Co-op gaming is becoming more and more popular with gaming communities and the outcry for it can be heard across the internet. Fortunately for gamers, more companies are listening to us and co-op modes are becoming at least a little bit more common in games. At the Sierra 2008 release event, a lot of single player games were shown to us, but I did not let that fool me. Plenty of these games have some great (and not so great) co-op features as well; ready to whet to the appetite of the game who wants to help his friends instead of hurt them.
50 Cent - Blood on the Sand
Developer: Swordfish Studios
Projected Release: Fall 2008
Platforms: PS3, XBox 360
Last year I was introduced to my favorite cooperative mode yet in Gears of War. The ability to drop in and out as a game was going on was just stellar, and while the lack of multiple save files was a bit annoying, even for a short game, it made casual co-op a quick, simple thing. Swordfish Studios obviously liked the idea, because that's exactly what they are doing with Blood on the Sand.
You play as 50 Cent (of course) and are always accompanied by one of the G-Unit on your adventures through Middle Eastern cities. At any point, a friend can jump in with you and help wipe away the competition, and leave when they feel they've had enough of throwing out momma jokes in stereo. Yes, you get to verbally taunt your enemies. When a friend enters, the difficulty is ramped up to match your combined intelligence, when they leave they get a little dumber again. There's even certain doors to new areas and hidden rooms that require two players to open, but don't worry. Even if your gaming bud leaves you hanging the G-Unit has your back in it's CPU controlled glory the entire time.
Legend of Spyro: Darkest Hour
Developer: Estranges Libellules (Strange Dragonfly)
Projected Release: October 2008
Platforms: PS3, XBox 360, Wii, DS, PS2
You ever think that Spyro needed two dragons, one of which a friend could control? Well, your dream is now a reality. Spyro will not only rely on players using both dragons in single player, but when two players play together they don't even have to switch. One player will get control over Spyro, while the second will control his formally evil counterpart, Cinder.
Again, combat will be much more interesting with two players. You can play locally or over Live! or the PSN (no word on any online for the Wii, PS2 or DS). When on a local game, players will share the same screen so you won't have to deal with any crazy split screen real estate issues. And really, what's better than two dragons who can control earth, wind and fire? Oh yeah, a dragon who can also use poison! Rock band references ahoy!
Developer: Terminal Reality
Projected Release: Halloween 2008
Platforms: PS3, XBox 360, Wii, PS2, PC
What could be better than busting ghosts with a friend? Not much as long as no streams are crossed, but unfortunately for Ghostbusters it doesn't sound like you will be busting many ghosts with anyone else.
At the time that I write this, there are two co-op modes planned for the game. A set of special co-op missions, similar to Turok, and a co-op "gotta bust 'em all" mode where you and a friend catch as many ghosts as you can. Yeah, that's it. What could be a fun multiplayer experience is going to be very limited, sad to say.
Assault Heroes 2
Developer: Wanako Studios
Projected Release: Summer 2008
XBLA games just scream to have co-op modes. Assault Heroes is something that lends itself so well to co-op, you would have to wonder if they decided not to include it. But have no fear, they did. It lends it self very well to this simple, 2 player mode. So much so you could almost say it was designed for it.
Both players pilot similar vehcles through the Smash TV inspired stages, and even do some work together on foot. If you need cover fire, let your partner know, soldier! Hey, no napping on duty. Your buddy is gonna need all the help he can get to survive this alien invasion.
Developer: Frozen Codebase
Projected Release: Late Summer 2008
I love me some Gauntlet. What could be better? 3D Gauntlet with zombies and crazy kids with zombie annihilating weaponry, that's what! And throwing in a goofy, campy atmosphere doesn't hurt at all either.
Of course, each of the 4 character have their own strengths, just like our good friend Gauntlet. You can play as Moica, Uju, Amy or Dean, and whom ever you do not play can be played by your friends. If you want classic arcade style gameplay in a deeper, brightly wrapped package, this is it. A brightly wrapped package that hungers for brains, that is.
Considering that Sierra was showing off a pretty large selection of games and this many included at least some form of co-op, the future is looking good for those folks you want to fight foes together. If this selection is any indication, we'll be awash with cooperative goodness in the comind year.