On the eve of two of the biggest multiplayer titles hitting the streets I thought I’d use this time to talk about multiplayer and it’s importance in gaming.
Multiplayer games have always been a big selling point, from the old days of PONG to the upcoming release of MODERN WARFARE 3 and BATTLEFIELD 3. Each game can be graphically different and have a differing game mechanic but they all have a common thread between them, to compete and beat your opponent. Multiplayer adds a sense of the unknown or the unpredictable to a gaming experience. With the majority of single player titles you can learn what the game will do in different situations and can predict what will happen. In a multiplayer game this isn’t the case, you had to learn a person and how they think if you want to beat them and even then they can throw a curve ball and do something you’ve not seen before. Add to this online multiplayer against people you’ve never met and the only chance you have of learning/understanding/beating them is to play them.
Playing a multiplayer game offline is a fun experience that almost brings a party experience to it, look at WII BOWLING, I never play that on my own but with a few people round and maybe a drink or too it suddenly becomes a great game for everyone to play, compete and laugh about. Same can be said for other titles like BOMBERMAN and MARIO KART.
Online multiplayer gaming seems to take on a different approach. For me at least it becomes a more serious competitive experience. I concentrate more and I plan out what I’m going to do and where I’m going to go. Playing BLACK OPS becomes an immersive experience as I try to judge what people on my team and my opponents will do in a given scenario and what can I do to be the best. The competitive nature comes out a lot more. Both these ways of playing a multiplayer title are great fun and have their place in every gamers way of playing.
What I do find interesting lately in the gaming world is the way multiplayer is becoming so important and a main selling point. Games today are being created and sold almost purely on their online abilities and games that wouldn’t normally have a multiplayer aspect are suddenly having it shoehorned into them even it’s good for the game or not.
Today’s consoles have the luxury of being the first majorly online accessible gaming media to date. Where as the PLAYSTATION 2 and the X BOX could go online it wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. Look at the uproar that happened when PSN went down as well as the X BOX 360′s online service. Yes with the PSN outage there was the issue of hacking but from people I spoke to etc they were more angry that they couldn’t play online for a few weeks. It’s become so ingrained into many gamers that online multiplayer is the way to play. Titles such as MW3 etc are sold on their multiplayer ability. Most critics and players alike panned the single player gaming experience in MW2 for varies reasons but loved the multiplayer and as such that title sold millions. It seems this trend is set to continue and grow with other games grabbing for the multiplayer experience.
One game I played that added multiplayer which I felt wasn’t really needed was ASSASSINS CREED BROTHERHOOD. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this game, I became a real hardened fan of this franchise. Playing ASSASSINS CREED 2 I felt it was a complete game. Totally immersive and a full gaming experience. Picking up ACB I again loved the storyline and the way it played and how everything looked. I bought it solely on the single player aspect of the game. The developer however included a multiplayer side to this as well. I have played it and I feel it is good, different but for me it feels almost ‘tacked on’ after the fact. ACB is a great game and would of been the exact same great game without the multiplayer side.
Now an argument can rightfully be had about the issue of adding multiplayer to a game and letting the gamer decide if they want to play or not and I fully agree. It’s nice to have the choice in a game. I would encourage developers to carry on doing this as long as they kept up the standard of the game they intended to make. What I mean by this is that if they intend to make a multiplayer game first and foremost then great, throw all you attention and developmental tools into and I look forward to playing it. If however they intend to make a single player game then I would like them to remember that’s what they set out to do and not to take time and resources away from that endeavour to create a tacked on multiplayer experience. More often than not doing this results in a lower class of game overall. My case in point for this is MEDAL OF HONOR. It looks good to play, it was advertised as a fantastic single player experience with an online feature as well but I fell short of loving this game for exactly the reasons I said before. The single player side was shorter than hoped for, glitches everywhere and for me, not finished in a way like other similar titles. It felt to me that they rushed the single player side which was the intentional bigger side of the game to add multiplayer like bigger titles so they could try and compete and for me it failed. It’s a good game and worth playing but it’s not as good as it could or should of been.
For me I’d rather play a single player title that has been designed purely as a single player title. GOD OF WAR 3 is my favourite example of this. It was designed as a single player experience and was released as such without and added multiplayer feature. This game is amazing. The developers threw all their power and devotion to this one aspect and as a result the game was a huge success. Graphically, gameplay wise, overall experience wise this game works and works very well. Not once did I feel like it could of done with adding multiplayer to it. I hold this game up as an example of a truly finished complete game where the developers did everything they could to make it as close to a perfect game as possible without throwing all sorts of added features and gameplay options to water the experience down. A true all star title.
These are only my views of course and the beauty and luxury that gaming and multiplayer gaming has is that it’s different for each and every gamer. We all play the same games but we don’t all have the same experience and views.
Jedi Junkie (Graham Coe)