It’s been a nice, fairly quiet, gaming weekend over here in Pixel Towers. We’ve gone through some Ark, some Elite, even some Call of Duty which is always fun with the wife, though it always gets us thinking…
Back when I were a lad (and all this were fields, and you could get into t’ cinema for t’ jam jar) gaming was still in the early stages. It wasn’t a toddler any more, but it was still bringing people together in a much more real way than it does today.
The younger readers may have a slight problem with computing this, but I can assure you even in the late eighties and early nineties it was possible and quite normal for two people (or more!) to play a game using one “console” one “television” and one keyboard. It was a tricky enterprise to get four hands on one keyboard and not get in each other’s way, but that was part ofthe fun of it and if you wanted to pay two player on our little Amstrad CPC464 it’s what we had to do (We never picked up the joystick)
We evolved fairly quickly from that into having consoles with two controller ports, and then along came the PlayStation with its Multitap and the N64 which gave you four ports right off the bat because, well why not?! We could have four players huddled up together for bouts on Goldeneye or Crash Bash, and games like Micro Machines kept it going by allowing eight players to have half a controller each.
Things were going so well, we moved along again to the Xbox 360 and PS3 both allowing you to connect 4 wireless controllers straight away, which seemed great, but where the hell are the games?! Sure if we want on-line co-op or deathmatches we’re pretty sorted for multiplayer these days, but if me and the wife want to play anything together we’re pretty much relegated to Call of Duty or indie titles.
Now there are some games I agree where it simply shouldn’t be an option. Totally single player titles like Alien Isolation, Dead space etc. are single player to give you that sense of… Isolation… and allowing other players into that completely ruins the suspense and removes all horror from survival horror titles (as we saw in Dead Space 3: Gears Of Dead Space) but not every game is a survival horror.
What happens when we want to game together, or crazier still have a get together with four friends and game together? We don’t want to be constantly in deathmatches but it’s very rare these days to find a good game which will let you go through the story mode as a two or four player unit, even in those which provide online co-op. There have been a few we’ve enjoyed, Army of Two was a good shout, Lord of the Rings titles are nice to play throughand there is, of course, Borderlands. all of these were decent games when playing single player but I will always enjoy them more when playing through with a friend, and as I live with my best frirend, I want to be able to play with her too
Looking at the listings over at co-optimus.com it seems these days that “couch co-op” is a beast which is dwindling into Extinction, and that makes me a little sad. We fully support Blops III’s “splitscreen in every game mode” approach and we’re looking forward to Ark Survival Evolved getting splitscreen as well, but in the meantime I guess we’ll just have to go back to re-runs of Fuzion Frenzy, Goldeneye, and Mario Kart while we wait.