Preview | 7/22/2008 at 1:38 PM

Co-Optimus Hands On Co-Op Games E3 Wrap-Up

LEGO Batman
PS3, 360, Wii
2 Player Co-Op

LEGO Batman won't shock anyone with it's gameplay or style, but what it does offer that's new to genre (is LEGO a genre?) is worthy. Besides Batman and Robin as playable characters, players will use Villains through certain sections of the game. Each villain has their own unique super power, while Batman and Robin can change powers by using different suits. Of course the game has co-op (no online co-op though -boooooo ), and there's even some co-op vehicles. One of these was a helicopter that allowed one player to fly and the other to swing from the bottom taking out enemies. The game should drop the end of September.

Someone asked them why there was no online co-op and they said that when getting data back from SW: The Complete Saga, they noticed no one was really using it. Honestly, that's no excuse, and I really hated to hear there was no online co-op in this. Removing features is never a good thing IMO, but we'll take any co-op over no co-op.

PS3, 360, PC
4 Player Co-Op

In our hands on time with the upcoming flight game from Ubisoft we didn't find a whole lot of ground breaking features. If you like games like Ace Combat you will be right at home here, though the one unique feature is a really slick camera system that makes flying and maneuvers really easy to pull off. The developers promised 4 player drop in and drop out co-op with enemy AI that will scale. The story of the game will be tightly integrated into other Tom Clancy products, so expect some cross over.

Saint's Row 2
PS3, 360, PC
2 Player Co-Op

Saint's Row 2 is going to be a completely over the top open world style crime game with literally hundreds of hours of gameplay. Whether it's the game's core story, one of the 20 mini games, or any of the numerous side missions there's going to be plenty to do in the game, and it can all be done co-op. I think Saint's Row 2 is really going to set the bar for co-op play in terms of features. Of course the game will feature drop in and drop out play as well as cut scenes tailored to the individual player in co-op, but what really stands out is the co-op progression. You see, say you join a friends game and they are a few missions ahead of you. You guys work through the missions, you stop and later on you want to play the game solo. Instead of forcing the player to complete the same missions over, the game will give you the option to skip them.

Saint's Row 2 is completely over the top in both violence, dialogue and look. In fact, at one point we saw the player change into a giant hot dog costume and procede through a gritty cut scene chasing down some gangs...all while looking like a giant hot dog. It was hilarious. The game will hit store shelves on October 14th, 2008.

Dawn of War 2

2 Player Co-Op

Dawn of War was one of those game that sort of slipped under the radar for me, but after seeing Dawn of War II I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen. From the developers of Company of Heroes the Dawn sequel is chocked full of similarities and improvements on that formula. One thing I really liked was the focus on small squads of players and growing experience. Each one of your squad leaders carries from mission mission gaining levels and items, and unlocking abilities as you progress. The missions are all small scale as well with no more than 4 squads per mission, so there's some strategy involved before deciding who to send down to a planet for a battle. The developers have tried to go for an open mission formula, and even failing a mission doesn't mean you'll lose the game. Graphically the game looked gorgeous and gory with really intense battles and bodies and limbs flying everywhere. The terrain is even deformable and can be used as cover.


While the developers weren't giving a whole lot of detail in regards to the game's co-op mode, they did let a bit of information slip. In fact, like another THQ title (Saints Row 2) the game would feature the ability to save your single player progress in the co-op mode, this way you didn't have to replay missions over and over. I was also told that it would be extremely easy to jump in and out of co-op campaigns between players. Finally it appears (though not confirmed) that each player would have control over their own squads for a more grander scale battle during co-op play. Look for this title sometime next spring, and look for more co-op info "soon."

Resistance 2

8 Player Co-Op

While Resistance 2 will boast a strong single player story, the 8-player co-op mode will have it's own unique campaign. The story puts you behind enemy lines as you and your squad gather enemy intelligence, which I believe is code for kill everything that moves. There are three classes to choose from; medic, spec ops and soldier, and each one lets you level up each one the more you play it. Levels will be randomized to maximize replayability, and enemy difficulty will scale according to the number of players. There's also support for drop in and drop out play which we believe every co-op game should have. Finally, the one interesting aspect of it will be loot that enemies will drop giving this first person shooter a more action rpg feel. Look for this title Holiday of this year.

Halo Wars

2 Player Co-Op

While the boys at Ensemble studios couldn't tell me too much detail about the co-op mode, I did managed to pry some information about it out of them. They promised the mode wouldn't be tacked on and it would be tightly integrated into the game's experience.

Of course with any RTS on a console there's the ever bounding the controls work? They do. There, I said it. No, wait...the controls REALLY work. It took me less than 5 minutes to understand the control concepts of Halo Wars and they are spot on. What Ensemble has done is taken away the need to point and select individual units, and instead utilized a quick trigger style system. Obviously you can still select a single group of units with the A button, or hold the A button down to paint select a group of units, but the real trick is using the trigger based system. Want to select all units on the entire map? Left Bumper. All units on the screen? Right Bumper. The real beauty comes in the sub select option that is available when you have more than one unit select, simply click the left or right trigger to cycle through individual groups and issue commands to a single group with an entire larger group selected. It just works. There's also a handful of hot keys to get to things like last notification, bases and point of action. We got to play a small 2 vs. 2 skirmish mission against the AI, and thanks to my masterful understanding of the battlefield quickly mopped up the enemy. I was particularly impressed with both the aerial bombardment and MAC cannon effects. Seriously folks, the controls work.

Fable 2

2 Player Co-Op

Peter Molyneaux let out a pseudo-bombshell at the Microsoft Press conference when he unveiled Fable 2's online co-op mode. The unique aspect of it displays orbs floating around your world that represent exactly where your friends are in the game that are currently playing. Simply walk up to an orb and invite a friend in, in a completely seamless experience.

During my hands on time with the game I've learned one thing, this is an open world game. It's not some linear adventure game, in fact, I dare say it's one of the most unique and in depth open world games to come around in quite some time. Not only can you buy and sell properties in the game, but you can affect the housing market and the economy of villages by doing certain things. You can also get one of many jobs in the game to earn money (bartender, woodsman, blacksmith, etc) as well as gamble in pub games (the ones coming to XBLA) to earn money. If all that wasn't enough there's an entire Sims like social interface throughout the game with every character. Besides the player character changing its appearance due to good and evil deeds, the character will also change based on his/her social status and financial status. There's simply too many small little details in this game to list in a one paragraph preview, but I will say that games combat is fairly simple, but it is satisfying, especially when you begin to combo the spells. Graphically the game looks gorgeous, and in the demo areas I played there was virtually no slowdown. According to Molyneaux the game is "done" so we can expect to see it sometime this October.