Monday, March 17, 2008

Cooperation is the New Black

Over the last few weeks, I've been in the middle of the spring gaming glut. I know, there is no spring gaming glut - except there is. Games that got overlooked during or delayed during the holidays are hitting shelves (or hitting shelves cheap), and I've got more on my plate than I have time. Two games that I've been playing a little of recently are Burnout: Paradise and Army of Two.

Now, the notion that co-op games are awesome is so old that it's hardly worth mentioning. But between Rock Band, Army of Two, and Burnout: Paradise, what's clear to me is that games that involve social cooperation/collaboration are absolutely here to stay - not as a fad, or a feature, but as an entire genre of gaming. It used to be single player or two-player, back in the day of games like Contra and Ikari Warriors. Then, for a good long while it became single player or competitive multiplayer, and the cooperative, social nature of games was shelved for a while. Now that it's back, I can't imagine letting it fall by the wayside again.

There's something deeply satisfying about saving a fallen bandmember in Rock Band, or hitting that last note and getting the bonus. There's a lot of communication involved in synchronizing barrel rolls in Burnout, or trading aggro in Army of Two. Yes, you get it in team-based competition, but the shift towards one-on-one cooperation creates a much more personal dynamic that's been missing in games for a while.

Any other co-op experiences like this I've been missing?

Army of Two: B/80 (not very far in, very limited multiplayer experience)
Burnout: Paradise: B/95
Rock Band: A/100


Office Overlord said...

As one of the (increasing) number of lucky folks whose spouse will play video games with him, I couldn't be more excited about this trend. LEGO Star Wars, X-Men Legends, and even Gauntlet have provided hours of family bonding time that don't require exposure to sunlight or Cosmo quizzes. Maybe it's just because I lose a lot, but I've always greatly preferred co-op multiplayer to competitive.

One thing I don't like, though, is the increasing frequency of online-only multiplayer. It's ludicrous to take a system designed for four controllers and make three of them completely worthless for portions of the game.

Seppo said...

Yeah, online-only is definitely frustrating. It's not super-often that people come over and play, but the in-person nature of a game like Rock Band is incredible. I think Live is one of the best things to ever happen to games, but the best times I've had playing have been playing with people side-by-side on the couch (or jumping in the air thrashing on plastic guitars).

Seppo said...

Finished Army of Two single player, played through most of the 2nd mission on Professional with a friend, and with the same friend played some of the adversarial multiplayer.

Fun stuff. The writing in the story mode is really, really bad - disjointed, nonsensical, and the main characters are basically really unlikeable. There are a few moments of genuinely good voice acting - mostly when the characters are "downed" that are believable, and evoke a sense of sympathy from the player.

But for each of those moments, there are dozens where your character says something so monumentally stupid that it completely breaks the illusion of immersion.

Still while single player's a sort of blah shooter, playing the game with a friend and really using the Aggro system a lot is really good fun. I'm actually really interested in seeing what they do with Army of Two 2 (Army of Three?) - the mechanics are sound - it just needs a better story and better characters.

B/80, same as the earlier score. Could move even higher if the adversarial multiplayer has legs.

Next up, who knows? Mass Effect DLC? Medal of Honor: Airborne? Sega Rally Revo? Project Silpheed? Could be almost anything.

dr-tectonic said...

EDF 2017 is probably my favoritest-ever multiplayer co-op. Mostly, it's just that two can blow up giant bugs twice as fast as one. But as I think about it, there are other things that work well co-op.

The stages are large, and the two players are totally independent. Providing cover fire becomes important on the harder levels. There's also choosing complementary weapons load-out. And it's pretty easy to find a stage that's got the right difficulty for how skilled you are and what mood you're in. And once you've played through once, you can pick whatever stages you want, in whatever order. You can play in small chunks. *And* it even has versus mode, if you're feeling competitive.