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Flying Solo

Is it just me, or did every gamer suddenly impregnate themselves with the seed of Microsoft, give birth to the ultimate gaming buddy, and then start smashing Halo 3 co-op on legendary?

When did this unquenchable thirst to complete games in co-operative mode reach such stellar heights?

In this editorial, I aim to look at how countless developers are attempting to distance themselves from the archaic single player format and encourage a fully co-operative experience for the gamers. Read on to hear the sad tale of a man who missed the co-op boat.

I picked up Borderlands for my 360 over the weekend. I had tried to avoid buying a ticket on the hype train, but unfortunately, the incredible coverage it was receiving, not only from the gaming community, but from my group of friends as well, was far too overwhelming to elude.

Expecting a cross between Fallout 3 and XIII, I was disappointed from the moment I took control of my character. Single player felt oddly empty, and a strange niggling at the back of my head kept reminding me that Borderlands was supporting co-operative play unlike anything ever seen before.

Immediately, I called up a friend of mine who had bought the game on the day of its release. We both jumped on Xbox Live, and I am sad to say, we had the time of our lives. There is a unique flavor to co-op mode that is unrivaled in most games, and it offers the sort of revolutionary gameplay that you are certain to see evolve in years to come.

Borderlands

The problem didn’t spawn from co-op, but rather from returning to single player. Borderlands felt dull and lonely without the co-operative spark, and I found myself putting the game down in a fit of disgust.

This isn’t the first time that this has happened. Left 4 Dead left me with the same emptiness as Borderlands: without co-op, the game’s lifeblood diminished.

It all started back with Halo. For more than a decade, I had been enjoying the simple pleasures of single player gaming; I had a sister who enjoyed about five minutes of Columns each year before being distracted by real life, and a father who perpetuated my addiction by taking me to the local game’s trader nearly every weekend.

I was content in my solitude.

Then Bungie came along and ruined it all. No longer was it enough to simply finish a game on its highest difficulty, oh no! Now you had to join up with a friend, who was more often than not your video gaming inferior, in order to impress the masses.

The main problem I had with this, initially, was finding a friend with whom I could complete an entire game. Certainly I had a handful of hardcore gaming buddies who I would LAN with on most weekends, but they were also under the notion that if you were going to finish a campaign, best do it alone.

Gathering for an entire evening to play through a game like Halo may sound enticing, even common to some, but I simply could not find anyone willing to commit to that length of solid gaming. While my friends and I can gladly play through a title like Morrowind for days on end, I can hardly stand more than one or two hours of Halo 3 online. There is something despicably repetitive and tedious about a straightforward score-fest.

Halo 3 co-op

Luckily, after weeks of searching, I finally found my man. Once my new Spartan companion and I jumped into co-op mode, I was truly pleased with the result. I could hear Aladdin and Jasmine belting out A Whole New World in my head, and I knew, just knew, that gaming had taken a brilliant step forward.

I made a mistake, though. After that, the most wonderful night of my life, I went back to single player.

I had been robbed. What was this game – a game that suddenly felt so desolate and frustrating? It certainly wasn’t what I had been playing the previous evening. After that moment, I simply swore off co-op gaming altogether, and for a time, it returned from whence it came.

Now, you may be asking yourself why I would swear off co-op when I had enjoyed it so much; and that is a valid question. The problem I faced was not with the game itself, but from my decade’s worth of single player indoctrination. I simply couldn’t comprehend how gaming had evolved into this multiplayer experience. I didn’t want to share; I wanted the thrills, the laughs, and the triumph of completing the game all to myself.

Today, co-operative titles line the shelves. Gears of War 2, Halo 3: ODST, Army of Two, World at War; I can no longer ignore the co-operative genre, it has become a market within itself, and doesn’t look to be retreating any time soon.

I truly hope that single player campaigns will continue to play an important role in the progression of games, but I have resigned myself to the knowledge that by evading co-operative gameplay, I am missing out on so much more.

  1. I agree. Borderlands is great, but I hate that you need to hunt around for simularily levelled partners if you want to have fun.

  2. I still haven’t really gotten into the co-op side of todays games as much as the titles would probably like me to. I played through the first three or so chapters of Halo 2 with a friend but otherwise it’s just not something I’m able to do yet. I’m a real sucker for single player experiences, so sometimes it’s hard to get away from that and see exactly why people are praising a certain game for its co-op alone.

    Like you say, in today’s industry you’re really missing out on a lot in games if you forfeit the co-operative side of things which is why my habits annoy me so much now. :P

    • avatar Fiza

      HiCan you tell me what video format did you use?And can you palese tell me how to put some video on it.. i tried it but it says file error

    • avatar lety

      My guy friend got it & was very diepipoantsd he beat it pretty fast but was also frustrated by the shortness & lots of bugs so he’s gone back back to playing Call of duty Modern warfare & Medal of Honor that just came out. He got me hooked on them too. Great stress relief . Any Halo is not worth the money so you aren’t missing anything. The flow is just better in my opinion with MOW. There is a graphic setting so you dont have to have lots of blood & the one or two missions that are a bit much can be skipped without ruining the story though I will say that the story can be captivating and several unexpected twists can leave you a bit more emotional then you would expect. Was this answer helpful?

