If you're like me, then you own a PlayStation 3 that you only occasionally play because 1: You dislike Sony's service, 2: Most of your games are for XBox 360, and/or 3: Most of your friends are on XBox Live. I don't own a microphone for the PS3 and I do not plan to get one. I don't have a keypad for it, either. The console has no cross-game chat, which Sony say is because the virtual memory on the PlayStation 3 is shit... or something like that.
You need to know all this so that you can understand the context. I once played a game called Dead Rising 2: Off the Record (thanks Capcom, I didn't get enough of the original, I was begging for a re-release) while leaving on the option to have people drop-in at will. Obviously, this means that I would be prompted with requests to join my game. Regularly I allowed people to join, and often times they always just wandered around killing zombies, or doing everything they could to disrespect my time. Not to say that I didn't have fun.
This was back when I didn't have XBox Live. I wasn't going to pay the price of a brand new game for something I got for free on another console. At more than one point, I've played games online with my PS3 and have been unable to communicate with people. and many other players were unable to communicate with me. I imagine a good part of the reason (by no means the only one; they might just not be using a headset) is because Sony usually doesn't bundle headsets with the PS3. At least they didn't with my 160 GB console.
In a game that I would say begs for teamwork in its cooperative play - though by no means is it complex - you can imagine my inability to communicate without slowly opening my XMB to send messages and even more slowly typing it, would lead to complications.
I once played with a person who I'll refer to as "Nik," because that's part of his username and I'm not going to advertise it. Plus I don't want to boot up my PS3 just to check it. Incidentally, my name is also Nick. So he and I were playing together, without any form of communication other than slowly messaging each other without keypads. We didn't want to stop for too long to write a novel because we knew it would waste the other's time, and all we wanted to do was keep playing the game. Keep that in mind; that's one aspect of our "teamwork."
We didn't know each other, we never met each other, and yet our gameplay styles were so similar. We made almost the same weapons regularly - such as Knife Gloves, Laser Swords, Defilers, Reapers, etc. - and used the same healing items, especially Orange Juice. So often when we found each other without decent weapons, we would happily drop our Knife Gloves for the other to use, had we a surplus. In fact, over the course of the gameplay, I even gave my only "good" weapon to Nik, as I knew the locations of where to find the items necessary to create another weapon anyway. He needed it more than me. And we knew every time that we dropped a powerful weapon, it was for the other player.
Not just that, but whenever we flashed our items to each other, such as Boxing Gloves that we had so happened to be carrying, the other almost immediately knew what we were asking for. If I showed off a Bowie Knife, perhaps I wanted Nik to get me a pair of Boxing Gloves, or maybe he happened to have a pair on him. If Nik showed me his Flashlight, I knew he wanted me to give him Gems.
We never once let the other die. In boss battles, we often ignored the enemies' openings just so that we could give each other an Orange Juice or Pizza, had we seen our health bars were depleting. Recalling our experience - which lasted about two hours - I don't think either of us lost health, because we reinforced each other, made the other stronger when we needed to most.
Our excellent teamwork and understanding of each other's in-game actions got to the point where we only needed to call each other once before either myself or Nik would come running to the destination either he or I wanted to go to. There was never a "hang on" moment, because while I wouldn't have minded waiting for my partner to make a pair of Knife Gloves, I didn't think he had shared my sentiment. He could have sent me a message, asking me to wait, but he didn't. Of course, if he was to pass a maintenance room on his way to me, he'd seize the opportunity, but I didn't begrudge him for it. It was only logical, but it never became a problem.
Maybe this entire blog post has made you think "Uh, yeah, duh. You're supposed to use teamwork in cooperative modes." Let me tell you that before meeting Nik, I played many cooperative games with other players, only for them to generally refuse to answer my pleas to come to me, and sometimes didn't even acknowledge the Knife Gloves that I dropped for them, thinking that I just wanted to get rid of the junk.
It was like Nik and I were psychic, as if we understood each other. Hell, one time, I just wanted to get rid of a pair of Knife Gloves that was about to break, and shockingly, he didn't pick it up, and yet I knew he had space left because he had just broken a weapon. He could have taken it and I wouldn't have minded, but it wasn't necessarily for him. A couple more uses and the gloves would have probably broken. He just happened to know, as if he had been keeping his eyes on me like I did him.
We kept each other covered when it came to zombies, got zombies off of each others' backs, gave each other our weapons and items for combo weapons, and switched the role of leader each time one of us completed a case or mission. Whenever we needed Zombrex, we never wasted time killing zombies; we went to get Zombrex, and more, just so that we could keep enjoying ourselves. It was one of the most fantastic games I'd ever played with someone, and I never had so much fun playing Dead Rising 2 with a friend. All without a microphone.
It's been a long time since I talked to Nik, and I haven't been able to play with him again for two reasons: 1. I regular my XBox 360 rather than my PlayStation 3, 2. I was renting the game. I feel bad for him, because after that incredible non-verbal relationship we built together (no homo), he must feel betrayed that I kind of just forgot about him. I know he felt the game we played together was great, because when we had to leave, we actually did message each other. Ever since then, I've never had an experience come even close to how amazing the teamwork in it was. It was like we never made a mistake, like we never misunderstood each other. Maybe he's my alter ego, who knows?
I looked up that Journey thing on Wikipedia recently, curious as to what exactly it was. Surprisingly, it comes close to my experience, but places even more restrictions on players: you can't use microphones even if you have the option, and you can't even see the other players' names. While I imagine this would make for great experiences, it just kind of feels less special to me when it's the integral part of the game rather than something transcending it. When I'm expected to do something rather than doing it on my own accord, it feels less special. I don't plan to play Journey, but I don't think it's good nor bad. I've read that it only has about an hour of gameplay, which shocks me because no matter how much you can try and convince me, I just can't get the same satisfaction out of games that are incredibly short, no matter how long they are. It feels like it wouldn't justify the price, and whether or not you think it's ignorant, it's rooted in my brain. I'm not a rich gamer; I'm very poor, so I buy games that last me forever, and I can't rent Journey. I also can't buy a headset for my PS3.
But I can play Dead Rising 2: Off the Record.
Nik, I'm sorry for never talking to you. You were one of the coolest players I've ever met online.