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Whose co-op is best?

The Players: Eric, Paul, Joe, Mikel, Brett

Basic Intel: Resistance 2 features 8 player co-op and is a PS3 exclusive. It was developed by Insomniac for Sony.

Joe: Resistance 2’s co-op features relentless waves of Chimera requiring flawless teamwork to survive.

Mikel: Yeah, we had to constantly stick together - even one or two people striking off on their own usually meant we all died in seconds.

Brett: Steep learning curve, assumes you're already familiar with the roles.

Joe:...and familiar with the maps. You instantly die on your ass, no ramping up at all.

Eric:Yeah. That game, more than most, requires coordination and communication. If nobody can hear the other guy, you're meat.

Brett:And despite the promise of "goals" and "missions" it was mostly just shoot shoot shoot shoot push this thing shoot shoot shoot.

Above: Shoot shoot shoot

Eric: I actually didn't mind all the shooting. But your point about the roles is well made. There are three classes, and each has a VERY specific role.

Mikel: We did have to yell at the Soldiers a couple of times to encourage more tank-like behavior. When you guys started out, you were all darting around and being impossible to hide behind.

Brett: Because we didn't know the roles. I shot countless medics and spec ops who ran into my line of fire. It's very hectic and friendly fire is hard to avoid.

Joe: Also, the shield recharge time was brutal. When it ran out, you had to shuck and jive to stay alive.

Mikel: That's fair. There didn't seem to be any sort of tutorial.

Paul: They also included eight players for a reason – we could have used the extra 3 guys.

Mikel: Yeah, I didn't get the impression that the game scales its difficulty based on the number of players. Or if it does, that it's impossibly brutal.

Brett: However, once we got it all down, I had a decent time with it. It's no Horde mode, but still mindless fun.

Joe: At the end of a match, I invariably noticed that the support players had way more points than the soldiers, even though the soldiers were racking up tons more kills than everyone else.

Mikel:Because we racked up experience for helping out other players, PLUS we got kill points.

Above: A typical scene from Resistance 2 co-op

Paul:Once I figured out how to give out ammo it was kind of an endless EXP dump. But it would have been nice to have some kind of indicator of how much ammo you guys had left, other than someone yelling at me from across the office.

Mikel:Ditto for healing.

Brett:And as a soldier, I was baffled by how many direct head shots the enemies could take. I would unload entire clips into their face, directly in front of me, and no death. Bluntly, the whole experience, while fun, felt far from on par with what Gears 2 brings.

Joe: As the other soldier, I never felt there was much weight to the heavy machine gun or to grenade blasts. The weightlessness was reinforced by the ineffectiveness of the weapons.

Brett: Yeah the weapons did feel light, everything felt empty and hollow with no physical existence. Maybe that changes with leveling up?

Paul: The spec-ops could do some damage but I still felt delicate, which kept me close to a soldier whenever possible.

Eric:What else would we have liked to see other than the shooting?

Brett:I would have liked varied goals, hold this position, rescue this VIP, something to make me feel like I'm in an actual war, not just push to the next checkpoint.

Eric:Urgh. Escort missions with that level of enemy saturation sound like hell. But to be fair, there were "hold this postition" objectives.

Brett:Well I think the co-op behaves like a bonus mode and won't be as fulfilling or engrossing as the solo, where they probably spent a lot of time creating set pieces and big action moments.

Paul: I played through the single player so I was expecting a lot, but there was a serious lack of enemy diversity and the graphics quality went WAY down for multiplayer. I guess that's necessary if you're going to squeeze in 8 guys.

Joe: Yes, I was disappointed with the graphics too. Visually, they just covered up the bland, uninspired environs and chunky textures with big glowy laser bursts and balls of light and electricity flying everywhere – almost impossible to tell what was going on, so I’d just point my gun into the stew and wait for the reticule to turn red.

Above: Can’t see the enemy? Just wait for the reticule to turn red

Brett: The graphics taking a hit did bother me. This is PlayStation 3, it's expensive, the user wants to constantly feel like their purchase was warranted. 8-player or whatever is nice, but if 4 player with amazing graphics would have worked, that sounds better to me.

Paul: I will give them credit for forcing us to work together as a team. I thought that was one of the strongest parts of the game, but I might be too afraid to play with random people online.

Joe: When I played with random people online, we plowed through levels really fast. They were all leveled up and knew the maps and objectives by rote, but the same uninspiring design choices reigned. Once people had dialed in their roles, there wasn't much challenge. Huge alien monsters would appear, and you'd basically just stand there and blast it in the head. It would barely move to defend itself or offer any... resistance.

