Online multiplayer has become a cornerstone of this generation. Millions of people log in every day to test their mettle against players all around the world and many of today’s biggest franchises are sold on the back of their multiplayer component. However, a small number of titles dominate the charts, often to the detriment of other robust, satisfying experiences. No one would argue that Call of Duty and Halo are immensely fun to play, as are Battlefield and Gears of War. However for those of you looking for something different, here’s a mix of titles that many of you may not have played, but really should.
Red Faction: Guerrilla
Released in the summer of 2009, Red Faction: Guerrilla was lauded for it’s impressive destruction engine and the feel of it’s weaponry. Reimagined as an open world sandbox game, multiplayer was something that some players dabbled in before returning to the old faithfuls. However, it clearly resonated with quite a few players because even today there is little difficulty in jumping into a game with a full roster. The multiplayer in Red Faction: Guerrilla retains the destruction from the campaign and there’s something immensely satisfying about collapsing a building on top of a hapless foe. Many of the game modes are designed around the tech, including an attack and defend mode and one where one player on each team is responsible for accumulating points for destroying buildings while the others must either assassinate the designated destroyer or protect their own. Finally, a variety of backpacks that do everything from increase running speed to launching the player straight up into the air add an extra layer of depth to the proceedings. It all adds up to a shamefully underrated multiplayer mode that needs more love.
There’s no shortage of really fun racing games available across all platforms and no matter your taste, there is a game for you. Many of the communities behind these games are still very strong, be it the hardcore design and simulation base behind Forza 3 or the madcap edge of your seat antics of Motorstorm or Burnout. Even Gran Turismo 5 has a strong community presence, despite it not having a game… yet. However we have chosen to draw your attention to Blur, weapon based racer from the team behind Project Gotham. Marketed as Mario Kart for grown ups, Blur actually has more in common with Wipeout than any other racing game. Much of this comes from the slick, neon aesthetic, though the weapons will be familiar to anyone who’s played Nintendo’s kart racer. Here however, all of the attacks can be avoided if you have the skill and multiplayer sessions in Blur can be good frantic fun, especially if you get caught in the middle of a pack. It takes some getting used to- being out in front can be a harrowing experience and races are won and lost on knowing when to pull ahead and when to hang back. Blur is good, clean, ridiculous car racing fun and has enough depth to last more than a weekend.
Kane and Lynch: Dog Days
Anyone familiar with Heat will know what to expect here. A gang of players fight together to raid a bank/truck/place with lots of money, but once the cash has been grabbed; every ally becomes a potential enemy. Fragile Alliance succeeds because it is built around the behaviour of people. It’s one of the few games where playing with random people is almost better than playing with friends because it’s the unpredictability that makes it so tense. Each game lasts a number of rounds so although it might seem like a good idea to cut and run at the first opportunity, know that you may be punished for it in the next round. Playing with friends is best done in the Undercover Cop mode. This means that one in the team is playing against everyone else and because it’s random, simply knowing the play style of your party is no longer enough. Kane and Lynch: Dog Days has some of the most tense multiplayer games going and much like Blur, it’s all about knowing when to hang back and when to cut and run.
Splinter Cell: Conviction
Although Splinter Cell may not be the first series you think of when considering multiplayer, ever since the second game in the series, the developers at Ubisoft have shown a flair for imaginative multiplayer. Although the Spies Vs Mercs game type has sadly been dropped, Conviction has a strong offering of both co-operative and competitive multiplayer modes. The major drawback here is that team games are out; most of the options are one on one, with some AI goons patrolling to spice up the mix. However there really isn’t anything like it and silently assassinating your opponent is as sweet a feeling as you’ll find online. The Deniable Ops missions are addictive, with each map offering a variety of different ways to deal with the odds. A wave defence game type offers something for the more action orientated, but stealth remains a perfectly viable option. Splinter Cell: Conviction is the perfect game for you and a friend to team up and have fun with. Be careful though, it’s the type of multiplayer that will have you standing up to go to bed, only to find the sun has already risen.
Transformers: War for Cybertron
There’s a particular Transformers catchphrase that springs to mind when talking about the multiplayer in War for Cybertron, but we’re going to tip toe past that elephant in the room and tell you that this multiplayer has gotten more than a few people past the summer games drought. Customisable characters, perks, a Horde mode and the ability to transform on the fly whenever you feel like it… how is that not awesome? The truth is the biggest thing holding back this recommendation is that not enough people are playing it. It’s a shame because flying across the map as a jet before dropping down in robot form and smacking another player in the face with an axe is just sweet. All of the modes you’d expect to find are here; from team deathmatch to domination, but it’s the mechanics and the frantic pace that make it special. You could almost say that like the Transfomers themselves, there’s more than you might expect at first glance.
These are just some of the multiplayer games that are a little off the highway of multiplayer gaming. We took care to make sure that if you choose to log in today, you should have little difficulty in finding a match, even in the case of Transformers. This list could have been three or four times longer, so if there’s any you feel we’re missing, let us know in the forums, or the comments below.