Let’s play together.
For some reason, PC game developers have been largely ignoring the growing trend in console gaming to include more options for cooperative gameplay. The PC version of Gears of War included it, but unfortunately by the time it had been ported over, most of the buzz for the game had died down and it was quite difficult to find a willing partner. With the significant exceptions of Valve’s upcoming Left 4 Dead and the majority of MMOs, there’s a serious lack of fun co-op games on the PC. Consoles have traditionally been the home of co-op games, particularly during the 16-bit era with beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage. This is because they lent themselves to it, with split screen gameplay making it easy for friends to cooperate with one another while they yammer together on the same couch. Luckily, with the proliferation of voice chat software among gamers, co-op over the internet has become a far more viable mechanic for PC developers to include. The success of the Halo games on both generations of X-Box – in part due to their extensive co-op modes – should encourage PC developers to include it more often.
While you’re waiting for PC developers to get on the ball, you can still grab some classic co-op games to play with your friends while you wait. The classic System Shock 2 – the primary inspiration for the 2007 hit Bioshock – features a slightly buggy but amazingly fun co-op mode if you patch it to the latest version. In its original incarnation, it was a bit clunky, as no voice chat made it very easy to get separated from your partner. This survival horror sci-fi classic becomes even more fun when you go through it with a team of friends. Set the difficulty to impossible, pick a set of classes, and then make time for a marathon session. The game is a little tough to run properly on a modern PC, but one quick fix is to make sure that you run the executable in single processor mode by selecting it in Windows Task Manager and altering the properties.
The Serious Sam series also features a strong co-op mode. Team up with your friends to take on literally hundreds of insane monsters at once. The entire series is available for a bargain bin price, and it’s good fun for a week or so of co-op shooting action so long as you don’t mind antiquated graphics and simplistic game mechanics.