Top 10 Multiplayer Games/Franchises
By Max Roberts
I really enjoy top five or top ten lists. They help to see inside the mind of their creator or the community that fueled them. It can be a real treat to see what points you both agree and disagree on. I have written one top numbered list before, featured on my IGN blog (one day I hope to migrate those posts right here to Go Left Gaming). The list was for the Top 5 Unforgettable Game Introductions of This Generation. This time I have a top ten for you. I started the list with only five in mind, but the list expanded and I even had to make a few cuts. These games are my Top Ten Multiplayer Games of All Time.
Note: Seven of the ten are franchises as a whole. In this article though, I will be writing about my favorites within each franchise. Also, the list is in no particular order, as that task proved too difficult for me to accomplish.
Mario Kart Franchise
Racing games are some of gaming’s strongest titles. Franchises like Need For Speed, Forza, and Gran Turismo bring fans together with their gorgeous vehicles, fast pace, and strong multiplayer racing. But no other racing game brings people together (or breaks up friendships) faster and better than Mario Kart. Huge rosters of the Nintendo characters we all know, crazy tracks with shortcuts, and incredible power-ups, it is no surprise why Mario Kart is the go to racing game for folks.
My favorite game within the franchise is the GameCube’s own Double Dash. While that handling is touchy, the game has crazy speed, memorable tracks, and that crazy awesome two driver mechanic. Racing with two is better than one and adds a layer of strategy to the races that other entries don’t quite have. Double Dash was also the last Mario Kart game to feature racer specific power-ups. This added even more importance to who you chose to race as, and I hope Nintendo brings the power ups back in Mario Kart 8.
Mario Party Franchise
Favorite– Mario Party DS
Ah, Mario Party. Such bittersweet memories with you; memories I think we all share. Those rounds where you are neck and neck with your friend. The matches were you rise as the underdog to victory. And who could forget the times you could not even get a single Star. Mario Party is a timeless collection of mini-games and whole hearted shenanigans. You and your friends will laugh, yell, and cheer as you try to collect Stars and crush your opponents.
Mario Party DS is definitely my favorite in the series. I love the portability of the game and how easy it is to play with your friends via single-card play. It has just enough boards to keep variety and the mini-games really incorporate the DS touch screen and microphone in fun, unique ways. One disappointment I had with the game was the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity. Mario Party is the perfect game to play online with your friends. I hope that the next entry, for the 3DS, will feature Wi-Fi, to make the game one of the best Mario Party experiences around.
Favorite– Pokémon Stadium
If you grew up with a Nintendo 64 you likely heard these lines, “They’re staring each other down!,” and “Savage attack!” The announcer from Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64 was perfect. He seemed to capture the mood of the battle and he always made me laugh. Going from the 2D plane in Pokémon Blue and Red from the GameBoy to a full 3D battle was super cool. Even better, you could transfer your team from the GameBoy to the Nintendo 64 for the ultimate battles with your friends. Pokémon has always had a solid multiplayer system with its team building and battles, but no other game seems to fully capture the glory of Pokémon quite like Pokémon Stadium.
Sticking with the Nintendo 64, do you remember staying up all night playing four player split screen in Goldeneye? I do. Nostalgia plays heavy into this decision. Goldeneye 007 was truly the start of playing an FPS for hours upon hours with your friends. The game never stopped being fun with all its add ons and many maps.
Picking characters from all those great Bond movies from years past, the game made you feel like you were 007. When Nintendo announced the remake of the iconic game at E3 2010, it was a brilliant move and dug up nostalgic feelings for fans across the globe. Unfortunately, the console exclusivity did not last long, as Activision moved the game across all platforms, in HD, under the title Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. Goldeneye 007 was the launch pad for multiplayer FPS, effectively leading to multimillion dollar franchises such as Halo and Call of Duty.
Favorite– Halo 2
Goldeneye 007 may have been the launch pad for first person shooters, but Halo: Combat Evolved was the rocket. In November of 2001, Microsoft’s signature exclusive took the world by storm and hasn’t let up since. From the core trilogy to the newly established 343 Industries saga, Halo has been the standard for FPS games across the board. The worlds are rich and filled with detail. The in-game lore and how it ties the universe together is a wonderful touch. The core of Halo, though, is the strong game mechanics. A wide range of weapons, maps with diverse terrain, and, more recently, the power-ups players may choose, all are signals to how strong the game and its fanbase are throughout the industry.
Halo 2 is my personal favorite in the saga because of LAN parties. I will never forget sixteen guys hauling four televisions, four Xboxes, sixteen controllers, and mountains of snacks and drinks for an all night Halo party. Cords lay tangled all across the house as we threaded the four consoles together in four separate rooms. Each room was a team, no screen cheating, and we would play 200 kill Slayer matches on Ascension while trying to keep the tower. It never got old, and when the famous “Super Jumps” were discovered, it breathed new life into our all nighters. Halo 2, to me, is the pinnacle of the franchise. Granted, I’ve only beaten Halo ODST and Halo 4, but those LAN parties, truly unforgettable.
