Have You Played... Cobalt?
Max Payne, eat your heart out
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
Cobalt had two ideas that make it one of the best arena shooters I’ve played: automatic time slowing, and a roll button that deflects bullets. There’s a single player/co-op campaign, though when I played that was only there in bare-bones form. Not that it mattered, because the multiplayer was fantastic.
In Cobalt, time slows down based on how many projectiles are near a player. It’s like Max Payne’s bullet time without the hassle of having to press a button, and no resource meter to worry about. It means that every time you try to shoot someone, they’ll have the chance to deal with it - which is awesome, because Cobalt also gives you one of the best defensive/offensive tools I’ve seen in a game.
Combat rolls are nothing new, but slow-motion combat rolls that deflect bullets back at your attacker are a game-changer. Of course, your opponent may well counter with a roll of his own - resulting in tense duels where timing and psychology play an even more important role than aiming.
Oh, and did I mention you can punch rockets out of the air?
The multiplayer-only followup, Cobalt WASD, came out last month, and mysteriously did away with that deflective combat roll. I think that makes it the only sequel that’s managed to both add a grappling hook and be a far inferior game.