  3. avatar Rob

    I sort of feel this way, although maybe stronger. I work third shift and I usually play games when i get home around 7 am! Not many of (and by not many I mean all) my friends can play then.

    So ironically when i would be out “socializing” on the weekend I seem to be stuck (if you can call it that) playing games. On the other hand, most of the “need to play” games that capitolise on the multi-player aspect are usually FPS’es, which is not my favorite genera. It seems to me that borderlands really carved a niche. It is damn, damn, damn, fun to play with others. Im hooked on it, unfortunately im left pissing my weekends playing it rather then seeing real people and pissing away coors lite :P

  4. My thoughts are similar, but kinda contradictory. I also enjoy single player campaigns and love making my way through them, however, I ALWAYS feel like it would be much, much more fun playing alongside a real comrade. But I don’t feel like they are making enough games to fulfill that desire at all….

    Sure, they just came out with borderlands, but other than that, I don’t feel as though they are really gearing many games to be played with other friends, especially split-screen. I think once they start making most games with the 4 player split-screen co-op like Halo, then we’ll be getting places….heck, even 2 player split-screen would be appreciated…

    I think too many developers think we want to compete against our friends…but wouldn’t you much rather team up and dominate WITH them?

  5. i play a lot with my girlfriend and gears of war, left for dead 2 and resident evil 5 have been great co op experiences. especially re5 which does co-op really well. i kind of had a 5-7 year break from gaming and it was coming back into it with halo 3 and gears of war a couple years ago that fully pulled me back in.

    tbh it seems wierd when games don’t include cooperative modes. i still play single player games but often i would rather play something coop with my girlfriend

  6. avatar Mr TT but u call me GOD

    James & Rob both made inexcusable spelling errors..

  7. I keep reading things about Borderlands that make it seem less incredible than it looks. I wanna play games by myself sometimes, and I thought Borderlands could be one of those games. KOTOR, DJ Hero, Mirror’s Edge, Psychonauts, Pilotwings, Mario 64… there have been plenty of incredible single-player experiences throughout the years and I’m not eager to give them up.

    Besides that, though, I love the header image. Where’s it from?

    • avatar Yumi

      it depends some pelope like closer to a game unlike halo 2 and they like the scifi part of the game(which could have been more epic but i am not complaining) and some just like the cool multiplayer that can be played online unlike me cause i dont have xbox live=’(. but i like the series in general.

  8. I love co-op, but it’s true that the single player experience can feel watered down because developers have spent time working on co-op.

    But COD:WAW is one game where the co-op campaign is much worse than the single player.

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    • avatar Loic

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  9. avatar Darko

    I love the OPTION to play co-op with friends. My favorite experience was probably R6V2. It offered up one of the most satisfying co-op experience I’ve tried in a long time, and I’ve yet to find something that lives up the the challenge and sense of accomplishment after going through the game on the most difficult setting (sorry, can’t remember what it was called). I played a little RE5 and L4D, and L4D was a lot of fun for sure. I have a friend that usually ends up playing the same titles I do at the same time. Right now we’re playing Fallout 3 and DA:O. Co-op? No. But they’re still great games! One player adventures that should only be that. If we want to chat while we’re playing, we just start a party.

  10. avatar David Macphail

    I’ve never really cared about co – op. Much like a multiplayer mode it’s something that’s nice to have as an extra but not a reason for me to purhase a game.

    I buy a game for the single – player story and anything else that happens to be on there is just a nice bonus. Although co – op does come in handy if you happen to be stuck at a particular part of the game.

  11. avatar bg93

    There are plenty of Devs doing just SP or doing SP very very well. Uncharted 1 and 2 are both spectacular online, and, more importantly, offline. Ratchet and Clank is also great. Burnout Paradise is also a great one which makes coop fun, but SP not lonely. I’d recommend all 3!

  12. avatar Guy

    Wow, how lame: yet another way for blaming Halo. This time for an industry going forward, only because it shows you how the games you played in the past are not as fun as you thought before moving to co-op.

    Well, I’ve got news for you: I’ve been playing Mario 3, Bubble Bobble and Rampage 20 years ago, and they were all so fun in co-op that they made single player look boring afterward. Welcome to the past.

  13. avatar randombullseye

    For me it was when I first saw the princess laying on a shrine. I knew I had to figure out how to save her, so I walked out of it and was in a world full of monsters. The town couldn’t tell me where to go. I was there all alone. Trying to decipher all this. Places online, blogs or whatever, to talk about this type of thing. I know someone out there realized exactly what I was talking about princess on the shrine walking outside, all of it. The idea of being alone in a world with no real nothing. Not even a manual to help you out. Just your wits. Games these days seem to hold your hand the entire way, some even playing themselves for you. I recall the days of having to look things up on gamefaqs to understand which way to go.

    Then I found a website called gamefaqs and can do anything, thanks to others.

    While I agree that Halo isn’t the shining grail of the greatest game ever that everyone says it is, that game is Zombies Ate My Neighbors, I will say that the “Halo Shields” of hide and heal gameplay has become a mainstay of gaming. Like it or not, Halo has had an effect on gaming. I don’t like it.

    • avatar YaKim

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  15. avatar Lancar

    my sister and i sell also halo halo when we were still kids, i can rembmeer how it is hard to shave ice manually using the old ice shaver ahihi

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