Editorial: Halo 3 Has Spoiled Xbox Live Gamers
I see its effects everywhere. I see it in gaming forums. I see it in reviews for other games. And I can’t help but think one thing: man, Halo 3 has spoiled Xbox 360 owners.
Let’s put the sub-par single-player campaign and the disputes over how good the multiplayer is aside for a second and get one thing straight: for an online gamer, Halo 3 has more options than any title before it. Online multiplayer with multiple modes, online co-op, splitscreen co-op, splitscreen multiplayer, theater mode, Forge: the list goes on. That’s a large part of the reason you can find plenty of people to play with at any hour of the day; there’s just that much to do. But now that I’ve been exposed to all these options in one package, I find myself viewing newer games in a much different light.
Let’s take Call of Duty 4, for example: I can’t help playing the game without thinking how awesome it would be to have online split-screen multiplayer, so me and my 360-less friends could work together. Or for that matter how incredibly fun any type of campaign co-op would be. Frankly, the absence of such elements — not to mention my personal preference for a mouse and keyboard — are what pushed me to buy the PC version over the 360 version. But why? Call of Duty 2 lacked those options as well, and I never gave it a second thought. Well, that’s probably because I hadn’t seen them as an option before. The game is spectacular as it is, but I keep thinking how it could be more spectacular.
Another case in point: Assassin’s Creed. I haven’t played it yet, so I haven’t formulated my own opinion about it; but I’m sure most of us have seen the less-than-stellar reviews. And in the midst of some of these reviews, comments on news articles, and forum posts, I’ve seen a number of people complain about the lack of co-op and online multiplayer. Let’s just stop and think for a minute about how ridiculous it would be to have not one, but two Medieval assassins running around killing higher-ups. Or for that matter, if there were a whole bunch of them just running around trying to kill each other. To cite another stealth game, no one complained about a lack of co-op or online play when Metal Gear Solid 2 came out (possibly because they were too busy complaining about Raiden). Or, to cite a more recent title, BioShock didn’t have any of that either; and there were complaints, but not as many. Enter Halo 3, and now everyone expects multiple robust online modes to make a game perpetually replayable.
Maybe Nintendo had the right idea not making an easy online mode for their system. After all, people are enjoying Super Mario Galaxy, and no one seems to be complaining too much about a lack of online features. And they’re adding online multiplayer to Smash Bros. Brawl, which is probably the one Wii game the most people would want that feature for.
I’m not saying I don’t prefer games with online features — far from it — but it doesn’t make or break a game in my opinion. I’ve seen far too many games that tried to tack a multiplayer aspect onto a great single-player game only to hurt the overall experience. More co-op and multiplayer modes would be great, but if it comes with the possibility of a less enjoyable core game, I’d rather go without. Games were fun before the advent of the internet, and there will always be games that are just fun to play on your own.