Where My Party Multiplayers At?

To the Windows! To the wal-

I recently had my birthday party. It was a raucous affair, with a large quantity of alcohol and sugar consumed. Throughout the party we had a large game of Mortal Kombat 9 playing in the background. It was one-on-one match ups the whole night where the standard ‘winner plays on’ rule applied. This went on from when the party started until almost the very end of the night. Almost 12 hours of constant Mortal Kombat 9 and not a second of it was dull; there were matches that had everyone in the room erupt into cheers and applause over matches that came down to the slightest bit of health. Everyone in the room was engaged; even the non-gamers in the room were able to appreciate the closeness of the matches and the brutality of the finishers. From the outside of the house, it would have sounded like we were all watching one of the greatest football matches of all time.

Eventually though, someone said “Can we play a different game?” Those 6 words echoed through the house. After the first 5 hours for MK9, I could understand wanting to throw in some variety, but when we couldn’t really decide on a game we just kept on playing MK9.

This then made me think…

What party multiplayers are there on the PS3 or Xbox 360?

“Hang on Chester, what about Wii?” I hear you say. I will get to Wii shortly, but first, let me explain my definition of a party multiplayer:

-A type of game that requires little to no skill

-It can be played in an environment with more than four people around

-Players can easily be rotated on a round-by-round basis

I can imagine that right now, you’re trying to think about any game that could apply to this definition and I’m sure you have come up with a whole bunch of great multiplayer games. But I’m not talking about standard multiplayer games. This is an article about PARTY multiplayer games. Read the title dammit! “But Chester,” you rudely interrupt “What about FIFA and Call of Duty, those are big multiplayer games!” You’re right kind reader, they are. But these games require a skill to achieve a degree of success in match ups.

I am one of a few people in my group of gamer friends who enjoys sport games (except for FIFA because I think Soccer is one of the lamest fucking sports on Earth –  Seriously, I would rather watch a round robin tournament of Alzheimer riddled elderly people playing Bingo Lawn Bowls than sit through a soccer match, but I digress). Sport games are not as successful a party multiplayer as you might think. Sports games require an understanding of the actual sport and the rules of that sport for you to be able to play a game. I cannot play Madden with anyone, because nobody I know has any idea of how American Football works.

One of the only times I played FIFA, I kept getting offside penalties whenever I tried to shoot for a goal. I still have no idea what I was doing wrong because far as I am aware, you can pass the ball in any direction in soccer. So how the fuck is there an offside!? I really hate soccer. It is unfair to use the “but everyone knows the rules of soccer” excuse, because no, not everyone does. If I was to make a whole bunch of foreigners play an AFL (Australian Football League) game, they’d have no idea what was going on… just like regular Australians I guess.

Another reason why sport games generally aren’t a good party multiplayer is that they have lengthy time limits. All sports are split into halves or quarters. Soccer, Rugby, Basketball, NFL etc. These cannot lead to a fast player turnover when there are ten other people wanting their turn but need to wait 10 mins for two halves of a game to be played. There is the exception if you only play one half and then have a player turnover for the second half. That isn’t always a successful way of splitting it up though. Especially if you had given your team a massive lead at the turnover and then your replacement ends up losing the match. It’s like eating half a burger then letting someone else finish it right in front of you. You don’t get the satisfaction of the final bite.

The only type of sport game I can think of that could possibly apply as a party multiplayer is basketball. But not regular basketball. Most of the NBA Live or NBA 2K games have a ‘Street Hoops’ match type. It’s just a first to a set score with anywhere from 1v1 – 5v5 match ups. They are quick matches, much more basic than the normal basketball match and have a much more simplified version of the rules than normal match ups. If you can think of any other Pro Sport multiplayer games that could fall under the party multiplayer game, please do let me know in the comment section. It is genuinely something I would like to find more of.

And now to discuss the ground breaking, revolutionary, ever expanding world of one dimensional First Person Shooter games. FPS games such as Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2: More Shootinger than Before and Call of Duty 3: Electric Boogaloo are all fun multiplayer games (I’m using COD as the example only because Battlefield 3 and Medal Of Honour don’t have offline multiplayer). I have grown bored with most shooters, but I cannot deny that they are a great deal of fun. They are a good multiplayer game only when there is a maximum of four people. They’re fast paced, action packed, full of cool weapons and explosions and have plenty of violence. Something that has become a necessity for most gamers nowadays. That’s all I can adequately write towards that multiplayer experience of FPS games. But the reason I cannot classify them as a party multiplayer is because these games require a huge amount of skill to be good at them.

We all know that one gamer who can quick scope a head shot from half way across the map at least 15 times a match. You think that is an easy thing to do? No! That skill set takes ages of FPS mastery to pull off. Someone who hasn’t played a shooter before cannot join straight into a match with three other veteran FPS players. They won’t have a great time getting killed every ten seconds, having scored a single kill the whole match with a fluke knife. Before you know it, that person will be the one saying “Let’s play something else”.

The other contributing factor to shooters not being great party multiplayer games is time. “But Ches-” SHUT UP AND LET ME FINISH!!! We all know you can adjust the kill score to something low so that matches don’t last too long. What if you’re playing with one of those guys who pisses excellence? If it’s first to ten kills, it is a quick and simple target which can be reached in a few minutes. Especially if you’re playing on a winner plays on basis. That just means the same player just stays in and continues beating the shit out of everyone. Survival Modes I hear you say? They can go both ways (hehehe). They could last a long time with a slow turnover if you have really good people who just won’t die. Or they can be really short survival matches if you have really crappy players who die in the second wave. It’s a hard game type to keep balanced for everyone and to a fair time frame.

I’m not at all saying that party multiplayers don’t exist on the big consoles. Most fighting games can be played in party situations. Even though they are often two player, they have such a fast turnover that it doesn’t seem like it too long before next person steps in. I’m sure that we have all played someone in a fighting game who has kicked our asses with intense button bashing. That is the perfect example of how there is a very small middle ground between experts and ‘noobs’.

Racing games can also fall under the category of party multiplayer. However, realistic driving simulators like Forza or Gran Turismo, while they can be fun and exciting for all, can still be kind of dragged out – particularly if it’s a long map. Gimmicked driving games such as Mod Nation Racer or Sega All Star Racing are great at levelling out the playing field. They also add in the extra element of excitement with weapons and obstacles. Even the Twisted Metal games are a perfect example of a driving game that is a fantastic party multiplayer (and is pretty much the only other game that is played at any large gatherings of my gamer friends.)

Now, I told you I would get to Wii. Nintendo has always had great games that can be turned on in the background of a party and left to be played. These are games that don’t necessarily require a great deal of skill and that have a fast turnover for all the people waiting in like. Games like Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Mario Party, any of the Raving Rabbids games are just some of the many examples of the types of party games that exist on this console.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that any multiplayer game that isn’t a party multiplayer is a bad game. I still love sport games and while I’m not the biggest COD fan, I do still love Halo and some other shooters. But when you’re trying to keep things moving quickly and trying to keep everyone happy, our options really are limited. Maybe people just need to have more patience and wait for their turn, or maybe they just need to play games more often so that we can play all of the well-known multiplayers. Or maybe you think like my non-gamer friends, who were sick of MK9 after the first two hours and thought “They should stop being so anti-social and just party with everyone else.” But if we didn’t think that a big group of people together and having fun with games wasn’t a social affair, the industry would have died out a long time ago.

–          Chester