Epic battles, dynamic choice-based events, in-depth character customization, and amazing cut-scenes. What I just described may sound like this years next generic AAA single player campaign, but in fact they're the new face of multiplayer gaming. One way to look at it is that online gaming is a blank canvas, and many developers are trying to find exactly what kind of brush they would like to use. As a result, 2010 is looking like it'll have a pretty wide variety of games offering some very different (and fun) online modes. Here's a list of a few games, some already released and some a while away, that will give set some pretty definitive standards for the future of online gaming.
Kane and Lynch 2: Dead Men
The first game's storyline didn't make much of a splash, but it's online component was most definitely a memorable hit. As a result, Fragile Alliance is making a comeback in the upcoming sequel and anyone who enjoys more complex (and atisfyingly tense) gameplay shouldn't miss out. The game puts players into a game of ops and Robbers, where the goal is to grab the cash (after a successful heist) and get out as fast as possible. The catch? Your teammates can betray you at any point in time to earn themselves a bit of extra dough.
Fragile Alliance is the kind of game mode where friends, neighbors, and siblings can really betray each other and finally be rewarded. It's the real hidden gem of the first Kane and Lynch, and seeing it make a comeback is actually pretty exciting. The best part about it is how it actually gets better when playing with strangers, adding a bit more tension to the scenario and of course making a successful getaway even sweeter. Coupled with the new Arcade Mode, Kane and Lynch 2 is looking like it'll have a lot to offer those who need a good fix of online play.
The Halo series is one that has survived by making only minor tweaks to the core gameplay that has attracted so many fans, but Reach looks like it's going to disturb that trend. New game modes such as Headhunter, Generator Defense, and Invasion will give gamers the chance to experience a style of gameplay that may be more up their alley. On that note, the new Arena lets gamers who cherish teamwork and overall skill properly boast by distributing points based upon skill level. New armor abilities and weapon loadouts also provide a decent mix of options, letting players really move down skill paths that are more their style of play.
While the equation to the Halo series still remains the same, there are more than enough additions to attract new players. Generally defined as the easiest to learn of the social/competitive FPS games, Halo: Reach should be the kind of game that's easy to pick up anytime. Recording individual matches also has its own bonuses too, after all the only thing more fun than winning is watching the road to victory from afar.
Blazblue: Continuum Shift
Sure there are a lot of FPS games coming out this year, but that doesn't mean they're the only places to go for some multiplayer action. Blazblue did a fantastic job upon its initial release, and Blazblue: Continuum Shift looks to improve (and add) upon everything that made the first game so much fun. New characters, rebalanced moves, and easier to access Astral Heat (for all characters) should make this game a lot more fun than the last.
The most important aspect of Blazblue isn't it's solid fighting mechanics, rather that it's one of the few games to offer a generous learning curve. Players new to the series can set moves to be more easily accessed through the analog stick, which can put them right on par with those who like to memorize directional inputs. It's a saving grace for some people, and really helps to bridge the gap between casual players who may take a bit more time to learn the ropes.
New car models, brand new paint jobs, and tuning to reflect real life counterparts are what most racing games boast to draw in the crowd. Split/Second ignores most of these things, instead settling on fast paced action and a lot of explosions to win the day. It's an unusual mix, but one that translates into great multiplayer fun. More importantly, it means that even a player who isn't quite good enough to score first place can still make a difference by altering the track itself.
The result is extremely fun, particularly on a casual level. Not having to memorize which car is the fastest, or which will provide the best performance means players can focus more on the race itself. Which naturally is what Split/Second is all about. It also rewards aggressive driving in a way that the Burnout series would be proud, and offers split-screen for gamers that have actual, real life friends. Possibly the best part of Split/Second is the learning curve, which asks players to not only learn the tracks but how to destroy them. Anyone looking for a racer to simply pickup and go online with should be quite satisfied with what Split/Second has to offer, and playing with friends only makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
Stay tuned for more updates as we go through this years upcoming multiplayer action. Be sure to check out our full in-depth reviews (and previews) for more details on what these games have to offer!
<a href="Halo">http://www.gamingunion.net/news/halo-reach-beta-impressions--1677.html">Halo: Reach Beta Impressions