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Men of Antisocial Valor

October 21st, 2004 · No Comments · Gaming, Xbox

There’s a real shortage of games available for Xbox Live that allow for cooperative play. By cooperative, I don’t mean team versus team, I mean one team of human players versus the game.

I think there’s a real lack of vision of game publishers in this regard. It seems everyone making games feels that Xbox Live consists of singular people who fire up their Xbox to enter into one randomly assembled deathmatch after another.

For some of us, though, like to use Xbox Live to play with our friends. We’re not looking for other people to play with as much as we are looking for games we can play together.

Games that work well for this are

  • Rainbow Six
  • Rainbow Six: Black Arrow
  • Ghost Recon
  • Ghost Recon: Thunder Island
  • Full Spectrum Warrior (but only 2 players)
  • Star Wars Battlefront

Short list, isn’t it? Basically Four games and two expansion packs. Full Spectrum Warrior isn’t all that good, and only two people can play it. Star Wars Battlegrounds is really meant for team versus team, but you can let the AI play for a team, which is does pretty weakly. So that leaves only two solid games for cooperative play.

But also two games that my gaming crew have pretty much played to death. We know almost all the maps and all the missions. It took us quite some time to get there, but we are pretty much there.

Hungry for the next game, I was delighted to read in a review for the just released “Men of Valor” this tidbit:

…this game has some impressive modes and options off the field – a full Co-op mode is included in which you can play through the entire game with three friend either offline in split-screen, or on Live.

So today I plunked down my $50, and urged the rest of my gaming crew to do the same.

But, alas, kids, there is no cooperative play mode in Men of Valor. Unless you consider split-screen or system link an option. On Xbox Live, there is only team versus team play. The review was incorrect. (I made this mistake with Return to Castle Wolfenstein as well, but at least me and my gaming buddy bought that used.)

I can understand there are technical reasons which make cooperative play harder to do on Xbox Live. If the Xbox has to do all the work of sending data via the Internet, and keep track of game AI, well, that is a lot of processing. Even the Rainbow Six games warn that more than two players in a cooperative game can cause performance problems (we’ve never seen any, though, even with four players). But still, the fact that Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six manage to pull it off means it can be done. It’s just about good engineering.

Men of Valor, with it’s wide variety of Xbox Live game options, may have a perfectly engaging team versus team mode but only if you want to play against other people. But there’s already a lot of games that offer this. I’d rather see a game sacrifice some rendering complexity in order to offer a rich cooperative game. The market is already full of deathmatch eye candy. Can’t those of us who like to work together have some fun too?

This incident made me do some homework about the long-awaited Halo 2, and it seems it also is unclear whether coop will be support on Xbox Live. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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