The resulting cooperative play and heavy teamwork was near-addictive, and although later trumped by the online adventure SOCOM, Red Faction II became the battleground from which two champions were born. Being able to tackle advanced AI that learned your tactics gave more meaning to each win (or loss), especially when the teams were tilted in the AI's favor. Two side-by-side buddies fragging the crap out of eight nasty, computer-controlled shootists beats plodding the levels of Onimusha any day. I'm sorry; it just does.
Red Faction II made dual-wielding cool long before Halo 2 did.
Following Red Faction II by a month, EA's 007 shooter Nightfire also opted against online play for splitscreen multiplayer with customizable bots, although not to the same degree. Now, Epic Games is probably the most prominent user of bots - including them in both Unreal Tournament III and the offline multiplayer modes in Gears of War 2 - but most developers are gravitating toward matchmaking systems. It's a bit of a shame, really, because bot matches were a good way to play a multiplayer game with a couch co-op twist. Today, we refer to bot matches as comp stomping...but for the most part that refers to the real-time strategy genre.
Some of my favorite gaming memories are rooted in local bot matches on a Saturday morning, pizza in hand and root beer standing by. Red Faction II headlined those memories, but recent years have seen the convenience of online gaming take over couch co-op. As 2009 was the year of co-op games, 2010 seems to be good breeding grounds for us to put the spotlight on the simple pleasure of splitscreen games and create some new offline memories.