Mulitplayer gaming usually boils down to a few different formulae. There’s one on one, which sees two characters battle it out face to face. Co-op allows you to team up with your friends to destroy computer controlled opponents. There are also team based modes in which you and a team of others fight a full on war with rival team of players. These are some of the biggest styles of multiplayer gaming. If you’re playing with the right sort of people, these modes can be amazing fun.
I’ve always enjoyed co-op gaming. There’s something about working together with a handful of friends for a common cause that really appeals to me. Back in the days of the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, I’d spend hours playing side scrolling beat’em-ups this way. SNES had a few great titles in this respect too, Super Double Dragon being one of i’s stand outs, but for this particular genre, the Megadrive really held all of the cards. Golden Axe was one of the heavy hitters here. Featuring two and a half playable characters and pitting them against armies of undead skeletons, armoured knights, and barbarians in a cheesy medieval setting. This one had it all! Just in case this wasn’t Heavy Metal enough already, you could even ride around on the back on dragons and summon all manner of D&D style magic spells. Golden Axe was immense fun, but that fun was amplified even further when you added in a second player. Teaming up with your best friend to defeat Death Adder’s evil armies was amazing! Suddenly, the amount of strategies and tactics that could be applied in game doubled. You could now gang up on opponents, bait them into dangerous positions and have your teammate attack them from behind, or indulge in a spot of opponent swapping to keep two enemies floored as you constantly switch positions using the sprint attack like a well coreographed wrestling match.
Not all co-op games consist of battering bad guys though. Some put a real twist on a concept that’s as old as gaming itself. Portal 2 is a great co-op title that really puts a spin on the idea. Instead of going toe to toe with wicked hordes, it has you and your friend pitted against your worst enemies... yourselves! Portal’s second title sees you trapped within various rooms, in which you must complete mind-boggling puzzles in order to escape into the next even more complex room. You’re not armed with broadswords and broken bottles here. Instead, you’ve got nothing on your side but than your own wits and science, yo! Both you and your partner have a portal gun which can be used to place portals into walls, floors, or ceilings, letting you pass through them and pop out of another one like a bad cartoon. This can lead to some real brain busting bouts of confusion. Pshyics and logical thinking can really be motherfuckers at times. Add to this then, a friend of your’s who can pack another two portals and the moist, delicious shitcake really hits the fan. I’ve only played this in co-op mode a handful of times, but the results are always the same- uncontrollable laughter coupled together with the urge to strangle my friend for not understanding my amazingly complicated plans which I’m alway absolutely adamant will work. Although, he knows full well they won’t.
Of course, that’s just one side of the multiplayer coin. The other is VS modes which are designed to test your skills against your friend’s and turn you all into temporary opponents. Playing this way calls for a completely different way of thinking. The last thing you want to do here is help your once-upon-a-time partner out. Instead, the plan is to mercilessly crush them to prove your superiority. Fighting games would probably be the most raw example of this particular play style. Two characters stand a foot or two apart, staring into each other’s eyes, and when the bell rings they proceed to kick the living shite out of one another until there’s only one left standing. It’s almost primal in many repsects. Caveman-ing the face off your opponent through pshyical combat for no other reason than to prove that you can. It sounds vicious, and I guess it can be. However, it’s just as much fun and as engaging as co-op modes. Whether or not you’re finding yourself at the busniess end off a beating doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. It really is the taking part that counts here. Although your aim is to flatten you mate like a kung fu pancake, it’s always fun just being in the fight. Sussing each other out, playing mind games, trying to out smart them as much as out play them; it all adds up to having a great time.
I love spending time playing video games with my friends and family though, and the couch is a big part of it. Whether we’re fighting together for the greater good or battering the bejaysus out of each other, video games are amazing fun when played with friends. I could never calculate the amount of time I’ve spent teaming up with the boys playing Left 4 Dead in a desperate sturggle for survival, or being severely mean to them while playing Mashed: Fully Loaded because I’m a complete prick. Good friends and good times go hand in hand, and video games that are made to be played together can often create these good times. TowerFall: Ascension, Cyborg Justice, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Eco Fighters, Mario Kart, Tekken, Smash TV, any WWE game, House of The Dead, Metal Slug, these titles are just the tip of the iceberg lettuce when it comes to having fun together. Cracking jokes, telling tales, and laughing like The Joker while knee deep in one of our favourite games, that’s just as good a time, if not better, than heading to the pub and having a few pints. It’s all about the atmosphere in which you play. We play in a fun enviroment filled with coffee and music, sitting side by side and simply enjoying each other’s company. It’s just good old fashioned entertainment, and it always gives us something to talk about too as it creates hilarious memories. Hell, I’d even go as far as saying that it’s Hype, except that still makes abolustely no fucking sense.