Can we play yet?
Ok, so now you got the goods to play the games. But what about the games themselves. There's a few co-op games you'll want to play with your friends who are also avoiding the holidays this year.
For a game that took over 10 years to make, it sure doesn't seem all that different on the surface. The reality of it is - it doesn't need to be. It's a tried and true formula that's great to play with friends. Three folks can cooperate online in comp stomp fashion - and scalability means you don't need the fastest PC in existence to run the game.
Do you enjoy your family and friends? If you do, kiss them goodbye, unless you can get them to play Civilization V with you. This game has the uncanny ability to actual alter the space time continuum. You'll be building a Civilization from ancient times all the way to the modern era, research technologies, conquering others, and listening to Morgon Sheppard tell you about the history of the world.
Co-Op play allows you to team up with two other friends, share technology, and stick it to that bastard Gandhi.
Splinter Cell Conviction added a first for the series - a brand new story based co-op campaign that set up the single player story for the title. Two players control either Archer or Kestrel through a 6 hour campaign with plenty of excellent moments for team work. After that there's even bonus missions to and modes to play in co-op.
At some 6 months after release finding a deal on this excellent title shouldn't be too hard.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light ($14.99)
While Lara has had a long history on the PC, this release was a great departure for the series. It was the first time we saw Lara in a top down game that was a bit more action oriented. Still, puzzles played a crucial role, and the addition of another character for co-op play made this basically contain two games in one.
For $15 the game is a steal, and now with online co-op, you'll never be without your Totec.
Alien Swarm (FREE)
There are those that say the best things in life are free - and that may very well be the case for Alien Swarm, a free title available on Steam from Valve. Based on a Unreal MOD, Alien Swarm has players fighting for survival in a top down 4 player co-op game. You'll choose different classes that all must utilize their skills together to survive.
Best of all the game is ever expanding with a huge mod community with even more free downloads. You can snag Alien Swarm via Steam.
If you do happen to catch the "holiday spirit" and you didn't blow your entire budget on yourself - there is one gift you can give someone that would assure you are out of the Ghost of Christmas Future's sniper scope - and that's our recommended PC build. Yup - buy and build someone a PC and they'll be your co-op partner forever, at least until they do something to break it.
No Uncle Frank, I will not fix your computer.