Co-Op Couples: Playing on a Budget
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Co-Op Couples: Playing on a Budget

"We're on a budget." Oi, I hate that phrase. To everyone else it pretty well retains its literal meaning, but for the people saying it there's an ulterior meaning: "We fight about money."

And that happens a lot. Rare is the couple wherein both parties are completely comfortable keeping separate finances. But what if you didn't have a choice? Enter Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2.

As you probably already know, my wife was a big fan of the first Ultimate Alliance; getting coaxed into playing the sequel with her was inevitable (as if I needed much coaxing). What wasn't expected was the health/revive function - your team can collect a maximum of two revives, which double as instant maximum health refills. It's a powerful feature, but can be used by literally any human player. Imagine two couples - two seasoned gamers and two amateurs - wading into battle with the conglomerate power to max out their own health at any time...but only twice.

"Were these costumes on sale? I thought we were going to wait until the next payday..."

The dilemma is this: in a battle that lasts less than a minute and is followed up by smashable boxes full of health orbs, the chances of really needing a health refill on Ultimate Alliance 2 are pretty slim. However, one freak happenstance or extended battle can put a player completely out of play until the entire stage is over; obviously, a revive is more helpful in making sure that all four people are given the maximum amount of play time.

Those two power-ups represent a very limited budget. And when one person is willing to spend what the other may not be, the result is somewhat stressful and totally hilarious.

"Let it never be said that I didn't carry my weight around here."

Army of Two: The 40th Day is the same way with its morality choices, except that to a person with a heightened sense of morality and die-hard traditional human sympathies the result is a lot like buyer's remorse.

"Heather, let me hit the button, okay? I know what happens here."
Heather thinks for a second, then hits B. A cutscene ensues.
"What did you do that for? I just told you not to!"
"I didn't want you to shoot him. He's just an old man doing his job."
The cutscene continues.
"Wait a second...I saved his life, and he's selling guns to the bad guys!"
"I told you..."
"That's not right. Screw this. You and your stupid games."
"Thanks a lot, baby. Now I can't unlock the 416 rifle and you're walking out on me!"

It's enough to require therapy.

Now, from a Co-Op Couples standpoint...this is something we can work on. It's apparent that two people on a budget with equal access need to cooperate more when playing those particular kinds of games. It's the kids I'm worried about. Granted, we have a few more years before they'll be playing these games with their parents, but holy's like taking my wife and kids to the mall, and giving them all a checkbook.

I may have to rethink this whole gaming family thing.

"No, son. No Disney Store this time. Let's go."

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