The Joy Of Co-Op

Being a bandwagon-examining, trend-dissecting, zeitgeist-exorcising journalist of the gaming bent, it was only a matter of time before I dragged together some kind of verbal flotsam to examine the phenomenon of co-op gaming a little more closely. And so I did, in the form of this highly commended PC Gamer feature article.

It contains literary treasure such as this:

The lesson for Smith’s Midway team was that two heads aren’t necessarily better than one when you’re trying to balance a complex action game for play. “It’s about tuning,” says Harvey. “It affects everything from how hard it is to play, to how many enemies you can get on screen. It even affects the fiction. It’s a fun part of the game though, so I hope it works in the right way.”

Alas, as it turned out, it was too tricky for even Mr Smith. Co-operative play was dropped from BlackSite just weeks before our review.

Of course, there may have been a few other factors at play there too… but I think the point stands.

Additionally, I’d like to say that, although no other RPSer seems to think it much cop, Rainbow Six Vegas was a mighty entertaining co-op game. While all eyes might have been on the Gears Of War and Halo 3 co-op experiences this year, there were plenty of others, such as Vegas, that got it bang on. More of that sort of thing, please Developers.


  1. Alec Meer says:

    I really dug Vegas co-op, actually. You just probably couldn’t hear me say so over the others’ whining.

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    They are very loud.

  3. Stuart White says:

    I still remember the delights of Hidden & Dangerous co-op. I dont think ive seen such a wonderfully suited multiplayer co-op so under-lauded.

    Also some multiplayer mods for Baldur’s Gate 2. Never has a game struck me as so single player and yet proved me wrong so dramatically. I actually enjoyed playing it with a friend more than solo. Perhaps it is tribute to the dedication of some fans to get that working at all.

  4. Butler says:

    Co-op is where it’s at! I didn’t play Gears, Halo 3 or Vegas single player /at all/ because of it.

    Interestingly, with reguards to PCs, co-operative play in the traditional sense (aka sharing a screen) isn’t viable. Of course on consoles it’s all online platforms like PSN and XBL nowadays though.

    So why don’t PC developers make such games? I can’t remember the last co-operative game I played on PC… Diablo 2? :/

  5. Jonathan Burroughs says:

    SWAT 4.

  6. dartt says:

    I hardly played Vegas outside of COOP, I missed the ability to control a squad but it was great fun arranging assaults with stevetheblack.

    Our big coop games this year have been NWN2 and playing Company of Heroes against the AI which is funny because the first is singleplayer with friends and the other is multiplayer without an enemy.

    Left 4 Dead is supposed to come out early this year, I think it’s going to be big.

  7. Nallen says:

    Played loads of Vegas co-op with my brother, shame its net code was so buggy cause my mate wanted to play it with us as well.

    I know it’s hard to balance but I wish more games had the bare functionality there so you could make your own fun. I’ve only been waiting for HL2 co-op for oh, what is it? 2 years now? rubbish.

  8. malkav11 says:

    There’s at least one, possibly more than one, mods that add co-op to HL2.

    But there’s never really been any point in the game or episodes where it would have made much sense to have co-op play from a story perspective. (Yes, you have a partner for substantial portions of the episodes, but regular solo outings as well…would you want to be sitting on the sidelines during co-op? I wouldn’t.)

  9. James says:

    SWAT IV was ridiculously good co-op. Really, really good, but equally infuriating on harder difficulties if proper measures weren’t taken. Eight or so of us did a hardcore one-night run-through of the main campaign, got to the research facility and ended up chasing each other about with revolvers utterly infuriated with the difficulty.

    So yeah, good. Also good was Vegas but on a much smaller scale. There were a few issues with the implementation, notably the lack of cut-scenes and hot-mission-briefing-lass. Apart from that, it’s slick as Jessica Biel in a leather catsuit.

    However! SWAT IV is the closest you can get to feeling like you’re part of a real, consequential, accountable team. Over voice communications it’s like free paintball. Real, challenging, fun.

    Gears played quite well, and was much like single player… but, well, experiencing it with someone else. Teamwork sort of happened passively and one player can quite easily prop the other up. More like watching a film.

    Halo was laughably bad. It was like Farscape in game form. I laughed heartily, then laughed some more. The greatest trick Microsoft ever pulled was convincing the world their game was any fun.

  10. Janek says:

    I find it interesting how most of the “best” coop games (and most overlooked in the media, arguably) are mostly squad-based stuff with discrete missions, in which additional human players pretty much just take the role of AI counterparts, rather than having any mechanic to justify it crudely crowbarred in.

    But yes, nothing can quite equal collaborative tasering of old ladies.

    And in the game.

  11. Nick says:

    I even liked Vegas Single Player. I bought it on the strength of Jim’s review and the pretty screenshots.

    I really hate the way Ubisoft treat PC users though, it’s a terrible conflict but in the end, I’m still going to buy Vegas 2 because I know I’ll enjoy it and the co-op fun for a while after I’ve finished it.

    That and they wouldn’t miss my money if I didn’t.

  12. AbyssUK says:

    Serious Sam and Serious SAM II both great co-op! SO many baddies no body gets bored

  13. Pidesco says:

    If I could get any…

  14. Sean Noonan says:

    Co-operative play makes every game better – fact.

  15. dr_demento says:

    Am I the only person who hated the RS:Vegas implementation? It was probably the worst thing about the game for me.

    Unlike in single player, there weren’t *any* checkpoints so if you both died close to the end of Calypso Casino (say, at the murderously hard vertical hotel section) then you’d have to replay the entire level from the beginning.

    Oh, and that also meant you were forced to spend five minutes sitting in a helicopter at the start of every mission (or indeed if you died at all) since saving once you’d got out was obviously beyond them. Halo and Gears both managed this basic feat of programming, why was it beyond Ubisoft – especially when they’d already made such a fantastic shooter to start with!

    Which isn’t to say it was bad – me and my friend played it through so many times we ended up making up challenges. “The entire game… on realistic… with nothing but the Glock 18!” – took a while, but we managed it. Just.