Two-player co-op is back, and I couldn't be happier.
I got Gears of War from GameFly earlier this week, and I was stoked because my brother had a copy of the same game in his 360, and had been waiting for mine to arrive.
We both grew up on videogames (when we weren't out fishing, or getting lost in the woods) and although we played all of the classics, it's pretty clear looking back and that we each enjoyed playing co-op more than anything else.
If you're old enough, how could you ever forget playing Contra and fighting over who would be red-pants and who would be blue-pants? What about Life Force and blasting through the guts of a huge interstellar alien while cracking jokes with a friend? Without a doubt, working together and being a team is something that I completely enjoyed… and missed.
Although I think I would say that the PlayStation/PlayStation 2 era was one of the richest for me in terms of the kind of game experiences I had, the one that was sorely lacking was co-op. I've never been into FPSs much, and the thought of playing any sort of deathmatch for more than an hour leaves me cold. I'd much rather work towards a common goal and cover a buddy's back than hide out on a high ledge and snipe people from afar, blasting strangers into nuggets every 2.5 seconds.
I recall plans for a Survival-Horror cooperative game that failed to materialize (was it from Kemco?), and The Adventures of Cookie & Cream went completely unrecognized, but more often than not, the only projects that included multiplayer were of the combative variety. No thanks.
Although Gears of War isn't all it was cracked up to be (…but that's an entirely different discussion), I completely bow down to it for the simple fact that it's possible to play the entire campaign cooperatively with a friend.
My brother and I are half an hour apart on a good traffic day, we both work full-time jobs, and we both have real-life commitments that make getting together on a regular basis somewhat prohibitive. But thanks to Microsoft, Epic, and Marcus Fenix, we can hook up for a few hours at night and relive the days (sort of) we spent hanging out in a crowded bedroom elbowing each other out of the way and passing snacks back and forth. Regardless of the issues I may have with the game itself, I fully intend on paying full retail price for a copy as a way of saying thanks.
Although I'm not putting down people who love to frag, it's not for me and probably never will be. As such, I couldn't be happier that co-op seems to be on the rise. A number of titles in development are focused on bringing this long-forgotten style of play back to the forefront (Army of Two looks phenomenal) and I'm tickled at the prospect that my days of being a perennial solo gamer may be over.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway