You can’t get away with releasing a game these days without having some kind of multiplayer aspect to it. Perhaps because of this generations massive focus on online play, perhaps because nearly every game ever made is better when playing with someone else, or perhaps because adding a multiplayer mode will give a publisher an opportunity to charge for something when the game is being bought pre-owned?
The worst of these is, without question, the ‘forced co-op’ mode. Look, I get it, the first time we all sat down in front of Gears of War and played through the campaign with our mate over Xbox Live, it was pretty incredible. Since then, a whole bunch of games have cropped up with this cooperative experience at the forefront, regardless of the damage it does to the single player. All of them have the same tedious problems. Oh look, another part where you have to flank a turret position. Hang on, here’s the obligatory section where players are split up and one must provide sniper cover for the other. Surprise! The barely cognitive A.I controlling the other character is doing something stupid again! Here’s some of the examples that irritated me the most. I’m sure there are many, many more, but I’m writing this at work and my boss could turn up at....
Kane and Lynch.
There is a moment around the first hour of the original Kane and Lynch where it looks like it could have real potential. You have to do a bank job, and the game seems to indicate that one player will be going down to the vault, to pass security, blow it open and start bagging the cash, while the other player is dealing with the hostages in the main room, keeping an eye on the growing police presence outside. Sounds amazing, right? Thing is, you don’t actually do any of that! You shoot your way in and shoot your way out. The reality is it is just another cover shooter, which it doesn’t do a particularly good job of, and you blast your way through the same enemy configurations you’ve seen a thousand times in a thousand other games.
The ‘Two’ from Army of Two.
Look, I know they have names - I’m just being facetious about how utterly faceless Salem and Rios are. Quite literally, too, as their only real distinguishing features are their masks. The Army of Two games are games built around those aforementioned tedious multiplayer staples, and fronted by two characterless, charmless, bullheaded gunmen. EA appear to be aware of this, and have dropped them from the third installment, replacing them with characters called - are you ready - ‘Alpha’ and ‘Bravo’. Fucking A and B! Look forward to Army of Two: Four on next-gen consoles, featuring tedious muscle men ‘Player One’ and ‘Player Two’. Real names will be inevitable DLC, or some shit.
Any two from Resident bloody Evil bloody 6.
Whoever decided that the dreadful Jovovich vehicle movies were a good thing to start moulding this legendary series into will be first against the wall when I am declared ‘king of games’. Whoever decided to turn Resident Evil, a series known for either being about exploring a terrifying place alone, or surviving on your own against insurmountable odds, into yet another co-op shooter, will be next. The warning signs were there. Resident Evil 5 had you shackled to Sheva Alamar. Resident Evil 6 continued this with three separate campaigns - playing them on your own will have you wandering around with a useless A.I partner. There’s nothing worse than a section where you have to wait for them to make their way to a ladder or something to drop it for you. My absolute favourite thing is the way they locust all your ammo! I'm getting angry just writing this.
The guy in Resistance: Fall of Man and his mate.
This one is hilarious. Unlike all of the others games mentioned which force the single player into a game designed for co-op, this does quite the opposite. The game is clearly designed for single player, but the popularity of online play forced them into sticking some kind of cooperative play into the game and it is a really half-arsed job. For instance, in cutscenes, player two is some nameless, thankless soldier who is ignored by every single person you come across! Poor design, lazy programmers or perhaps something more sinister? After all, player two appears as a black male soldier, wandering around the North of England in the Forties. Uh oh!
Sonic and FUCKING MILES ‘TAILS’ PROWER.
Don’t get me wrong, despite having fierce issues with the Sonic the Hedgehog games, Sonic 2 is a stone cold classic. The best of the bunch. The highest mark the series has hit, and likely won’t get anywhere near ever again. Sonic was joined by some rubbish A.I. fox mate called Miles Per Hour Joke for the duration of this adventure, who did absolutely sod all for the duration. HOWEVER, a second player could plug in a pad and actually take control of him! Amazing! A co op campaign! Nah. The screen remained focused on Sonic the entire time, so the poor bastard lumbered with Tails keeps getting left behind. Also, when controlled by the A.I Tails has the ability to fly but that is completely removed when the a player two takes control. In Sonic 3 he can pick Sonic up and fly about, but there’s literally no reason to do so, ever. He later went on to appear in some of the worst levels I’ve ever experienced in Sonic Adventure 2.
Fuck you, Tails.