There once was this mode in Resident Evil 5 called Mercenaries where one or two players could go through a number of maps killing as many enemies as possible within a certain period of time. The goal of Mercenaries was to get a super high score which would unlock more stages and new characters at the same time. Capcom then thought it would be just grand if it could use this mode in a competitive way and charge 400 ($5) MS points for it. From this idea Versus mode was born. This 300KB add-on has been deemed unnecessary by many and should have been included on the disc. The real question is if the purchase is really worth it, and it’s not all that easy to encourage or discourage the buy either way. On the one hand Versus does add the extra thrill of fighting both man and infected at the same time, however that thrill will be short lived.
Let me first say that the matchmaking system is not good at all. If players cannot find a match or the one they choose is full, you are taken back to the Versus screen to repeat the process all over again. In most games a message saying the match is full and allow you to refresh the page but for some reason Capcom though that would be just too easy. After a few failed attempts you may want to shut the game down altogether but if you manage to get through the matchmaking you’ll be able to participate in the Survivor’s Rule and Slayer’s Rule game modes.
Each mode can be played with up to four human players. Slayer’s Rule is a carbon copy of the original Mercenaries mode and the core objective is to score as many points as possible in the allotted time. Kills can be chained together to rack up even more points and taking down tougher enemies gives you more points. Though killing hordes of Majini is the real goal of this mode, players can still be killed by human opponents. This is merely an inconvenience because no points are awarded in Slayer’s Rule for killing humans. This could prompt some players to think in a more strategic manner by assigning one teammate to snuff out human opponents while the other focuses on scoring points. By always including the Majini as a constant threat you almost overlook the ludicrous idea of a deathmatch with RE controls. That is until you play Survivor’s Rule which requires you to kill human opponents to score points.
Survivor’s Rule is purely about killing your fellow humans. Even though the Manjini are still around, killing them won’t afford you any points. Instead each bullet that connects to a human player will score points. The biggest problem with this mode is the awful weapon balance issues. Each character comes with preset weapons and items that can’t be changed. If you wanted to play as Chris and your opponent is Wesker, there is virtually no chance Chris will win in a firefight because Wesker carries the all powerful magnum. Since you still can’t run and shoot this mode gets really unfair really quickly. Anyone who has played long enough to unlock Wesker will not want to play as anyone else because it would be such a massive downgrade. Once again it seems Capcom was going for more of a strategic approach as opposed to a straight up gunfight, but it’s too much to ask from a game with these controls.
If you don’t spring $5 for Versus you won’t be missing out on a great deal. It’s fun but as time goes on you’ll find yourself caring less and less about this mode. Mercenaries is much more fun and that was on the disc for free. At this point I would suggest that $5 go towards something else.
+ Expands existing Resident Evil 5 modes online.
+ Opens up the possibility of facing humans, rather than just Manjini.
+ Adds deeper levels of strategy to the game.
– Awkward controls and variable character strength moots most strategic opportunity.
– Limited replayability.
– At $5 its not really value for money.