There must have been some multiplayer design summit that our renowned game developers attended a few years ago. Where else could so many devs get the bright idea to throw our new favorite cannon fodder - the zombie (sorry Nazis) - into multiplayer slaughter modes? Not that we’re opposed to the idea at all. We hate zombies! Many GR staffers constantly live in fear of being snacked to death by the corpses of old family members.
Amusing anecdotes aside, shooting zombies is a lot of fun. But slaying the undead with friends and strangers alike is absurdly awesome. As you know, Resident Evil 5 lumbers into stores this week and fans of RE4 will appreciate the return of the arcade-y unlockable Mercenaries mode. And with the recent invasion of similar zombie-themed modes, we thought we’d compare them all to a degree and assign an arbitrary rating depending on how much we like them. Let’s start with:
If you missed out on RE4, then you’ve never experienced the fun, yet punishing Mercs mode. In a nutshell, you choose one of five characters with varying weapon sets and run through different themed-stages, racking up combo kills. The intensity comes from not only the multitude of Ganados (Spanish zombie-things) - everything from simple baddies to the chainsaw-wielders - but also your race against the clock to kill everything in sight as quickly as possible.
Mercs in RE5 is essentially the same mode, but with co-op split screen. Select a character - more unlocked when you find collectibles in the campaign - and rack up as many points as possible. The more points you have, the more likely you are to unlock the next stage. Read all about it in our RE5 super review.
These jerks are intense. They run, dodge attacks, and lunge after you in groups. Some even sprout parasites randomly from their blown-off heads and even attack with explosives, chainsaws and miniguns. Your best strategy is to keep moving and lump kills with explosive barrels or grenades. Our favorite moments are when we pop a zom in the leg and he gets all stunned. Then we run up to him and uppercut him into a wall with Chris’s roided-out biceps. Or when you stun a zom and Chris AND Sheva run up for a double melee-attack. Damn, we’re cool.
To be fair, the entirety of Left 4 Dead is about killing zombies in multiplayer… and it’s awesome. We don’t care how you play it: Steam, 360, real life, just play the game that’s shallowly described as Counter-Strike with zombies. One session and you wouldn’t think twice about gunning down the living-impaired once the real zombie apocalypse graces us. But this new survival mode - scheduled for release this spring on Steam and Xbox Live - cleverly mixes up the L4D formula and adds a thick layer of insanity.
As detailed in our latest hands-on, survival strips out the long stages of the campaign and places you squarely in those Crescendo/Finale segments of L4D. Y’know, the parts you trigger and hold your Last Stand against a plethora of walking corpses. Taking place over 16 maps - 15 of which are from the main game and featuring the brand-new Lighthouse map - you fight not for score, but to best your previous time. And with multiple special Infected - how does two Tanks at the same time sound? - we doubt you’ll live past a few minutes.
You ever play Left 4 Dead? The entire game is a mess of “holy crap” moments in the best and worst ways. Best because L4D does a stellar job of keeping the tension high through its “Director” (named for the AI which calculates in real-time when and how many zombies to throw at you depending on how well you’re doing). How many times have you scouted ahead of your buddies, only to be ravaged in a bottleneck by scores of zombies? And at its absolute worst, L4D makes you realize just how useless you’ll be in a zombie holocaust.