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Sentry avatar 4:21 PM on 01.02.2009  (server time)
Playing With Others: Asymmetrical Multiplayer

Ladies and gentleman, asymmetrical multiplayer is my bread and butter.

Having long ago come to terms with the fact that I'm pretty suck when it comes to actual coordination, accuracy, and general skills, I've had to exercise other portions of my brain in order to hold my own in competitive (or even cooperative) multiplayer games. This compensation has led to a kind of prodigal prowess in the realm of tactics. Save for some of the more complicated real-time strategy games, my ability to anticipate the thought process of my opponent and outhink them has, usually, more than made up for the fact that their reflexes and abilities are infinitely superior to mine own.

Asymmetrical multiplayer plays to this particular strength.

Alien versus Predator, the relatively simple Double Agent multiplayer, and - of course - Left 4 Dead.

When everybody possesses precisely the same set of weapons and skills, things can get kind of stale. There are only so many better strategies before you eventually hit a ceiling; innovation being one of the more precious commodities in symmetrical multiplayer.

But in asymmetrical multiplayer, you have to do that one thing that doesn't come very naturally to most people: you have to empathize with your opponent in order to mount a particularly effective offense or defense. It's one thing when you're both formed from the same template, as you need only to think of what YOU would do in your enemy's position. But when you have vastly divergent and dissimilar skill sets, you need to hold in your head not only your own abilities and how you might execute them to overcome your foe, but ALSO precisely what your opponent is capable of doing (i.e. their means of attack), as well as what opportunities they're most likely to utilize to take you down.

There's already word of the new addition to the Chronicles of Riddick franchise (something I'm looking forward to, I might add) and one of the multiplayer modes it's purported to offer. This mode being "Pitch Black", a "Riddick versus every got-damned mercenary in the frakking 'verse" mode of play that I could not anticipate more. One player will have control of Riddick in scarcely lit corridors, backways, ventillation systems, and whatever else the developers might conjure up for their spaceship settings, in full command of his impressive ass-kicking abilities, whilst all other players control mercenaries with regular sets of oculars, guns, and a flashlight, hoping to take down the most elusive and violent badass within the mythios.

I tell you what, that's the kind of thing that sets my toes a-tappin'.

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