Love In The Time Of Las Plagas

Image "enhancement" by Shawn Andrich.

"We are strong, no one can tell us we're wrong. / Searching our hearts for so long, both of us knowing..."
- Pat Benatar, "Love Is A Battlefield"

Our boat stops in front of a corroded, blood-red gate. The pilot, a West African military man with at least a full clip of ammo strapped to his hip, explains that Shawn and I need to exit this increasingly unsafe vessel, navigate our way through a mindless horde of infectious monsters (and two giant turrets), then flip two switches at the same time before we continue.

He does not offer to help.

We mantle up the side of the pier and take cover behind a couple of large crates, upon which sits ammunition for a handgun. Immediately the bickering begins.

Shawn and I didn't plan to play Resident Evil 5 together. It'd come up during instant messages meant to distract one another from the grind of our days, but it wasn't until the disc was spinning in my drive that the concept of a professional partnership took hold. It was also never our intention to play it all weekend, well into the night, or to take it quite so seriously. Sometimes Fate just brings people together, however briefly. After four days of running, shouting, shooting and swearing, we weren't quite sure which had captivated us more: the heart-shocking terror of RE5, or our own personal bromance. Both were equally epic.

As much as I love co-op, there aren't a lot of people I can play these games with. It's not a reclusive thing: I consider myself a fairly social person, with a full Friend's List and a multitude of people in my life with whom to play games. I've been in guilds, clans, parties and what was once ironically described as a "murder" of Diablo 2 players. Most of these groups fell apart in a burst of interpersonal drama and conflict, power struggles and petty bickering. Little actual cooperation was involved. But solving a game's puzzles in an immediate and enjoyable manner requires a certain chemistry: a compatibility in thinking and play styles, and a sizable amount of communication.

Not unlike marriage, I've heard.

We begin adopting roles from the beginning. I commit my Sheva to bringing the heavy heat to our fights and outfit her with an assortment of machine guns and explosives. In contrast, Shawn turns into a giggling child when we discover the first sniper rifle in the game. The sheer joy he gets from popping a zombie's head off its shoulders, gore spewing from the open hole, is as infectious as the virus that created them. No matter what, he wants the headshot. He lives for the headshot. Even if it means some giant infection tentacle will take that head's place and beat me to near-death. He might even enjoy that part more.

Those roles extend even further. The longer we play, the more we realize that my Oscar and his Felix need each other to survive. I want to run into the middle of a horde and experiment with the game's melee mechanics. He prefers to sit back and watch me fail. One endgame encounter involves shooting a boss in the chest, then getting close enough to yank a gem out of the gaping wound. Shawn can't get close enough to pull on the gem without getting smacked, but my Quick-Time Event-fu is strong.

We also find ourselves approaching the game's traps as a team. During a sequence in an oil refinery, a crazed zombie with a sack on its head leaps down into the locked room I'm in. After a couple of horrific deaths wherein I am introduced to the business end of a chainsaw, we work out a strategy. Of course, that strategy involves me running around distracting the zombie while Shawn plays the hero and snipes him repeatedly, but we eventually kill the bastard. Point is, we work together rather well.

Finding the right partner is the hardest part. I don't want to be tethered to John Rambo, running through the tribal villages, bogarting all the grenades and leaving me in the dust. At the same time, I don't want to be saddled with a sidekick who misses every shot and blows through my precious ammo and medkits.

I need a partner who is as interested in pacing and exploration as they are in lighting a zombie rush on fire. I can't imagine playing through with someone who wants to finish as fast as possible, and I certainly won't play all the way through with a stranger. I need a partner that won't drive me crazy.

After 11 hours, a few epic boss fights and an awful lot of gore, I found Resident Evil 5 to be more about teamwork and cooperation than any other recent game. Capcom's gamble on co-op mechanics lead to a game I'd have otherwise ignored, and certainly wouldn't have played myself. I don't see myself doing another run through, but I'll always have those memories of me and Shawn, locked and loaded, eradicating the zombie menace one gratifying headshot at a time.

We'll always have Kijuju.

Comments

Considering how tactical a game RE4 was, it's no surprise some of that survived into 5.

I played through the original Doom co-operatively with two of my cousins and my older brother, and it both soured me to and made me love co-op play. When the four of us clicked, we really clicked; we could clear boss encounters and death traps with ease, the four of us working in tandem to distract and destroy the dreaded Cyberdemons, and it was amazing. However, just as often our games devolved into petty squabbles over whether or not someone should have picked up a health kit, who should have been more careful with his rockets, and who needed to keep up with the rest of the group. Whenever I think about playing something like Left 4 Dead, I think about those games of Doom and feel both desire and hesitation.

Good article, Cory. That's a disturbing graphic, though.

Very cool.

You'll always have Paris.

Yeah, this sounds great. I've got RE5 sitting at home collecting dust. I tried jumping in with a co-op partner I met through Live and I enjoy playing with, but there were just too many things going on in his Gaming Life.

We continually were invited to someone else's party where all sorts of things were being discussed: Left4Dead over GameBattles, general Live talk about nothing, SPOILERS(!) for RE5... It was all just too much. My partner and I couldn't communicate because of the chittering and his attention was being demanded from too many directions to ignore. There was no suspense, everything was broken by jack-@$$-chatter.

