In a world where technology is allowing us to become increasingly introverted, yet still retain an air of social community through Facebook, Twitter and smart phones, we’ve lost sight of some of the simple pleasures: having friends round for a binge on Ribena and a WWF Smackdown face-off. Couch multi-player is becoming obsolete as gaming systems progress and are promoting exclusively online multi-player. I’m not convinced this is a good thing.
For many of us (students in particular) who have to endure this harsh economic climate, linking two separate consoles and TVs together via LAN in the living room is unfeasible… but what alternatives are there? Here’s a guide to some of the most recent games where multiplayer options remain like those in the days of Street Fighter.
Released October 4th 2011, id Software. Available on PC, PS3, Xbox 360
From the makers of Quake comes RAGE, a post-apocalyptic shooter. It feels much like id Software’s previous title, but with exceedingly beautiful graphics. The storyline has a very tedious and linear progression: go retrieve this, navigate through this abandoned prison unit whilst killing everything in your path, then go back. The split-screen co-op multiplayer is tiresome and frustrating and you’ll spend a huge soul-destroying part of the game driving across the stunning desert en route to different dungeons, which is ideal for driving-lovers but not for me.
Released June 21st 2011, Warner Brothers. Available on PC, PS3, Xbox 360
This split-screen co-op game continues the psychological horror story of Point Man as he battles through a futuristic doomed existence. The single player option is a complex, thrilling, addictive storyline, which at times can be rather odd. The plot is coloured with twists, jumpy/scary little girls, and a variety of enemies: from zombies to SWAT-like men, big scary Predator robots to weird blue beasts who teleport through walls. The only downsides of the game are the nonsensical twists and it is annoying how hard it can be to keep Point Man ammo’d up, but all-in-all; it was an absolute delight to complete. Hallelujah! The co-op campaign is exactly the same! The second player gets to control Point Man’s brother: Fettel, a character with different abilities.
Rayman: Origins - 60%
Released November 15th 2011, UbiSoft. Available on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Continuing the cult classic saga Rayman comes Rayman: Origins. The co-op option far surpasses the single player, and was marketed for the multi-playing lover. As expected from UBiSoft, the graphics are innovative and creatively fun and the gameplay doesn’t differ from the classic idea of saving little creatures from evil with fast paced jumping and sliding. It is a pleasure to play although not much brainpower is required and the difficulty and repetition can get frustrating. It’s a good game for what it is, but personally I didn’t find it particularly original to play, saying that though, would be a good party game, but nowhere near as fun as the co-op on the Little Big Planet series.
Portal 2 - 80%
Released 19th April 2011, Electronic Arts. Available on PC, Mac, PS3, Xbox 360
When The Orange Box was released four years ago, Portal’s mind-bending, unexpected plot twists, hilarious dialogue was impressive, so much that most players thought the game was too short. Therefore, the hype for Portal 2 was huge, and seeing the finished results, justified. The co-op campaign is more complex and set after the events in the single-player part, starring a pair of adorable robots who have to save a bunch of humans trapped in a vault. The puzzles you must complete in order to navigate through the game start out simple enough and ease into the more difficult ‘my brain hurts’ type. There are some great features available on co-op: the ability to see what your networked robot is seeing, which allows a more enjoyable, inter-connected feel. I’d recommend this as a means to get away from all the shooter-war games, which are all too common now.
I hope that this brief guide proves that there is still a viable market for offline multiplayer games, especially with couch potatoes such as myself. Hopefully in the future we’ll still get the chance to have a good old fashioned communal romp together on the Playstation!