As of 12 noon, Rockstar’s ambitious living multiplayer world went live.
I can see the pitched taglines now…
“GTA Online - Act the Psychopath… but with your mates!”
I’m not sure if that means that there’ll be no-one left to read this ruddy article. However, in the hopes not ALL of you have been lured away by the promise of skydiving, yoga and haircuts (a potent combination, if ever there was one), behold seven of the very best multiplayers to rival GTA Online!
For a series that has long since made up its mind to reduce hardened gamers into quivering messes of snot and sobs, the Souls games really babysit you online.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still have your souls, XP and dignity shredded in an instant by an invading Black Phantom. But From Software refuses to torment you with the inane online prattle. The haunting beauty of Lordan would be somewhat compromised by shouts of “Quit spamming parry, you M*****B****S***F***er!”
Communication occurs via gestures, fatal bloodstains and scribbled messages. Jolly co-operation is as easy as accepting a phantom invitation. Matches terminate, mess free, once the nearest Demon, or your own health bar, is vanquished.
Strange that the most cripplingly difficult AAA game this generation is also the most polite and obliging.
Mario Kart 64
There are a lot of racers to choose from.
Hell, there are a lot of Mario Karts to choose from.
But I enjoy 64.
Crucially, it’s that bit more advanced than Super, yet unburdened by Double Dash’s over-complication or the wand-waving wonkyness of Mario Kart Wii.
What else is there to tell? You gots the weapons. You can power-slide. There are shortcuts. And the balloon popping battle mode makes a triumphant return.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?!
Oh ho ho, I’m well aware there is another, dominant, influential, Team Fortress 2 shaped Valve title most of you were probably expecting to make an appearance…
Well, suck it up! There’s more to life than shooting. Like instantaneous transmission via lunar matter lubricated Einstein-Rosen bridges. Also known as portals.
Indeed, the puzzler is rarely sighted multiplay option. And precisely what makes Portal 2’s secondary campaign so interesting. The introduction of a second wormhole means Valve scoured the fiendish recesses of their warped minds in the creation of dozens of puzzle rooms.
Too often, multiplayer descends into a single skilled gamer cleaning house.
To those I say, ‘Good luck getting past GLaDOS’ first room without teamwork, matey!’
I say matey now because I’m a pirate.
Daniel reckons the reason AC’s Hide’N’Slaughter mode remains addictive, is down to the fact it’s not strictly twitch based?
‘Eh…’ I says to Daniel, I says, “You don’t reckon swinging on a hanging basket before dropping into an aerial assassination while a one eyed butcher takes aim with a concealed wrist pistol is twitch based?!?!”
But (in a bid to be both diplomatic and boring) WE’RE BOTH RIGHT!
Yes, AC is fast and frantic and fabulous. But also taught and tense and tactical. Though you may be eager to gut your mark, you won’t want to tip your hand too early… lest your own hunter cut you down. Aye, for such an openly brutal game, there’s a glorious harmony to the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer. One which coerces collaboration quite elegantly.
Star Wars: Battlefront II
Strange I’d choose a PS2 TPS when I have Halo 3 and Gears to choose from. But Battlefront remains special to me because it respects the fact I HAVE NO FRIENDS. All its multiplayer modes were available offline. Maps could be populated with easily pwned bots. My choice of blaster, trooper, turret, vehicle and starcraft wasn’t limited or prescribed. If I wanted to hop into a TIE Bomber, annihilate some support craft, vaporize a Y-Wing, land in an enemy hanger bay, fight my way to the reactor core, slap some space age semtex on that bitch then nick a speedy A-Wing and high tail it out of there THEN THAT WAS MY BUSINESS.
I personally find it baffling that modern, RAM guzzling, super computational titles can’t offer the level of freedom, variety and spectacle an eight year old STAR WARS game offered. Harumpf!
Time for some home truths, yo! Bonkers shooters are in no short supply – Borderlands and Saints Row to name drop two of the bonkiest (it’s a word, look it up!... please don’t look it up.)
Similarly, multiplayer FPS aint a sparsely populated genre, folks.
But Timesplitters wins. At life. And at other stuff. Timesplitters was so delightfully nuts, so infectiously zany, those 4-Player local co-op sessions (remember those?!?!) remain undefeated.
Speaking of which…
Pick one - II Turbo. Super IV. III: Third Strike.
A jumble of unrelated terms to the uninitiated. But to those familiar, they are the very soul of competition. Carnage for beginners and Chess for pros, Street Fighter simultaneously appeals to our basest nature and the most sophisticated logics of our left brains. A cursory glance at EVO should more than cement that notion.
Be it online or on sofa, a human opponent or a robotic adversary, Street Fighter will gnash those teeth, blister those thumbs and test that mettle. Unless you’re fighting Seth, who’s clearly a cheating son of a bitch!
But by all means, if you and your crew would prefer to get matching pigtails, be my guest…