Mackenzie’s Musings: Multiplayer
What do you define as multiplayer? I know that may sound like a ridiculous question but think about it. Is it sitting in a room surrounded by other people huddled around a screen? Is it sitting on your own whilst communicating to people from all over the world through a microphone? Is it a competitive or relaxed experience? Arguably it is a whole mixture of these things, but I’m sure many can imagine their own ‘multiplayer’ experiences and what the term means to them.
Personally Xbox Live springs instantly to mind. Sitting in parties with friends and playing against a whole variety of people from all walks of life. Recently however, I have been put into a situation where internet gaming and console communication is unavailable. There have been times where I thought ‘what the hell am I going to do now?’ and frustratingly tried every which way to somehow get my system working. I had been so used to being able to contact the world with the touch of a button that I felt sad (in a very nerdy way) that I could no longer do this. So I resorted to playing games with my mates, namely Call of Duty. It was then that I was thrown back to the time before I discovered the strange world of online gaming, a world that currently dominates and almost controls the industry today. I started to take joy in single-player gaming again. Started new games on GTA and Mass Effect, giving me more time to sit by myself and really immerse myself in the whole narrative. Now I’m sure online gamers also do this, but for me, as such an online-addict, it was rather refreshing. It reminded me of times where achievements were not important and you could spend hours shouting at your friends sitting right next to you, simply for beating you on a game.
This isn’t to say online multiplayer is crap. Far from it in fact! Online multiplayer has done wonders for the gaming industry and has led to some of the funniest gaming moments of my life, possibly even some of the best. That’s exactly why I miss it. I know there are also friends out there who I simply won’t talk to as much just because I can’t get online. I also can’t download any extra content or demos (which really pisses me off), thus making some purchases a bit of a stab in the dark. Online multiplayer is simply a different type of multiplayer.
I believe, as gamers, we live in a very Online Multiplayer based world. For companies multiplayer seems to take the reigns and really drives the whole gaming experience, in some cases leaving the single-players in the dark. Games where isolation and in-depth narration are meant to stand tall come with multiplayer modes, such as Dead Space 2 and Condemned 2. In a way, for me, this ruins the whole ‘you’re on your own and must survive’ element of such games. As well as multiplayer can be implemented into these games it can feel to detract something. I have great respect for such games such as Fallout 3 and other wonderful (usually RPG) titles. These games often capture a fantastic experience but offer something a little bit more for those who have access to the internet on their consoles. There is no need to add multiplayer because it simply isn’t needed, not even for a few more bucks. Admittedly there have been numerous times where me and my mates have gone ‘OMG OBLIVION WITH MULTIPLAYER WOULD BE TEH BEST LOLOLOLOL’, but even then it’s not a rubbish game without it.
I suppose my real question is which is the superior? Both online multiplayer and offline multiplayer/singleplayer have brilliant advantages and some crippling disadvantages. One the one hand, for online, you have a whole selection of options when it comes to multiplayer, some may even argue that you NEED online in order to experience games fully, but it’s full of annoying bastards and can become frustrating and mundane quickly. Offline multiplayer is brilliant for just having a laugh, sitting back and relaxing, but as a gamer you are incredibly limited in terms of options. It’s a toughie and everyone will have their preferences. Modern gamers will no doubt prefer online ten folds, whereas retro gamers may prefer a slightly more intimate arse-kicking. Personally I find online gaming, since it has drained a farcical amount of my time, a much fuller experience, and that there is really only so much you can do offline.
What about you? What would you define as multiplayer? Which is the better, Online or Offline? Do you have any particular dear multiplayer memories? Pop your thoughts in comment box below!