Eric: Yeah, that's one thing I noticed - once you can anticipate the ambushes and event triggers, it gets a bit easier. But I disagree that strategy isn't important. There are areas full of flanking opportunities and crossfire threats.

Mikel: I really liked the teamwork aspect, and the fact that we had to group up tightly in order to survive; it made me feel like an integral part of a team.

Eric: Agreed. And I never felt particularly safe or powerful, so it stayed tense.

Joe: I found that sometimes it was best for us to alternate using our shields, especially in areas where we had to push ahead into an area where enemies were heavily entrenched.

Eric: Maybe that's why the shield recharge time is so long.

Joe: Paul, what did single player have that you wish was in co-op?

Paul: The biggest thing was the diversity of weapons and enemies, though leveling up more in co-op would have yielded more loadouts. I also missed the sense of scale in some of the bosses.

Brett: Gears co-op is the same game, Halo 3 co-op is the same game, why couldn't Resistance 2 co-op be the same game?

Paul: Yeah, the character classes had nothing to do with the single player game at all.

Eric: It would be harder to do co-op in Resistance from a story perspective. It's almost like two separate games that just happen to use some of the same elements because there's only one person as powerful as the main character. In Gears, you're all just soldiers, and Halo 3 has added all the aliens with their regenerating stuff JUST like the chief's armor.

Brett: I don't mind the roles themselves, it just seemed to ruthless too fast.

Joe: In Gears 2’s Horde, or CoD’s Nazi Zombies, you can run around all maverick in the early levels but as the waves get stronger you have to tighten up and play as a team. R2 forces that coordinated team play from the get-go.

Mikel: That's another thing - they kept talking about how you could collect Gray Tech and give yourself awesome sci-fi armor and equipment, but then we only found about 4... units of it or whatever, during hours of play, and it takes about 50 to get your first armor upgrade.

Above: Golden Grims, oh those Golden Grims! Crispy, crunchy Grim cereal, brand new breakfast treat!!

Joe: That's a lot of effort to get your leveling on. CoD's leveling system is much more refined - quicker rewards early on, then you can settle in for the long haul in the upper levels.

Brett: You collect experience faster too. Respawn, respawn, respawn.

Mikel: And that's how it SHOULD be, dammit - hook 'em early on. None of this, "Well, you're new, so you have to kill rabbits and rats and things OH WAIT THERE'S NONE OF THAT KABLOW PSSSH BOOM YOU'RE DEAD NOW."

Joe: R2’s respawn was like 30 seconds. I guess that forces the medic to earn his keep.

Eric: I see your point - that upgrades should happen faster. I'd like to get us all up to level ten and see how the experience changes.

Mikel: Yeah, the Phoenix - that medical-laser thing - didn't do a lot of damage, but I don't think it was really meant to. It's just to suck up life energy and redistribute it to allies. On the other hand, when I earned a carbine, I felt like I was able to dish out some serious head trauma. The problem with switching to the carbine is that, once the action gets thick enough to justify its use, your allies tend to die quickly if you're not healing them constantly.

Brett: For the soldier, too, the alternate shotgun did feel stronger than the starting heavy gun, which is really bizarre when it belches bullets like a ... chain gun.

Mikel: Also? As the host, I REALLY would have liked it if there had been an option to just start over from the beginning of the level, instead of having to set up a new game every damn time we all died.

Eric: I totally agree with that point, Mikel. That was annoying.

Mikel: And the "party" system the game uses caused a lot of confusion until we figured out what we were doing.

Above: Make sure your shield has plenty of charge before advancing

Paul: I do have to say, even though we're pointing out a lot of what could have been better, I did have a good time playing and I liked the challenge of having to play a role on a team. I can see that they were trying to make a challenging co-op campaign that's about co-op and they do a good job in a lot of ways. I liked the upgrades (even though they were too slow), I liked being forced to work together and I liked having different objectives (even if they were mostly to guard an area or locate a switch).

Mikel: Yeah. Overall I had a lot of fun with it. Very intense, lots of "OH SHIT" moments and playing as a medic was really enjoyable.

Eric: I agree. It required a lot more awareness and thought than most shooters.

Joe: It grew on me too, eventually, but with so many other co-op options that are so much easier to get into, I'd have trouble justifying playing it more.

Mikel: If you only had a PS3, though, what then?

Eric: It's this or Call of Duty.

Mikel: Or Saints Row 2.

Joe: You know what the PS3 really needs? Left 4 Dead.