Thank you for your cooperation!

March 9, 2010, Author: Simon Weatherall

When I first started gaming I played lots of different games, some of them on my own and a few with some mates. It dawned on me the other day that I have been playing more co-op games of late and not because I’m afraid of gaming on my own, but more because I find it a much better experience when you’re sat with your partner/friend in the same room or across the internet working together.

Multiplayer gaming is what people look to more often than not these days, but for me, I like to take into consideration games that my partner (Kirsty) can play with me. The amount of co-op games is on the rise, some good and some bad, but the shift is obvious; co-op is the new single player!

So, what’s the attraction of co-op gaming? For me it’s because I can hold a conversation with Kirsty that doesn’t involve any over- explanation because she doesn’t have a clue what I’m on about. Co-op is also something that we can do together and work as a team which beats playing with yourself (no pun intended… well maybe a little). You can discuss tactics and have a laugh, and you can also explore the story together. The main problem when it comes to co-op gaming is finding a decent game to play, so I have decided to do you a list with my recommendations in no particular order.

Halo 3 and ODST

Let's take a drive.

That’s right folks you guessed it, Halo! So, it’s been out a while and you may have already played it, but have you played it with up to three of your mates? If not then that’s ok, there is time for you yet. Halo features up to four player co-op so if you want to start your co-op experience I would start here. Halo 3 may not be the longest game made but if you start on the normal difficulty then increase it once you have finished it once, you can get some real fun out of this game. It also has one of the most brilliant stories in any game, as well as one of the most iconic characters ever.

The same accusation of a brilliant story can be said for ODST which focuses more on stealth and picking your fights, rather than a gung-ho attitude. The story also differs from that of Halo 3 as it’s the first time in a Halo game that you don’t play ‘The Master Chief’. This produces two unique challenges to keep you and your chosen partner(s) occupied. If you do get ODST as well, be warned that you also get all of the maps packs (except for the newest one that was released the other week) for Halo 3 and the multiplayer component is on a separate disk.

Verdict: Both these games are great for beginners as they both have a varied spectrum of difficulty settings and really are two different experiences set in the same universe.


Sniper and a Siren sitting in a tree... S.h.o.o.t.i.n.g...

Borderlands approaches storytelling very differently in comparison to other games of its type. There is a beginning, middle and an end, which is all you really need to know. The story is pretty much told through the missions that you can undertake as and when you have unlocked them and in any order. This also features up to four player co-op too or just two player on the same console split-screen. This title literally has hundreds of hours of gameplay, if you fancy completing it as each of the four different characters. There is also a comedic feel to the game and many times you will be laughing at how over the top it is.

Verdict: Because Borderlands is a RPG, you upgrade your abilities as your character gains a level, adding extra depth and another reason to keep playing. With over a hundred missions, what better game to play with others?

Left 4 Dead (1&2)

I don't think we're alone...

What’s not to be said for zombie killing, is there anything that’s more fun?! What better way to spend your evening than to allowing up to three of your mates to partake in hunting the undead (or is it you that’s getting hunted… the lines are a bit blurry). With two games to own and play, there really is a good reason to own both, mainly due to how they provide two different experiences. This game speaks for itself, it doesn’t need a story (survive, that’s about it) and can have you jumping all over the living room in an effort to evade the blasted witch that keeps chasing you at every turn. The other good thing about this game is atmosphere with a capital A. Once you learn the tell tale sounds and have the volume up high and the lights out, you really do get drawn into a zombie apocalyptic where you create your own stories in gameplay. Absolute mayhem.

Essentially you are in a team of four throughout the levels, but if there is only three or less of you, the other members are replaced by the ever helpful AI. A good reason to own both is that you can use melee weapons in the second one; there is nothing more satisfying than killing a zombie with a frying pan (THUNG!).

Verdict: A co-op game that on harder levels really does require and reward team ethic.

Gears of War (1&2)

Marcus and Dom. You can cut the sexual tension with a chainsaw.

Gears is one of those games that just makes you want to play through all the way, even if it’s only the once. Both are fantastic games and although the second game added some nifty features, the original is still the better. Now, even though there are four main characters, Epic didn’t make it a four player affair so you will have to pick one of your mates to join you. Disappointing, but at least you can still play with a friend (seriously I’m not trying to be rude… it just keeps happening).

Verdict: With its cover and flanking system at the heart of it, and a story written with co-op in mind, this is a great game to play with another.

Army of Two (1 & 40th day)

I think I love you, man.

These are two of my favourite co-op games, and I think they should only ever be played in co-op due to the terrible partner AI that you have to contend with when you are on your own (seriously I don’t think it ever kills anything). Salem and Rios are awesome characters and they have a proper ‘bromance’ going on which keeps you entertained if nothing else. The game is pretty much designed to be played co-op and you can reward your partner or bash them over the head if needs be. You also have to do things as a team like hoist your partner up a wall to cover you from up high or hold a shield and have your partner shoot everything from behind you. Working together is essential and there is not many better games in which to do that.

Verdict: Like with Gears of War, this is a game with the co-op aspect at the very core of the experience.

Lego Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Batman

Don't get any ideas Luke, she's your sister.

They’re silly, stupid, OTT and spoofs the respective franchises perfectly, whilst keeping to the original stories.  They’re also bloody hilarious while never uttering a single word. You get to play a vast selection of colourful characters, each with different abilities that require you them to work in sync to get through the levels. These games need no write up and if you’re now looking at this article and saying the words ‘it’s a kid’s game’ you really don’t know what you’re missing. Trust me when I say, playing the Lego games are some of the best times that I have had with another human being (not including the obvious).

Verdict: Great to play with a friend, but if you want these games for online play then look away, as for most of the Lego titles the co-op is local only. Also keep an eye out for Lego Harry Potter which is coming soon.

Resident Evil 5

Chris: 'My bicep is bigger than your head Sheva...'

Yet another helping of resident evil, only minus the zombies and the horror. Although this game isn’t like any of its predecessors, the split-screen/online co-op is thoroughly enjoyable once you get used to the controls. This game works far better in co-op, and even though there aren’t many things to do as a team, you really have to communicate while taking on enemies and bosses. The only atmosphere in the game is the overwhelming sense of urgency, making you work heavily as a team and that is why this is on the list, but if you want zombie carnage look elsewhere.

Verdict: Subtle use of co-op, but as enjoyable as any of the games on the list.

So, that’s my list of great co-op games and I know that you’re thinking I have missed a few. There are a few that maybe could have been considered, such as Modern Warfare 2, Rockband and the like; however that’s just the way it goes. Just for you guys (who are fussy) I will name a few more games for you to have a go on when you have finished the above ones.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (1&2): Reasonable co-op experiences, however the second is easily the better with its own separate co-op levels. Best played in a four (or more) man team, whilst drinking.
Rainbow Six Vegas (1&2): Both games co-op components follow the story missions, but the enemy AI is frustrating at times.
Kane and Lynch: Dead Men: Fun till the novelty wears off and has little or no replay value. Also tries to be like the movie HEAT, minus the class.
Crackdown: Brilliant game but no split-screen, you need two Xbox’s and two copies.
The Simpsons game: Tries to be like the Lego series. Only mildly amusing, but worth trying though.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3: Only worth it for fans of the series but it’s good fun. Once again, no split-screen, although would have proven to be difficult to implement.
Conflict: Denied Ops: This is the ‘avoid at all costs’ title that you only try in extreme times of desperation. It is however on the better end of the spectrum of some of the bad co-op games.