So after a long hiatus from writing (I’m blaming the combination of a broken finger and an even more broken laptop), I thought it was about time I bored the internet with my thoughts
again. The basis for this blog struck me a few weeks ago – those of you not living under a rock will, of course, realise that this was slap bang in the middle of the PSN down time.
A lot of the complaints that I heard from PS3 owning friends is that they were unable to play with their friends on games of choice – be it the irrepressible charms of CODBLOPS, or the hotly anticipated co-op campaign of Portal 2 (especially with the teaser of cross-platform Steam support). This prompted a thought process in my mind – how did we ever cope before the internet existed?
My earliest memories of multiplayer action actually aren’t of multiplayer at all – when I was a fresh faced cherub, playing Sonic 2 on the Master System, my little brother would always want to join in. Obviously, I wouldn’t let him – big brother’s prerogative – but at 5 years old, you have to acquiesce when your mum tells you to play nice. So, I got creative.
I’d plug in the second controller (which happened to be the Master System flight stick), and hand it to my brother, telling him that he was controlling the bad guys. Now, I could merrily go about my business of failing to collect the chaos emeralds, while simultaneously keeping my mum and brother happy and secretly feeling that smug satisfaction that a clever deception always brings.
Multiplayer then grew into genuinely playing games with other people – usually perched on the end of a bed in a friend’s room, noses inches from the screen. My friends and I grew up on Road Rash, FIFA and Streets of Rage, before moving on as we grew into kidulthood to the golden age of gaming – Gran Turismo, Mario Kart 64, GoldenEye, ISS Pro, TimeSplitters and all the other multiplayer classics.
The unifying factor in all of this? We were always in the same room, playing on the same TV, punching each other and laughing hysterically while sharing the experience. We didn’t have to wait while Colin’s router reset, we didn’t have to put up with Andrew lagging out every three seconds because his brother was downloading illicit material – we would walk in, plug in controllers, and proceed to shout ourselves hoarse.
Of course, we could still do that these days. We could, but not nearly as easily. Fewer and fewer games are offering split screen support, and even some of those that do are gimping the modes offered. I recently played a split screen game of CODBLOPS with the same guys that I used to play Timesplitters 2 (the pinnacle of FPS’ing, and I won’t hear an argument against that) with back in the day. It was obvious from the word go that the split screen was an afterthought – all the design effort had gone in to the grinding, addictive world of online multiplayer. Convoluted menus delayed starting games, while giant maps diluted the multiplayer experience.
Don’t get me wrong; online multiplayer is great. Now that we’re all grown up, we can’t spend every afternoon in someone’s bedroom in front of a TV with the curtains drawn. Online functionality means we get to play together even when we’re spread across the country. But the hysteria that accompanied the PSN downtime was incredible and, frankly, completely over the top. I took the opportunity to have a couple of friends in the same room as me and beat them at FIFA, again (some things never change), instead of bitching and moaning like a pissy little child on internet forums.
If you do one thing in the next month, do this – dust off your favourite multiplayer game, get some friends over, order a pizza and have some good, old fashioned fun. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Want to challenge me online? Find me on X360 @ iancox1986 or PS3 @ VinnyV86.
Alternatively, follow me on twitter! @SmallTownGamer