I had previously played about 5-10 minutes single player and decided I couldn't play the game by myself. The AI was just too annoying. It was the little things that got to me. Especially the way Sheva would shout when I requested her presence even though the situation was calm. Stop shouting Sheva... I'm standing right here!

Anyway, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to play through the game now. I'd like a co-op partner who hasn't already played through the game so it's fresh for both of us, and someone who I feel is simpatico with me, but my only friend on Live who I've been friends with for years in person just smokes too much to be a reliable co-op partner. I learned that the hard way in Gears. I can only sit for so long on a pause screen while someone goes to get a sandwich. And then starts the whole "process" over again.

I appreciate what Capcom was working for with the co-op, but it also makes the game near unplayable for me unless I can stumble into an ideal situation.

I need a partner that won't drive me crazy.

Wow, a Pat Benetar reference and a John Mellencamp reference all in one article.

I think I can see what you mean here. What you're saying is that you and Shawn get together because opposites attract. And that you don't like playing co-op with someone who will run, run so far away, but after a good time playing this game, you bless the rains down in Africa.

Switchbreak wrote:

I think I can see what you mean here. What you're saying is that you and Shawn get together because opposites attract? That you don't like playing co-op with someone who will run, run so far away? That after a good time playing this game, you bless the rains down in Africa?

I think that's exactly what he's saying.

This is so damn funny, and now that you've set it up, I keep seeing thinly veiled romance in every phrase. You don't want someone who bogarts all the grenades? What could that mean? Yanking a gem out of a gaping wound together - is that second base?

Nyles wrote:

This is so damn funny, and now that you've set it up, I keep seeing thinly veiled romance in every phrase. You don't want someone who bogarts all the grenades? What could that mean? Yanking a gem out of a gaping wound together - is that second base?

If you've seen that part of the game, you'll know I was rounding third.

I'd love to play RE5 with someone, but it seems like no one has a PS3 + RE5 + free time.

I've been playing the game as if it were single player, with Sheva being the mule and myself all the firepower. She takes enemies down with machine guns well enough.

Well, I will be purchasing Mr. Demiurge's copy of RE5 so if my experience is not IDENTICAL to this, I will be demanding my money back.

I'm not sure you're invited to my house anymore. At least, not to sit on the same couch with my son playing Geometry Wars.

Mister Magnus wrote:

We continually were invited to someone else's party where all sorts of things were being discussed: Left4Dead over GameBattles, general Live talk about nothing, SPOILERS(!) for RE5... It was all just too much. My partner and I couldn't communicate because of the chittering and his attention was being demanded from too many directions to ignore. There was no suspense, everything was broken by jack-@$$-chatter.

This is the reason that I avoid Parties unless it's all for the same game (and then, only the right kind of game, like SF4).

If you ever need a partner Magnus, I'll gladly play through with you. I have finished it once already, but I think I have enough self control to not spoil, or hand-hold you through the whole thing.

Awesome article. This is what I play co-op games for. I never played Gears single player, unless if it was to just find some collectible thing. If I want single player, I've got Fallout 3 or Oblivion. I play games like RE5 specifically to have the enjoyment of running and gunning through hordes of enemies with a buddy. I count myself lucky to have an old college friend who I play all these games with, and it's simply fantastic.

I had the exact same dynamic playing through the Halo trilogy. I was the juggernaught with shotgun, rifle and sword, while my friend fought with the finesse of a sniper rifle/rocket launcher combo. I was a bit slower than him, but he killed me at random intervals, so it was about even.

Psst Cory. Going by the article photo, you better work on them man-boobs.

Flys might be good for tightening things up.

Has anyone played the splitscreen Co-op? I read it has the staggered smaller viewing windows. My first experience with this 'trend' was in CoD WaW. I found it really difficult to see. I understand the sacrifice of usable screen real-estate probably allows them to keep their full perspective ratio-wise for each player.. but everything got so mall. I have a 40/41 inch LCD tv and it annoyed the heck out of me.

I love my singleplayer RPG experiences, but my god do I have a ton of fun playing co-op. Playing with a friend, ideally in the same room, laughing and yelling through the whole thing. Gears of War 2 and Terrorist Hunt in Vegas 2 really showed me that again.

And all the latent homosexual tension finally bubbles to the surface on the front page.

ahrezmendi wrote:

Awesome article. This is what I play co-op games for.

Interesting.

Nyles wrote:

Yanking a gem out of a gaping wound together

Romancing the Stone

MeatMan wrote:
Nyles wrote:

Yanking a gem out of a gaping wound together

Romancing the Stone

Bromancing the Stone. C'mon, that one was a gimme.

Hey, leave me the hell out of this!

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Hey, leave me the hell out of this!

Aw, c'mon baby. Don't be like that.

Demiurge wrote:
Nyles wrote:

This is so damn funny, and now that you've set it up, I keep seeing thinly veiled romance in every phrase. You don't want someone who bogarts all the grenades? What could that mean? Yanking a gem out of a gaping wound together - is that second base?

If you've seen that part of the game, you'll know I was rounding third.

I should be jealous...but at least I got to watch

Demiurge should keep a distance of at least 100 meters between him and the nearest Photoshop. That picture is giving me the creeps!

I have such a gaming bromance with a friend of mine. We have been playing games together and against eachother for about 9 years now. We work as a team in any game without even trying. I usually know where he is even if all the character models are the same.