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Top Tuesday: 5 Great Co-Op Games of the Modern Era

by Zaid Kriel (Zaid)  Posted Tuesday, April 09, 2013 10:09:55 AM

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Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel came out recently - the Gamezone Review will be up on Thursday - and as it's title suggests, not to mention all its marketing, the game is all about co-op play. When the franchise was first announced, the intent was that it would be the de facto co-op experience. Unfortunately Army of Two didn't live up to it's potential, but while playing through it this past few day, I did get to thinking about all the great co-op games that did come out of this generation.

Despite being a relatively common fixture of the arcades and the 8/16-bit consoles, co-op was a largely missing component during the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 era's. The reason had a lot to do with the transition from 2D sprite based visuals to 3D polygons and other technical limitations, not to mention the popularity of competitive multiplayer taking off either.

But once the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii rolled up, cooperative multiplayer started making in-roads again and services like Xbox Live, PSN and Steam played a big part in bolstering the resurgence. As a result, the last few years have seen a number of really quality co-op games get released and here is a brief selection of the best.

Trine and Trine 2


Trine and Trine 2 are a pair of brilliant physics-based platformers with a strong puzzle element, that emphasises the use the three characters different abilities to achieve progress. Each character plays in a very unique way and the fun of the game is in learning how to mix those skills together with two friends as you try to defeat the forces of evil. What's great about the game, is that many of the environmental puzzles have multiple solutions and depending on your personal teams dynamic, how fix a problem can be very different from someone elses.

Alien Swarm


Alien Swarm could easily have just been a bullet hell top down corridor shooter and still been a great game. Instead Valve decided that great was aiming to low, so they made an fantastically awesome game instead. Alien Swarm has a layer depth that isn't immediately apparent with a cursory glance at it visuals. Players are required to pick one of four character classes before a mission, choose a weapon load out carefully, and above all, communicate with their buddies if they plan on surviving the alien onslaught. Lone wolfing achieved nothing in Alien Swarm. Also, the game is completely free. Thanks Valve!

Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2


It's not inconceivable to say that it was Left 4 Dead that made co-op gaming cool again, if for FPS's if nothing else. The game about four survivors lost in a seemingly unending wave of Zombies remains one of the best co-op games ever made. Unlike other co-op games that merely allowed more than one person to play a campaign simultaneously with others, Left 4 Dead and its sequel took it further. When they said the game was 'cooperative' they meant that literally. It wasn't just that you could play together, but making any kind of progress meant you had to actually work together to get anything done. If you tried to pull any lone wolf shenanigans, it wasn't just your ass, but it meant mission fail for you whole group.

Portal 2


Guess there's something in the water there at Valve, because this is the third game to come out of their house to feature some awesome co-op. The single player portion of Portal 2 is pretty engaging, not to mention funny, but the co-op in my opinion is arguably better. It captures all the head scratching puzzles and the quirky comedy that is a signature of the main campaign, but for two. It really isn't anymore complicated than that.  

Journey


Journey is the best co-op game you will ever play. To those that have played  the game, there's no need to explain why, you know what I'm talking about. It's one of those things in life where if you've never experienced it, it's hard to articulate why exactly it's so much better than every other effort. Because in contrast to what I've said about every other game on this list, working together isn't really a requirement - it is possible to progress by completely ignoring your fellow travelers when they enter your game - but whether it's the game's award-winning music, simple, yet engaging visuals, meeting a fellow traveler is just something that can't be ignored. In Journey you don't have to help anyone, but the the makes you want to help each other. And helping another traveler in Journey is just one of the best feelings in gaming ever.  

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd


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