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Co-op gaming is back

Brad Gallaway's picture

Two-player co-op is back, and I couldn't be happier.

I got Gears of War from GameFly earlier this week, and I was stoked because my brother had a copy of the same game in his 360, and had been waiting for mine to arrive.

We both grew up on videogames (when we weren't out fishing, or getting lost in the woods) and although we played all of the classics, it's pretty clear looking back and that we each enjoyed playing co-op more than anything else.

If you're old enough, how could you ever forget playing Contra and fighting over who would be red-pants and who would be blue-pants? What about Life Force and blasting through the guts of a huge interstellar alien while cracking jokes with a friend?  Without a doubt, working together and being a team is something that I completely enjoyed... and missed.

Although I think I would say that the PlayStation/PlayStation 2 era was one of the richest for me in terms of the kind of game experiences I had, the one that was sorely lacking was co-op. I've never been into FPSs much, and the thought of playing any sort of deathmatch for more than an hour leaves me cold. I'd much rather work towards a common goal and cover a buddy's back than hide out on a high ledge and snipe people from afar, blasting strangers into nuggets every 2.5 seconds.

I recall plans for a Survival-Horror cooperative game that failed to materialize (was it from Kemco?), and The Adventures of Cookie & Cream went completely unrecognized, but more often than not, the only projects that included multiplayer were of the combative variety. No thanks.

Although Gears of War isn't all it was cracked up to be (...but that's an entirely different discussion), I completely bow down to it for the simple fact that it's possible to play the entire campaign cooperatively with a friend.

My brother and I are half an hour apart on a good traffic day, we both work full-time jobs, and we both have real-life commitments that make getting together on a regular basis somewhat prohibitive. But thanks to Microsoft, Epic, and Marcus Fenix, we can hook up for a few hours at night and relive the days (sort of) we spent hanging out in a crowded bedroom elbowing each other out of the way and passing snacks back and forth.  Regardless of the issues I may have with the game itself, I fully intend on paying full retail price for a copy as a way of saying thanks.

Although I'm not putting down people who love to frag, it's not for me and probably never will be.  As such, I couldn't be happier that co-op seems to be on the rise.  A number of titles in development are focused on bringing this long-forgotten style of play back to the forefront (Army of Two looks phenomenal) and I'm tickled at the prospect that my days of being a perennial solo gamer may be over.

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Totally agree! Co-op is

Totally agree! Co-op is great. What's also great about is it gives you an opportunity to play in the same room with someone a la Contra. However, that "someone," given how it's about 20 years later, is now my wife. It's a great relationship builder. And I need another adjective other than "great."

As for the co-op survival-horror title, are you thinking of Resident Evil Outbreak?

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No, it was a game that was never released. I recalled seeing pics of it in game mags very early in the PS2 generation... it was a splitscreen adventure that had two people going through a haunted house separately and one of the main ideas was helping the other player progress. It was getting press long before RE: Outbreak, it was one of the first or second generation games but disappeared without materializing. It only sticks out in my memory because I recall being so excited for co-op and then being pretty disappointed that it fell through.

Agreed. Co-op is awesome.

Agreed. Co-op is awesome. Remember Mortal Kombat Shaolin Monks? Co-op is exactly what made it so fun!

What problems do you have

What problems do you have with Gears? I have plenty (most of it relating to the multiplayer outside of co-op). But despite the overall art direction, randomness of the chainsaw attack, weapon imbalance and camera angles (it would've been great to switch stances so you can see what might be directly in front of Marcus Fenix's avatar), it's still a fun romp that deserves around an 8 or 8.5.

Reply

At the moment, I haven't finished the game yet. I've been going through the campaign with my brother in co-op and he's been busy lately, but I hope to finish it tonight.

That said, I feel as though GoW is more like a framework than a fully-fledged game. I know that Epic have never been known for their characters or plot lines, but the effort put forth is totally pathetic and worse than the average fanfic, IMO. I feel no connection with Marcus or any of the other characters, and I don't really get the impression that I'm supposed to.

The adventure itself feels pretty standard. Run here, take cover, shoot some enemies. I mean, don't get me wrong… the graphics completely kick ass and in the controls are like butter, but that's what I mean by saying that it feels more like a framework than a game. The structure and tools are there, but Epic didn't really do anything unexpected with them.

Also, some of the pre-scripted stuff feels like garbage to me, like the way you need a Hammer of Dawn to take out a Seeder. My brother and I were pouring round after round, grenade after grenade into it with no effect until he stumbled across the Hammer around a corner that we hadn't seen. Bah. Another time, I was trying to hit a switch and I couldn't hit it because I hadn't walked in exactly the right spot to trigger off the “surprise” attack of the enemy that popped out after I had started backtracking. Once I killed that lone enemy, the switch magically activated. Yawn. I may be a little hard to impress, but take away the absolutely beautiful wrapping, and I don't see much here that hasn't been done elsewhere EXCEPT for the co-op.

But like I said above, the co-op option rocks and the game is totally playable and extremely easy on the eyes, so from that perspective I've been quite happy to play it… I'm not sure what my feelings would be if I had played it solo from the start, but my gut tells me that the co-op is what I'm loving more than the game itself.

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