With A Little Help From My Wingman

Any minute now... fluffy bunnies and unicorns are going to appear in the distance, just wait and see...

Energon-this. Energon-that. Those Decepticons don’t talk about anything else. If only one enterprising Transformer would start the Scottish and Southern Energon company and distribute the energy efficiently it would save all these frantic battles and the lives of countless unnamed, unappreciated robot soldiers. No, I haven’t decided to become an alien peacekeeper. I simply chose to purchase a game that is outside of my comfort zone; something I wouldn’t even normally register was on the shelves. My impulse buy of choice was Transformers: War For Cybertron. I won’t review it, I know it’s not aimed at me as I seem to be spending half the time wondering if there’s cute little baby Transformers hidden away or a planet full of lilac glittery fembots awaiting the day their menfolk return. I do, however, usually think it’s good to broaden your horizons and a little variety is always a postitive thing.

After playing through the first Decepticon chapter I realised the error of my ways. Perhaps with games I should stick with what I know. I was not enjoying myself at all. It was chaotic; I didn’t know where to go, one of the robots talks funny and I couldn’t understand him, ammo ran out at an alarming rate and my superpower seemed to involve my robo-shoes leaking a bit of blue light as I ran forwards slightly quicker for 0.25 seconds. After completing that mission I ripped the game from my beloved Xbox and contemplated getting on my knees and begging the Asda Entertainment Desk for a refund.

Oh yeah hi... refund for Transformers please... or my friends here *backwards nod* start shooting shit up

What has saved this game was an offer from our very own Lee to help me through it on co-op. Despite it being the same infuriating game with its unvarying, monotonous levels, it became fun. I had somebody else ranting about the negatives of the game, to show me what to do or give advice on beating a boss, to laugh at me and my foolhardy deaths or provide a few amusing demises of their own. Co-op is often the cherry on top of a delicious cream filled cake. Left 4 Dead would still be enjoyable and a very good game if it only consisted of single player campaign and Versus multiplayer, but adding co-op raises it to a whole new level. Red Dead Redemption had so much going on with its release, single player campaign, free roam and multiplayer modes. The later tacking on of the free co-op DLC just added to its greatness.

This isn’t always the case. Transformers isn’t the first time enlisting the help of a friend has gotten me through a game I would otherwise have left to gather dust. I completed a bulk of Gears of War 2 on my own but it was thanks to online co-op and split screen that I made it through to the finale. Saints Row 2 would also have sat half-played if it weren’t for the hilarity and high jinx that went on in co-op mode. The Lego series of games are another that benefit hugely from the introduction of a wingman. I had tried Indiana Jones by myself and found it charmingly average but when I recently had the opportunity of co-op, it came into its own. I now have a shiny, new copy of Lego Harry Potter sat here waiting for the right person to visit so it can be played. A game I may consider to be a turkey can be transformed into a slap-up sunday roast with all the trimmings once co-op comes into play.

My bet is that he wouldn't be doing that if he didn't give in to that sales guy and buy kick ass insurance

I have sat and debated purchasing Crackdown 2 for these very reasons. I played the demo a handful of times and it never grew on me. I felt disconnected from the combat, got bored of constant leveling up, the narrator grated on my nerves and found the graphics a bit “previous gen” despite not being a graphics whore. The argument about how there’ll be so many more enemies on the screen doesn’t wash with me. It only means more respawns while I attempt to take them all on. I may bitch and moan but underneath all that is a game with huge explosions where I can throw trucks at my friends, and that’s what really matters. I have my fingers crossed that the power of co-op works its magic again on another potentially very so-so game. I hope over the next week I’m eating my words and literally having a blast in the game. Be seeing you in Pacific City agents!

Last five articles by Kat



  1. Adam says:

    Yay for Co-op-y goodness :D

    Every game is made better by having the ability to struggle through together. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad, when the companys good, you can forgive the rest. I’d never have kept going this far on RDR without you. It”s a shame that LEGO HP just isn’t net compatible, guess i’ll just have to book a spot on your sofa *sigh*

    Oh and I now want Sunday Dinner. Gee Thanks Kat!

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I can almost empathise with you here, but not entirely. If my choice is between playing single player or multi player, then I’ll always opt for the single player outing… not because I’m antisocial, but because it’s just how I prefer to play. There’s less responsibility involved when you’re just playing the game for your own enjoyment and not having to worry about another bunch of people who may die because of your failings, or fail because of you dying. There’s also that problem where, having spent all of your time playing a game in single player mode, you end up being invited to a multi player outing where you’re…. oh… shall we say level SIX while everyone else is at least double your level and some are level THIRTY or even FIFTY. I’m not citing last night’s Red Dead Redemption (that’s REDEMPTION, Victor) experience as an example by the way. Honest.

