In Search Of Local Co-Op

Okay now, deep breath. You can do this. You can. Squeeze the trigger. Gently now, you don’t want to go too fast. Good. Good. Now lean forward a bit. Good. Now – no wait, that’s bad! You’re going too fast. Ah crap. Better reset.

Alright, this time you’ve got it down. Just ease in nice and slow, and then roar up the ramp. Excellent, that’s gone really well. Now just ease down to the next check – damnit! So close. Reset.

You know this bit like the back of your hand, just ease in and – shit. Shit. That bit was so easy as well. Shit. Reset, I guess.

Nice and easy, just smash the gas pedal and shit. Shit, shit and shit. I should reset. Shit. I really don’t want to.

This string of thoughts is not an uncommon one whilst playing Trials HD, especially when you’re as bad at it as I am. Endless falls. Endless deaths. Endless resets. Playing the lower difficulties is not all that bad, but once I get to the harder tracks things tend to unravel. I just don’t have that magic touch, as my mauled and abused rider will happily tell you. Most likely at length.  Watching those little numbers flick up with every press of the B button was not only infuriating, but almost soul destroying. Every time I failed that same jump, that same obstacle that had defeated me time and time again, the game grew a little less fun for me. Every time I died I hated the game a little more.

But everything changed when the fire nation attacked.  Fine, okay, there was no vicious assault by a nation of pyromancers of a murderous bent. There was however, a rather entertaining evening playing Trials HD. A near juxtaposition, perhaps, but the reason I enjoyed it was not because of the game, but, rather, the people I was playing it with.  It’s not like I was succeeding in anything that I’d never managed to do before. They weren’t even levels that I’d never beaten before, but because of the fact that I was playing them with people that I enjoyed being around, who were good fun to play with, I enjoyed the game far more than I ever did alone.

I couldn’t say what it was. Maybe it was the torrent of abuse hurled after every mistake one of us made. Maybe it was the ridiculous prancing around the room after every track that we managed to scramble across the line on.  What I can say though, is that there is something wonderful about local multiplayer, something wonderful about sitting in a room with your best friends, laughing at each other’s mistakes and revelling in the joint successes we managed.

Playing with friends isn’t a new idea; it sure isn’t something that developers and producers have missed. Xbox built the success of their console on the strength of their multiplayer infrastructure. It quickly became known as the console to have if you wanted to play with your friends. Not only did this get them sales, but also proved that people would pay a bit extra in order to play with their mates.  In fact, everyone noticed that multiplayer was the way forward. Every game developer was suddenly trying to shoehorn online multiplayer into their games, often in games where it was completely unnecessary. Not only that, but all of a sudden games that really could have done with some local multiplayer were being released with crappy online instead.

The biggest culprit in this regard has to be this year’s reboot of SSX, a title that gathered a lot of excitement in the lead up to its release. It looked like a fantastic return to form to the best of SSX – insane descents down big ass mountains on a snowboard. No messing about with skis, no dicking about with anything else, just speeding down a mountain on a thin strip of plastic, and, occasionally a wingsuit. It looked awesome, and evoked memories of tearing down the slopes with my little brother and my sister and having a blast – but wait, what’s this? You want to play multiplayer locally? Oh no, that’s not how we roll. In fact, we don’t play multiplayer at all. Racing your friends? Ha! Not for us, thanks.

The shine that had been coating the game just fell right off, in my eyes. Honestly, what is the point of an SSX game without multiplayer? The fun of the game was never in the tricks and tracks, but rather in the time you spent playing it with others.  This is hardly the first time it has happened either. Take a look at the Need for Speed series, which has inexplicably binned the local multiplayer that made their games so much fun for me, seemingly for good. Thankfully they have kept their online multiplayer, but when a friend comes round you don’t want to have to tell them to bring their Xbox and their TV with them. Where’s the fun in that?

The fact of the matter is, this recent disregard for local multiplayer is putting a massive dent in my social life. It means that when one of the few friends I have from the outside world comes round and wants to play a game like Trials, I’m left watching them struggle with tracks and obstacles that I finished weeks ago, and the urge to take the controller off them and show them just how it’s done is almost overwhelming. If there was a local multiplayer function I could kick their ass in a race, then laugh at their struggles. Hey, it might lose me some friends, but at least I’d be entertained as well.

So to any game developers reading this, local multiplayer please. If only for the sake of my social life, and maybe for the sanity of my friends.

Last five articles by Keegan


One Comment

  1. Edward Edward says:

    I totally agree with this; I don’t get to play multiplayer locally much these days, but when I do it’s massively frustrating to try and pick something we can all enjoy that’s also a bit modern. More often than not, it’s just a matter of time before I’m hooking up the Wii or N64 just so we can all enjoy ourselves. Not that I’m complaining *much* when it’s Nintendo we’re playing, but local multiplayer cannot live on Mario alone!

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