The two of us are very different people, with different interests, aptitudes, and personalities, but share common ground in video games, and our love of defeating a common enemy. We've been playing together for as long as I can remember, with a list of completions that includes:
- Jet Force Gemini (N64)
- In Dragon Warrior Monsters (GBC) we completed the incredibly long breeding sequence to create Dark Drium, the ultimate monster. Anyone who knows anything about that game should understand how awesome an undertaking that is.
- Gauntlet: Dark Legacy (Gamecube)
- Dynasty Warriors 4 (PS2)
- Halo 1, 2, and 3
- Gears of War (1 & 2)
- Rainbow Six Vegas (1 & 2)
- Unreal Tournament III
- EDF 2017 (about 5 times)
- Left 4 Dead
- Duke Nuke 'Em 3D
When you've played with the same co-op partner for years (and probably even more so when you're related to that person) you develop a 6th sense of sorts about what your partner is going to do, and you have a complete understanding of each other's roles. Evan and I barely need to talk anymore to complete games if we don't want to, even on the highest difficulties (we still chat it up 'cause games are more fun that way, of course). He runs for the sniper rile and starts picking off enemies while I practice some close range shock-and-awe. We have our system, and we rock with it.
No trend in the gaming industry do I observe with more happiness than the continuing expansion of co-op play. Where competitive multiplayer has long been dominant, developers are beginning to realize that there are people out there like me who find playing WITH others to be a lot more fun than playing AGAINST others. Some games, like Army of Two or Left 4 Dead, were designed specifically for co-op play, and I hope to see many more games embrace co-op play as time goes on. While there will always be griefers, even in cooperative play, I've found co-op players to be much nicer people, who will work with you to get a mission accomplished. Even in team-based competitive multiplayer, where working as a unit could ensure easy victory, people act like a bunch of mavericks, which has ruined competitive play in Halo 3 (which I wasn't a fan of to begin with), Gears 2, and even Vegas 2. Why people don't communicate in squad-based games is beyond me, and I almost never play multiplayer anymore unless it's with friends.
Perhaps the greatest thing about co-op play is the fact that your opponent is AI, not human. Let's face it, people (and by people, I mean most random people you encounter on Xbox Live) suck. They glitch, they cheat, they quit early, they teabag, they turn Gears of War into a running shotgun fest which was not what the developers intended. They swear, spew forth racist or homophobic garbage, make excessive "your mom" jokes, beat-box, sing, or rap into the mic, are pre-pubescent boys playing M-rated games, and a million other things that annoy and lessen the experience. When playing cooperatively against AI, you know the opposing team is going to play the game the "right" way, and don't have to suffer the annoyances offered by a million idiots. Everyone shares the experience, and walk away satisfied at that shared accomplishment. I've never had a co-op session where players left frustrated or angry, while that happened in almost every competitive session.
With my brother gone, I feel like I'll be cut off from the style of gaming I like most for five months. Sure, I can still chase achievements for all time, but what do I do when I'm sick of that and need to play a different way? I'm going to need to hold auditions for a temporary new Wingman, I think.
I'll conclude my comments on co-op by wishing my bro good luck in Spain. You'll have a blast, I'm sure. Keep me updated about what you're up to. The games will still be here when you get back =)
Dark Drium pic from: http://tiger3k.com/yash/entertainment/games/index.html
other pics from MGC or xbox360achievements