Call of Duty Franchise
Favorite– Modern Warfare 2
If Halo is the rocket, Call of Duty is the moon. This billion dollar franchise has become the definition for multiplayer first person shooter experiences. From cliché twelve year olds to the die hard players, Call of Duty has become an icon in the gaming world. Outside of gamers, nearly everyone knows what Call of Duty is, as a franchise.
Subject to the “Tony Hawk” effect, Call of Duty has become an annualized franchise tweaking the concrete controls toward perfection. The two “competing” series within the franchise, Modern Warfare and Black Ops, alternate each year, each with their own exclusive modes or features. Modern Warfare is known for its cooperative Special Ops mode, which features challenges that must be met within certain guidelines. Black Ops has zombies. Starting in Call of Duty: World at War, near the start of the recent zombie boom, the team based zombie hoard survival mode has become the go-to mode for four player co-op parties. No matter what your preference is, the fact is undeniable that Call of Duty is top notch FPS gameplay with one of the world’s largest multiplayer services.
The Call of Duty game I always go back to is Modern Warfare 2. The maps were diverse and had a sense of vertical space. The attachments and perks achieved through challenges were addicting to pursue. My friends and I would spend hours playing Sabotage on the map “Rust”, laughing and shouting the whole round. The also balanced the competitive multiplayer with the challenging Special Ops mode, featuring full co-op. In my opinion, Modern Warfare 2 is the best Call of Duty to date.
Guitar Hero Franchise
Favorite– Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock
It shouldn’t be a surprise that another Activision power house franchise made the list. Subject to the infamous “Tony Hawk” effect, Activision ran Guitar Hero in to the ground. They beat the dead horse over and over with those guitar shaped controllers…then the drums, followed by the microphones, right alongside the DJ rig and keyboard. But it was not always so frustrating with Guitar Hero. The first three core games launched the party music games and were true gems. Although, it is pretty funny to think that we thought those instrument controllers would be apart of entertainment centers for years to come.
The best Guitar Hero game, hands down, has to be the third iteration, Legends of Rock. Why? Through the Fire and the Flames. And don’t try to bring up Free Bird from Guitar Hero 2. I rest my case.
“The cake is a lie, but this top ten list is the truth.”- A nondescript automated turret with a dream in musical performance. Portal 2 was a stroke of genius in gaming. Taking the too short Portal and its unique puzzle solving formula, Valve perfected their franchise and created one of the most memorable games of this generation. From a killer cast, superb dialogue, mind-boggling puzzles, and a delicious cake, Portal 2 is a must play for any gamer.
One of the truly fantastic parts of Portal 2 though is the addition of a cooperative campaign. My friend and I sat down and played the whole co-op portion in one day. Now that does not mean the game is easy. In fact, the game is quite difficult and you must rely on your partner. Valve nailed the puzzles using four portals and all the unique puzzle solving tools from the single player mode. Be wise in who you select as your partner though, you don’t want “that guy.” The guy that will make you chase his portals to reach the exit or shoot you into the murky depths of Aperture Laboratories.
Super Smash Bros. Franchise
Favorite– Project M (A mod for Brawl), without modding– Melee
Do you remember the first video game you ever played? I do. My first game, and I still rock the cartridge every now and then, was Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. From those early years of constant defeat from my father I became a die hard Smash fan and trained my way to a decent place. I can hold my own against some local “champs.” The Super Smash Bros. franchise is the king of four player fighting games. Featuring a roster of Nintendo’s first party characters and the diversity each character brings to the table, Smash is a blast for everyone.
The latest installment, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, was a more relaxed fighter, aimed at a more casual audience. To make up for this lack of technical skill, the hardcore Smash Bros. community set out to do was create a mod for Brawl that would make it play more like its competitive predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Melee. Thus Project M was born. A simple, hack-free mod is crazy easy to set up and is the best way to play Smash. Always changing and expanding to make the game even better, the community is at hard work nonstop. If you have a Wii and would like to spruce up your Brawl experience, check out Project M here.
Naughty Dog’s latest game, The Last Of Us, is a masterpiece. Curious why? Read my review and see why, then go check Metacritic’s average, then go buy a PlayStation 3 and The Last Of Us and buckle up for a wild ride. Besides being one of the greatest stories told in video games, The Last Of Us features an insanely powerful multiplayer mode. The feelings of tension, strategy, and immersion have been perfectly translated into a multiplayer mode. Featuring only two modes (for now), the options may not be grand, but you don’t need grand for this bleak, post-pandemic world Naughty Dog has thrust upon you. The key to playing online is working together and not straying too far from your allies. If you go off by yourself, you’ll be taken out quickly, silently, and fiercely. The amount of violence is no lesser than the single players, despite the lack of the Infected. You’ll see internal organs fly after a shotgun blast or hear your enemy choke on their own blood as you stab them in the neck. It is dark. Be prepared to be hooked from the get go.
That’s it. Those are my top ten multiplayer games of all time. What do you think? Am I wrong? Did I miss any crown jewels in the realm of multiplayer experiences? Share with me in the comments below and keep you eye out for more video game news, reviews, and original articles right here on Go Left Gaming.