine gun, while Chris was armed with a handgun and a rifle. All the weapons proved to be handy; though, this being an RE game, ammo is never as plentiful as it needs we'd like. After dealing with the first pack of zombies, Chris and Sheva split up for the first time, with Sheva taking the roof of a building to provide covering fire while Chris made his way deeper into the level. Providing cover isn't a walk in the park because as soon as Sheva is spotted by the enemy, she becomes just as enticing a target as Chris. And if you think shambling zombies are scary by themselves, try shambling zombies firing flaming crossbow bolts at your head.

With most of the baddies out the way, we headed back down to find Chris. We found another building entrance and made our way inside, fighting our way through a thick wall of infected victims. A gate downstairs was locked, so we had to find a way to get that door unlocked. After picking up a few red and green herbs--yep, some things never change, RE fans--we headed upstairs until we came to the roof where Chris helped Sheva get to an adjacent building by tossing her across.

Naturally, with the pair of us split up, the bad guys descended in force. What the brain-dead undead didn't count on was the high-powered rifle covering fire courtesy of Chris on the roof across from Sheva, which resulted in another big kill count for the duo. With the enemies dispatched, we guided Sheva down the stairs and into the streets where she could find the aforementioned locked gate and shoot the lock off, which took an excruciating four bullets to finish.

Thinking that each one of those bullets would be better served in a zombie's brain stem, we met up with Chris once more and headed down a narrow path before running into one of the creepiest bosses we've seen in an RE game. It was a hideous, malformed freak wielding a bloody chainsaw and wearing a nasty-looking mask that only partially hid his mutated features. As if that wasn't bad enough, we also had to deal with a number of the virus infectees entering the fray, resulting in a frantic boss battle that got more hectic by the moment.

While the control scheme in Resident Evil 5 can be awkward and the character movements are still a bit on the sludgy side, we did appreciate some of the special moves that both Chris and Sheva have at their disposal. Sheva, in particular, has a great flying kick move, which she can use with a press of the button when in close proximity to an enemy. Similarly, if one partner is in trouble, the other can rush in and help free him or her with a well-timed punch or kick (or indeed, a blast from a pistol or shotgun). In addition, even if you manage to get separated from one another, you can keep track of each other by pressing the R1 button (or RB on the Xbox 360) button, which will then automatically turn your character in your partner's direction and show an icon identifying his or her location.

We played the demo of RE5 "online" with a partner sitting in the same room as us on another console, so we didn't really get a chance to see if or how network performance will affect gameplay. We do know that, as it stands now, the host of an online RE5 match will always play as Chris, while the "guest" will always play as Sheva. That may change once the final game is released--in fact, we're hoping it does because more choice is usually a good thing--but we'll have to wait to see how the game progresses. In all, we're curious to see more of how the game will take advantage of the cooperative opportunities that RE5 presents and we look forward to bringing you more on the game in the coming months.

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