Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Taking Zombies out Co-op Style!

With Halloween not too far behind us and me just having finished the Max Brooks’ masterpieces The Zombie Survival Guide and its pseudo-sequel, World War Z, I’ve had zombies on the brain. Since the original Resident Evil and House of the Dead games, zombies have been antagonists and cannon fodder in many a video game since, with gamers having satisfying results killing swarms of undead. (My brother is playing Fallout 3 and tells me one of the cool things about the game is that the mutant enemies look a lot like zombies). And so, with new games coming at us from all sides, it’s inevitable that some of them feature shambling corpses out to eat our brains.

However, this time around, there are a couple offerings that capitalize on what makes zombie movies so awesome: co-operation. What’s cooler than seeing a group of survivors working together to hold their own against onslaught after onslaught of undead? Both Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 5 will feature online co-op for their main games, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Left 4 Dead

In Left 4 Dead you control one of four survivors. Each one has a specialty and team work is desperately needed if you plan to survive the attacks of the undead. You’ll need all the teamwork you can muster, as the zombies in the game are anywhere but in pre-determined locations, allowing you to get used to the scares. No, in Left 4 Dead, zombies manifest randomly in the levels, meaning you’ll never know where or when you’ll be attacked. This is worth the price of admission alone for me. Not only that, zombies are everywhere and can come at you at any minute. Because of this, it’s not a good idea to run and gun carelessly ahead of the group. In L4D, you’ll have to establish team tactics to work through each fight, all the while being careful not to accidentally shoot a fellow survivor. This gets tricky when quarters get tight, like crossing a rope bridge or working your way through derailed subway cars. Teamwork also comes in handy for rescuing beleaguered teammates who are overrun by zombies, or being dragged away by certain members of the undead with enormously long, snakelike tails. You’ll also have to rely on team members for healing, or the occasional pick-me-up. It looks like making it through the game is anything but easy, so it’ll be good to have not only one person watching your back, but three.

Resident Evil 5

While we won’t be seeing RE5 until the middle of March of next year, I know it’s on the top of just about everyone’s “Must Have Games in 2009” list. One of the things that makes RE5 so exciting is that it features online co-op via a partner for Chris Redfield, a woman named Sheva, who can be controlled by another player online. The two will work together in fighting off the “not-quite-zombie” infected townspeople that fill the game. They can do a co-operative attack moves if players can pull off the timing, and also both players will be able to keep track of one another at all times, so if things get too hectic for one of them, coming to help won’t be a scavenger hunt. Keeping each other alive will be essential, as if one of the characters dies, it’s Game Over. Another important aspect of the co-operative play in the game will involve sending one character off to accomplish something to continue progress through the game. For example, there is a part where Chris boosts Sheva across a roof so she can go down and unlock a door from the other side. All the while of course, infected townsfolk are out for blood and the two characters will have to fight them off to succeed, one from a distance, and one up close and personal.

It’s really great to see teamwork aspect of zombie-crisis movies make its way to the interactive medium. The zombie apocalypse is something we definitely shouldn’t face alone, but something friends should join forces to combat, to kill, strategize, and scream with one another!

By the by, the Left 4 Dead demo has just become available online now on Xbox Live, and includes multiplayer. Booyah!


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