Daily Archives: May 5, 2011

Cooperative Gaming

Oh, the wonders of modern age gaming!

Having played and spent quite a while in alternate, virtual worlds, I currently thoroughly enjoy the fact that games have a starting point and finally (often also unfortunately) a point where they simply end. What lies between these two points can last from a few hours to over a hundred hours. But still, it is not endless. Games like <insert here the name of your favourite MMORPG> are perhaps a bit too time-consuming and addictive for my taste. In addition, those places are filled with people who are way too young to speak properly and also to understand that bad equipment does not explicitly mean that the player has no skill whatsoever.

Then again, social gaming is a lot about who you play with. Playing split-screen cooperatively¬† on the same console is simply a lot of fun. Feedback and emotions are expressed spontaneously and instantaneously. Unfortunately it is not always a possibility to have a LAN party (which is arguably the best form of gaming), but cooperation comes pretty close. I would most likely rather stay inside on a sunny day and fight off all those invasions of alien lifeforms with my best friend. Sounds like my kind of good time! Back in the Baldur’s Gate era it was even fun to play singleplayer games with friends. It sure is a shame that there has not been much of that lately. Even in the virtual world, I will rather stick with players I “know” to some extent.

There is a clear distinction between cooperative and other multiplayer games. Working in cooperation means working together towards a common goal. So, it is not enough to merely have two players bashing the hell out of each other – unless, of course, there is a somewhat reasonable plot there somewhere that explains all of that. That being said, there are some excellent single-console multiplayer games, such as the whole Soul Calibur series, which simply belong to a different category altogether.

I can forgive a lot of shortcomings in case a game offers some sort of cooperative gameplay. It does not matter if the plot is full of holes and nonsense (kind of like Lost Planet 2 and Borderlands), as long as it is fun to play together. Sometimes controls (have you ever dashed in the wrong direction by accident in Gears of War?) and difficulty levels (the game being way too easy, like Borderlands) may cause some trouble. In the end, it is all about how the game nurtures your teamwork. It seems that the game industry has also noticed the rise in interest in cooperative gaming as there has been quite a plethora of quality cooperation available on consoles for the past few years.

Luckily gaming skill is really not an issue (though it might limit the spectrum of available games) as you can normally compensate for that by lowering the difficulty setting. Naturally, people tend to have different tastes in games and some sort of compromise might be required. Of course, there are games such as Super Mario Galaxy 2 that are, at least for the most part, universally designed for anyone. Be wary though: in case you play games, but do not like SMG2, you just might have a defective brain.

To mention a few of the best ones I have come across so far:

  • Doom – probably my first cooperative game, worked quite well over a serial cable
  • System Shock 2 – excellent cooperative mode to defeat the lovely (though crazy) Shodan
  • Dungeon Siege – a Diablo-like hack’n’slash with experience and weapons, need I say more?
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Las Vegas 2 – terrorist hunt sure is fun
  • Gears of War 2 – the sheer amount of action is almost overwhelming
  • Splosion Man – an easy-going arcade game with some great puzzles and playability up to four people

A good source for a lot of reviews on co-op games would be Co-Optimus. My advice is that next time you play a game, grab a friend along just for the heck of it. As always, it is wonderful weather for gaming!

– Joona

PS. I can hardly wait for the co-op action that Dungeon Siege 3 and Gears of War 3 will most likely provide once they come out.