So what is Indie-ana Co-Op? From time-to-time on Co-Optimus, we’ve highlighted and even reviewed some independent co-op titles for the PC and Xbox LIVE Indie Games Channel: games like Sol Survivor, Quad Force, and Guns of Icarus. As the world of independent titles grows, so too has the number of independent co-op titles and we figured it was time to start shedding some light on all the other indie co-op titles that are out there - and that’s exactly what this new bi-weekly feature will do. We’ll delve into the world of independently developed co-op titles for the PC and Xbox LIVE Indie Games Channel to let you know what titles are out there and what kind of co-op they have to offer. This feature won’t be any kind of formal review of the games, but more of an open discussion of their features and some of their strengths and weaknesses.
As time goes on, we hope this feature will grow into more. We’ve enjoyed previous conversations we’ve had with independent co-op developers, and we hope to not only continue to provide interviews with them, but maybe even get a few of them to be guest writers to discuss their views on co-op gaming or how the development of a co-op title works. In the spirit of independent development and co-op gaming, we’d also like to open this feature up to our community. If you have any ideas or suggestions for independent co-op titles that you think should be featured, or for something you’d like to see done in this feature, let us know. You can PM me directly through the forums, or e-mail our tips address with your ideas and suggestions.
For the first of these features, we’ll be taking a look back at some of the independent titles we’ve previously covered to provide a bit of an idea of what to expect from this feature going forward. We certainly hope you’ll enjoy this new feature, and we promise to keep the Indiana Jones quotes and references to a minimum.
AI War for PC
AI War certainly looks like a typical RTS at first glance. You gather resources (metal, crystal, energy, and knowledge in this case), build ships, use a tech tree to upgrade units and unlock new ones, direct your fleet of ships against the enemy, and watch from a distance as the two fleets duke it out. However, AI War does away with the typical RTS convention of seeing who can get the most resources first and build up the most forces by removing the one element in that scenario that makes it so stale and repetitive: the resources. "But wait," you might be saying, "didn’t you just say you gather resources??" Yes, you do. The AI, however, doesn’t. It starts off every campaign with all of the ships and resources it needs to wipe you out. In fact, if the computer decided to, it could eliminate you at the very start of a campaign in the blink of an eye. This slight shift, something that to me, as long time RTS player, seems so obvious and simple that I can’t believe it hasn’t been done before to this degree, turns AI War from a typical RTS into a constant struggle for survival against what can be two difficult and crafty opponents. "Comp stomp" is thrown out the window and replaced with an overall structure that is closer to an action/adventure game where, as you progress further, you gain new abilities and more powers, but the computer has more ships (some of which you can’t even build) and new tactics to throw at you as well. This is where playing with a friend, or two, or seven, really pays off.
Square Off for XBLIG
Co-op in Square Off is particularly helpful and an enjoyable experience, even when your co-op buddy is of the more casual persuasion. Not only does co-op give the enemy aliens, which swarm your Square Avenger, additional targets to split them up - but they are easier to defeat when you and a buddy (or, buddies) attack from multiple angles with different weapons. You can also accidentally shoot your buddies with no consequence to their health bar (except with bombs, those hurt everyone), but you can’t fly through one-another. So, beware of how you use space. I have to admit, the challenge was there - and I found myself wanting to get to the next stage, wanting to play that boss that had beaten us 10 times in a row, even after my co-op buddy was ready to go to bed. Square Off was a grand time, and I look forward to playing more of it with my online co-op friends.