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Is multiplayer damaging our single player experiences?
Multiplayer is rapidly becoming the fastest way to get me to say “what, in that game? really...?”. Over the past few years a multiplayer component has found its way into several franchises that began as single player experiences (Dead Rising, Assassins Creed, Condemned, Dead Space). Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the inclusion of multiplayer in any game, however there are certainly examples where a lacking single player experience seems to coincide with the addition of multiplayer.
The main culprit for this that I have recently played is Dead Rising 2. I, like most gamers it seems, love killing zombies and so I was really excited for this game. Then I heard multiplayer was making its way into it; I tried to be positive at first, hoping for a simple coop system, but no, competitive multiplayer found its way into the game. I tried it just to satisfy my curiosity, but it’s just a mixture of random mini games with unpolished mechanics that seemed thrown in for marketing purposes.
My problem with this is simple, the first Dead Rising was a solid single player experience, it had its fair share of problems but if you could overcome them there was a very fun experience to be had. A lot of these problems are still present in the sequel; poor collision detection, boring boss fights, no checkpoint system and unresponsive controls. The first game made up for these by being filled with little details that made the game so much fun. Almost all of these things are absent from the sequel with (seemingly) no good reason and there is a significant lack of attention to detail in the single player experience. The setting feels so much more bland than that of its predecessor.
Dead Rising 2 serves as a light example of this, there are examples of utter atrocious decisions to include multiplayer in a game. Just look at the train wreck that is Resident Evil 5’s vs. mode, this barely even passes as something to kill time with your friends for a quick laugh. The main reason this troubles me, is because this year two games are due out that have three things in common. The first is that they’re both sequels, the second being that their predecessors were both single player only and the third being that their sequel includes multiplayer. I am talking about Batman: Arkham City and Dead Space 2, both of the originals rank very high in my book and I do not want to see their single player experience suffer because of tacked on multiplayer.
As always, I will reserve judgment for when I’ve played the final product. There is potential here, a coop mode in Arkham City could be absolutely amazing if done well and Dead Space 2 seems to be going in the direction of Left 4 Dead with humans vs. monsters. Multiplayer has its place, and when placed well it can be amazing, but publishers need to realise that what makes some games magnificent is their single player experience. There is always going to be room for multiplayer in any game, but when it’s the single player that earned a series the limelight, that fact needs to be acknowledged and treated with the respect it deserves.