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The Multiplayer Experience

L1020022-1000The world of gaming is vast and offers a different experience depending on the type of game you play and with whom you play. There are so many fantastic single player games that are well-written and beautifully scripted that one can easily spend all of their time being the star of their own action film. But multiplayer games offer a different level of excitement and interaction.

I am a fan of the single player modes of the blockbuster series like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect and Far Cry. I nearly always play the single player first, although I play the multiplayer modes before finishing the single player experience. There are games such as Battlefield and especially Call of Duty, where diving into multiplayer sessions becomes a daily event. This was also true for me with Mass Effect 3 for a while, but as much as I love them, for some reason not with Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry.

Racing games are another situation completely. As I have mentioned in the past, I am an avid player of the Forza, Grid and Dirt series and even try my best at F1. In each of these, I spend countless hours playing both the single player and then the multiplayer aspects of the games. Forza definitely excels in this arena with the most robust and interesting variety of race types and locations in my opinion. I have also played many of the Need for Speed games although I always prefer the driving feel of the cars in Forza and the Codemasters games. The racing game you play decides much of the type of experience you can expect. The Codemasters games (Dirt, Grid, F1) are very popular with European and Australian audiences and it is often difficult to find enough players at times that someone on the East Coast of the U.S. may want to play. The intensity level of the competitors also ranges widely from game to game. Some games have loyal and dedicated followers who know the tracks and cars so well that newcomers will find it frustrating. I have also found that the level of sportsmanship you can expect to find varies greatly.

L1020027-1000Civility is also something that varies greatly from game to game. I play Facebook Scrabble with a dozen or so strangers at a time. Some of these players have been playing a non-stop series of games with me for years now. A few have proven to be the most polite and thoughtful people with the highest degree of sportsmanship that one can find. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are the small-minded, bigoted and homophobic players that dominate the world of Call of Duty. As much as I enjoy this game, it seems to attract people, especially males, who seem to think it clever and amusing to display behaviors that on the street would get their asses kicked. Some sport in-game logos that refer to the N word and contain various homosexual put downs. The comments made by players in this game particularly almost always require me to mute players that I do not know. It is a sad realization of the stereotypes that non-gamers have of the gaming world. My sister is an avid gamer and owns all of the major consoles. She maintains that the Playstation audience is better behaved and less offensive than that of the Xbox community, even within the same game. I understand that the Xbox community is considerably larger and it makes sense that it attracts all types of players, but it is a sad fact that people (of all ages by the way) act this way in public.

There have been many times when neighborhood kids or family members drop in and we decide to all play a game together. This typically leads us to the realization that there are not many games that allow for three or four players on the same Xbox. There are arcade games, many of which are turn-based that allow for four players on the same box, but the total that allow for four on a screen are much less. We often play Castle CrashersSonic & SEGA All Star Racing or play a round of local combat training in Call of Duty. We used to play the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games often, but over time the guitar controllers have all become faulty. It is a shame because “getting the band back together” was really fun. Maybe it’s time to buy some new controllers.

If you know of great multiplayer games that allow for three or more players on the same Xbox, please let me know using the form below. If you have favorite multiplayer games (or games with multiplayer modes) that I have not mentioned, please send me your thoughts and I will follow up in the coming weeks. All comments welcome.

High Fidelity

game_musicAs a teen and college student I prided myself on having the most enlightened taste in music. I had to know everything about who I considered the most profound and original artists. Much like the John Cusack character in the film High Fidelity, I was a music snob. I knew people and small specialty shops where I could hear and obtain the latest, coolest music from all over the world. And then I got old apparently. I have a large music collection collected over the years that makes it all too easy to not actively look for new music.

I have found that video games are an excellent way of experiencing new music whether it be right up your alley or a surprising departure from your usual tastes. Certain games have stood out as having especially well-chosen soundtracks in my opinion. Some of my favorites include Forza 2 where I learned of artists including LCD Soundsystem and The Pinker Tones, both new to me at the time I admit with some embarrassment. Since then I have become enormous fans of both of those artists. Both bands had a few tracks in the game and both had one that stood out. LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk is Playing in my House” and The Pinker Tones’ “Karma Hunters” encouraged me to look into those bands discology and quickly load up on their albums.

The Dirt series has had some great music selections as well. Dirt 3 includes a track from the band Atmosphere called “The Waitress“. I strongly recommend that you give it a listen. The games that are grabbing my music attention these days include Forza Horizon and Far Cry 3. Forza Horizon includes some of my favorite bands including The Arctic Monkeys, The Hives and reprises with LCD Soundsystem. Far Cry 3 turned me on to Skrillex and Damian “Junior Gong” Marley whose “Make it Bun Dem” requires being turned up to 11.

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