Monday, February 2, 2009

Should I Really Play A Cooperative Game Alone?

This a cross-post from my blog over at

So, I've been repeatedly playing the Resident Evil 5 demo, for the better part of last week, with a number of friends on Xbox Live (PS3 owners sit tight, this is your week). Like any critical thinker, I've got plenty of things to criticize point out (both good and bad) from the experience. But this post isn't about that at all.

I've set out to ask one question here: Should I play the retail copy of RE5 alone or with a bro' on coop?

See, here's my dilemma: Whenever I think of my typical Resident Evil experience, its usually hunched over over in front of the TV, alone. That's always been the constant thing that makes sense to me about the series, and its the hardest thing to disassociate from it as well. It's you against the terrifying (or at least creepy looking) world, that and the incessant urge to keep your eyes alert for the nearest zombie/ dog/ spider creature, so you can get a quick shot at it with your pistol. Maybe its an exaggeration to call the Resident Evil universe scary, but the sense of tension (or terror) was always palpable, and the results were fun. You know, kind of like Dead Space.

You can run, but you can't hide from ugly monsters like this

That leads me to the crux of my dilemma: this Resident Evil is a cooperative adventure, with the emphasis specifically placed on gameplay being balanced for two. I love the idea in theory (an that's why I've played so much of the demo, lately) and I love coop experiences in games. I do. That's why Left 4 Dead is among my favorite games, alongside Gears of War 2, Crackdown, and Halo 3. I recognize the impact of a cooperative experience. They're fantastic because of the nature of working together to achieve a goal. Its a combined effort that demands teamwork. But for story driven games like RE 5, I can't help but want to play it alone. I want to absorb every bit of the game. The sights, the sounds, every line of dialogue ( a tad obsessive, I know). And the thought of relying on a partner driven A.I. makes my stomach crawl because as much as we want to believe they can, we know they cannot (Full disclosure: I haven't tried the demo with an A.I. partner yet, either).

The thought of idle chatter from my teammate slightly ruins RE 5 for me because it would pull me out the experience completely when all I want to do is absorb myself in that world. It's the same reason I'm more likely to play a game cooperatively online on my second play-through of a game (the obvious exception being "Left4Dead", a game completely devoid of any story elements whatsoever). Yet, I haven't heard enough anecdotal evidence to suggest if the partner A.I. here is up to snuff.

So, dear readers, how are you planning to play RE 5?

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