As we continue the GodisaGeek Game of the Year Awards 2012, it’s time to talk about the best multiplayer games of the past year.
Everybody loves a good multiplayer game, whether it’s massively multiplayer, local multiplayer or just a good old shoot out over Xbox LIVE Arcade, there’s nothing better than sitting down to some gaming with friends.
As we run down each position, our writers will have their say on each title, telling you exactly why they think each game is so good.
Of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts and picks for this category too, so please leave comments at the end of the article. In reverse order then, let’s get it on!
5: Need for Speed: Most Wanted (EA – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PS Vita)
Lee Garbutt: While not as deep as Burnout Paradise’s multiplayer, Most Wanted has kept me coming back to it time and time again since release. With its Speedlists mixing both co-operative and competitive events and challenges, I’ve found it to be an incredibly fun experience no matter how well I’m doing. Add Autolog for comparing scores with friends, and that makes for one of the best online experiences I’ve had all year.
4: Guild Wars 2 (NCSOFT – PC)
Martin Baker: I enjoyed the first Guild Wars game but it always felt more like a dungeon crawler than an MMO to me. You’d group up in cities, even if that group was full of NPCs and then you’d enter your own instanced version of the world, devoid of any kind of life apart from your party and your enemies. It keeps all of the elements that made people fall in love with the first game, especially the free subscription, and adds on everything that people like myself have been talking about. Guild Wars 2 is definitely an MMO but you only have to play it for a couple of hours before you start to see that it isn’t your standard one.
Questing is in the game is as you would expect from an RPG, but it’s not the player’s main form of XP generation, if you want to level up as quickly as possible you’re going to have to go exploring. Find all of the vistas, points of interest and other places on the map and you’ll watch your XP bar rise quickly, stand in one place and grind enemies and it’ll barely move at all. It’s a little bit of a shift in the genre but it’s a welcome one when you consider just how many games have tried to emulate World of Warcraft. ArenaNet have sat back and said “You know what? We’re doing it our way” and for that, I applaud them.
Calvin Robinson: Guild Wars 2 is a refreshing take on an MMORPG, maintaining the traditional mechanics that we’re all too familiar with, while re-inventing the way they are used. From the innovative questing system that focuses on encourage group-play, to the combat leveling system, which focuses on weapon combinations. Not to mention the beauty of this game, because graphically, it’s fantastic.
I’d go as far as to say that Guild Wars 2 is the best fantasy MMO that we’ve seen in years.
3: Halo 4 (Microsoft – Xbox 360)
Jonny Lewis: Halo 4’s multiplayer had to be good to get me, and a number of others to switch to it from Battlefield 3 as their main evening multiplayer haunt. Did it succeed? Oh yes. It’s a lovingly handled update of the frantic, crazy Halo multiplayer experience that got us all hooked back in the Halo: Combat Evolved days. The addition of perks, unlockables and loadouts in a Halo game was a bit weird at first, but it has all come together to be the multiplayer Halo game we all dearly wanted.
Mick Fraser: 343 Industries know their way around an online mode, having developed the multiplayer component for Halo: Reach, a mode that stood its ground against “bigger” games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and is still played today.
Halo 4’s multiplayer takes the best elements from Reach – levelling up, customisable Spartans, commendations, interesting, unique game types and huge, intricate maps – and applies them to a new template, adding combat enhancements, custom loadouts and a wealth of modes. And in the episodic Spartan Ops, 343 deliver one of the most enjoyable co-op campaigns of recent years. Offline, Halo 4 is sublime, but online it’s a genuine powerhouse
2: Journey (Sony – PlayStation 3)
Lee Garbutt: As well as being an amazing experience in its own right, Journey’s take on multiplayer is one of the most pleasing online experiences around. It’s purely co-operative with no verbal communication or griefing, making for a rare occasion that online interaction lacks the bile and malice that plague most games. Making the journey alone is a great experience, but making it with an anonymous partner is an amazing one.
Colm Ahern: The first time you hear a chiming chum in the sand dunes is a special one. Like an arm around the shoulder, realising you’re not alone in thatgamecompany’s Journey is comforting. The way the developer approached the multiplayer aspect of their masterpiece should be applauded for its uniqueness. Co-op can be turned off in the game, if you wish, but the drop-in-drop-out element allows players to come across many nomads, or stick with one partner for the entire adventure.
No voice-chat, no PSN ID; the only way players communicate is via the game’s singing mechanic. Language barriers are broken down and no judgements are made on “stupid” on-screen names. I’ve never played a game with multiplayer like it, and I doubt I ever will again.
1: Borderlands 2 (2K – Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC)
Mick Fraser: Played alone, Borderlands 2 is a great game as you shoot, loot and explode your way across the barren wastes of Pandora on the trail if those elusive Vaults, but add some friends into the mix and it becomes a whole new game.
The characters are designed to work as a team, each coming with their own selection of buffs and support skills, each bringing something unique to the party, but the true beauty of Borderlands 2’s multiplayer is the extra-curricular mayhem you can reap just for the hell of it. Impromptu races in the dune-buggy-like rocket Runners, friendly duels over a piece of killer loot, Skag-popping contests and Bullymong boxing. Played with friends, Borderlands 2 becomes a true playground, whether you’re burning through quests together or seeing who can kill the most Spider-Ants with nothing but melee attacks. Bonkers and brilliant.
Robin Parker: Story is certainly not the strong point of the Borderlands games. You won’t play this game if you are looking for a deep and engaging story to sink your teeth into. But for over the top co-op action, Borderlands is your series. Looting with partners makes the experience a lot more fun, and also the difficulty of enemies and value of dropped items increased when you add more players to the mix, so that the game remains well-balanced even with a team of bad-asses banding together.
Lee Garbutt: Much like Resident Evil 6, I primarily played Borderlands 2 in its offline split-screen mode; a feature that is far too rare these days. The new classes, Badass Rankings and abilities make co-operative play that much more exciting and accessible, especially as both my fiancee and I have found this game to be far more difficult than its predecessor, but even more fun.
Keep coming back throughout the day and the week for more Game of the Year 2012 content. If you want to hear which titles were also in the running in each category, then listen to the daily Podcasts throughout the week.