    Having said that, I did actually play through Borderlands on single player… and would have played through to the end… but then ended up in a multi player environment and had a lot more “fun” from it. The game itself didn’t become more fun, but the experience did. It never once altered my enjoyment of the game but my enjoyment of the time SPENT playing the game was increased dramatically. Now, it’s odd going back to Borderlands on my own because I’m used to having others around me screaming and laughing… and getting me killed while they whore chests ;)

    You know who you are.

  3. Lee says:

    you cant play lego potter online co op this makes me sad :( and i’ve played that game for ages and not got a single achievement yet this also makes me sad :(

    The nolvety of transformers has started to wear thin on me now it feels like a grind but i’ve past the point of no return so I need to finish it. My wingman doesnt find it at all funny when i shout “you fail me again star scream” everytime they die and the transformer you cant understand kat is called soundwave.

    I get what your saying and your right, co-op can make the crapist game fun.

  4. Pete says:

    I’m kinda with you there Kat! GTA IV is a good game but got kinda dull quickly… the multiplayer part made it shine the couple of times I did join in :) Borderlands too is enhanced by “co-op-y goodness” as Adam called it! It’s great letting your team mate distract the baddies so you can open a few crates! ;)

    I haven’t played the Lego games on co-op yet but I can see how they’d be a giggle! I’ve been threatening Toni with a playthrough together on Lego Star Wars but haven’t got round to it yet :D it is a shame they’re not online co-op-atible though :( Like Lee, that makes me sad!

  5. Victor Victor says:

    There is no need to announce to the world that the reason I didn’t snag a copy before they all sold out is because I asked for Red Dead Revolver, rather than Redemption, is there, MarkuzR? What’s that? I announced it to the world myself?


    But yes, co-op makes any game much, much better. Sometimes I rope in Mrs Van to help out on games, where the challenge consists of pressing one button only. Like Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. Funnily enough, roping in a non-gamer does not actually make a game more fun. Just means I don’t have to control two characters. One with my hands and one with my feet. It also amuses me that Lee is the person that stopped Kat from grovelling on her hands and knees. For some reason. Can’t quite verbalise why.

    But roll on Crackdown 2. I want to play that with my man, Mr Cuddleswick.

  6. Richie blucey says:

    I love a bit of co-op. It makes everything better. Admittedly aspects of the story can be lost under the chit-chat but most of the stories are rubbish anyway. Saints Row 2, Rainbow 6 Vegas, GRAW, Two Worlds and Kingdom Under Fire are all immeasurably better in co-op mode.

    Good article, Kat.

  7. Kat says:

    @Adam My sofa has your name on it. Literally. People will think I’m strange. It’s in your best interests to cook the sunday lunch yourself though ;)

    @Mark Bloody Borderlands! Meant to include that example. It was tons better in co-op for me but even then I still never finished it.

    @Lee Your robot voice has me in stitches, honest, maybe the mic doesn’t pick it up… :P

    @Pete Aww def give it a play through with Toni. I only did a small part of Indiana Jones in co-op but it was great fun. Hence now pimping my sofa out to Adam :D

    @Van Revolver? You plonker.

    @Blucey Ta muchly. Good point about the story but I’d hardly pay attention to it in single player either lol

  8. Iain says:

    I’m a bit on the fence with co-op games really. The few times I’ve played co-op have always been good fun, but I usually enjoy playing alone. Occasionally a game like L4D or Borderlands comes along, a game specifically designed for co-op, with a seemingly tacked on singleplayer version and they always seem so empty when playing alone, forcing me to become sociable…

  9. Samuel The Preacher says:

    Good article, Kat, I prefer to play single-player, as I believe is well known, but on rare occasions multiplayer can be a huge amount of fun because of who you’re playing with. I didn’t like Borderlands, it seemed a bit shit to me, like Diet Fallout 3, or Fallout Zero or something. By which I mean, it had less going for it, it wasn’t as sweet by far, and I spat it back out, just like any given diet version of the soft drink of your choice. But despite that I enjoyed the time I spent playing it with Mark and Pete, simply because of the level disparity and the silly shit they’d get me into. It was an odd experience.

    It’s starting to happen for games I actually like too. Like Red Dead. I’ve had huge amounts of fun playing with everyone, all people who I know from the site here, but some of whom I may not have known as well as others. I normally might not go out of my way to play with some of them. Started out small, just Iain and Mark, then started playing with Lee and you, and culminating in last night’s insanity. For me that’s a very fast progression, I tend to take things slower and get used to it more, but in spite of that I was grinning like a twat when we finished last night. It’s adding some new dimension to my enjoyment, that I never expected. As you say, Kat, a little variety is a positive thing.

  10. M@thew says:

    Reading the comments, like most if given the option, I’d prefer to play a real single player experience. Don’t get me wrong, I do like to fondle others, but I prefer to keep the two experiences separate. When multiplayer becomes the defining characteristic of a video game, especially the core experience, things can get a little messy. It always feels like I’m missing out because of my lone wolf attitude.

    Resident Evil for 5 is a good example. Sheva exists solely so your mates from school can join in with you. With them, you’ve got someone loudly telling you about their day while you’re trying to kick ass and bust some heads; Without them, you get an ammo hungry AI donkey. Not exactly ideal.

    It’s nice to have the option of course, I can’t argue against that, but I’d much rather more time was spent fleshing out the hot single male experience, than tacking on some component people are going to be bored of within a week of playing. Take a look at the co-op titles that have come out within the last couple of years. How many friendlies on your list still play it today?
    If you can’t convince your partner to spend a romantic night in, you’re then forced to play with a bunch of randoms. And we all know what they’re like! Have you tried working as a team with these people? We live in an age where a competitive game of capture the flag relies more on luck than it does strategy. I don’t want these people in my single player house, touching my single player stuff.

    In any case, that was a great read Kat, and an even better discussion piece (you wafer thin chocolate biscuit). You’ve given us lots to think about! :)

  11. Pete says:

    We never got you into silly shit Preacher ;) Not once :D Honest!! *coughs*

  12. Samuel The Preacher says:

    Driving off cliffs, picking fights with massive colonies of house-sized spiderants, picking fights with house-sized mutants, picking fights with fire-breathing moths that could swallow the house-sized spiderants and mutants with room for seconds, running halfway across the game world to get away from you trying to duel me… etc etc etc, heh heh.

  13. Lorna Lorna says:

    I’m more of a lone gamer and get stroppy when games I’m interested in come with multiplayer achievements becuase it means actually finding someone to game with and then making the effort to sort out a session, which usually never happens. However, hearing you talk about Left 4 Dead has actually piqued my interest a little, despite it being a shooter which I usually avoid like the plague. I will, at some point, get into the RDR sessions but at the mo, I’m working on a huge Alan Wake piece and struggling to balance apathy with a looming writing deadline :( Then by the time I do get onto RDR, you bastards will all be level 1 million and I’ll be spending most of my time running away….

    Really enjoyed this btw :) Sukka for buying a Transformers game… :D

  14. Dave Cook says:

    War for Cybertron is a great gane if you were a fan of the original cartoon. As licensed tie-ins go, it’s definitely one of the best.

    You definitely have to fit into that 25-30 year old demographic to truly appreciate the fan service. I liked it when you mentioned that one of the transformers ‘talked funny’. You’re right the acting is so ham-fisted, the game may as well be labelled unsuitable for vegetarians, but it’s that same ridiculous cheesiness that was present in the cartoon.

    It’s an office favourite at nowgamer/gamestm/play/x360 but maybe that proves that were all gettin old? :/

    Anyways, great read :)


  15. Kat says:

    It means you’re “retro”, not old lol Definitely in agreement with you there, I’m not really the target market for them! :D If they ever realise my dream of creating She-Ra: The Game then I’ll be all over it!

  16. Just a quick note…or nod as it were
    Far be it from me to interject and add anything less than a commment to compliment your, how can i put it?…twisted narrative Genius?
    I heard someone mention gaming lives and promptly (and somewhat pointlessly) added “there someone on my twitter whose and author on there”, now to really feel the truly awesome way i conveyed this message, twas with a mouthful of curly fries and staring blankly at my game collection, looking for something to play.
    So off I tottered with the sole purpose of finding out who exactly it was on my list who mentioned…well this site (the name escaped me momentarily and my patience to scroll has long since abandoned me).

    Anyway that’s how I got here now the topic at hand, I don’t usually read peoples articles, which is wrong be a fair few people read mine i should really give something back…hmmm ANYWAY i found myself unable to stop reading. Love your writing style and you should definitely write more.
    This is a broad comment because i am giving credit for all your articles which i methodically sat and read. Found laughing, disagreeing, agreeing and calling other authors from the Game arena office to read what you’d written.

    This in turn sparked multiple debates between us all regarding the “Killing taboo” in gaming, from naughty bears to Agent 47 Hit men, we all agree that the kill means little and the visceral outcome of the event is lost on quite a desensitized audience. Its all about the setup, the preparation if you will (Hitman being the prime example fo peoples opportunity to think like a killer). Was surprised just how many of our “lot” then tacked onto the end of their statements “yeah but the Gore is awesome fun” thus nulling most of their sensible preachy ramblings. i Digress…
    Like i say, love the way you write, please do more!
    Craig (Chaos NJ) & Thegamearena.co.uk

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