Being a person with more than my fair share of brothers, multiplayer gaming was very popular in our house. There was only one TV, and only one NES, or SNES, or N64, or GameCube, etc. Whichever it was, we were either going to have to play together, or find a way to determine whose turn it was. With three out of my four brothers being older, and four out of the five of us being gamers, chances were slim that I was going to be the one playing through any single-player campaigns. When my brothers were home, it was either our oldest brother played something solo, or we all slugged it out in Super Smash Brothers. If either of us younger kids won, sometimes the slugging would stop being digital for a while. At least they didnít shoot us when we won in Goldeneye.
But as much fun as playing an actual multiplayer game was, thereís another form of multiplayer that Iím rather fond of that really stretches the meaning of the word Ďmultiplayerí. I'm talking about story mode tag-team.
There have been many game releases in my life where I, or a friend of mine, was the only one fortunate enough to pick up a game that we were all awaiting the release of. So instead of beating the game and handing it off to the next guy for a playthrough, we would get together, order a pizza, guzzle mountain dew and marathon play the shit out of that game until the end credits rolled. Every time someone died, or a chapter was completed, the controller was handed off.
One of my favorite sessions was when I received Condemned for Xbox 360. Not only was the game new, but the system was new, so we were itching to get our claws into it. Two of my friends came over with a stockpile of junk food and soda, and we sat down on my futon (yeah, futon!) and didnít leave but to evacuate our bladders until that game was done.
I was predetermined to start the first chapter, being that it was my stuff. Riding high on Mountain Dew, I was checking every direction, walking really slow, making sure that nothing was going to jump out and murder me (caffeine makes me jumpy). All the while, my friends quipped about the multiple ways in which I could possibly be disemboweled. I laughed at their jokes, but without actually knowing the full extent of the gore in the game I wasnít so sure that I wasnít going to get my stomach slashed open and bear witness to a blood orgy amongst my spilled organs.
This is part of what's great about playing with friends, though. Friends donít just let you get smacked upside the head with a lead pipe in silence. They let you know that Captain Lead Dick just knocked you across the skull with his abortion factory. They make you think twice about walking through that next doorway. There might be a rapist in there! The commentary is what makes this kind of play great. You can laugh at the criticism knowing that when this chapter ends, or you ultimately fail to complete your task, that itís time to pass the controller, and itís your turn to dole out the witty cynicisms (or not-so-witty ones). Hey, could the 2x4 youíre wielding possibly be compensating for something?
Iíve been doing this for a long time, at least dating back to the N64 days. My friend Tom and I have actually done this on several occasions. We most recently tag-teamed Deadly Premonition to completion this past Halloween. While I know that playing through Deadly Premonition by myself would still have been oddly engrossing, I canít imagine having not played through it with him. He introduced me to an otherwise non-character in the game by giving a voice to the rather excited-looking fish in the loading screens.
The above is an inside joke that none of you will get, but most of you will probably appreciate. You probably have fond memories of tag-teaming a game yourself. It turns any game into a party game... especially when you have a 24 pack of Mountain Dew and some weird-ass friends to play with.
LOOK WHO CAME: