My favorite multiplayer video game of all time:
Halo 2 (Xbox)
If you’ve spent any time talking with me about video games in the last year, this one will come as no surprise. Before I launch into discussing the game, let me say that the #1 spot is really going to both of the Halo games. On a list with only ten spots, I didn’t want to take up an extra one. And since Halo 2 is basically just the first Halo with some extras, I’ll be sticking to talking about the sequel.
I’ll probably get a lot of grief for this from PC gamers. To them, Halo 2 is nothing special – PC games accomplished most of what it does long ago. To that I point out that I’ve never owned a PC capable of playing the current generation of games. So H2 is new to me.
But what makes this game worthy of the #1 spot? The social experience. At their core this is what any great multiplayer game is about. Not locking yourself indoors away from people, but gathering a group of friends together – in this case even across the world – and cutting loose.
The killer ap for Halo 2 is the Xbox Live experience. Playing online is nearly seamless. You form a group, then tell the system to match you up with another (theoretically) equally matched group. No messing with servers, lag times, etc. It Just Works.
Game developers Bungie made another wise decision when they made the game types highly customizable. Tweaking the default settings has produced some truly amazing results – My favorite is a zombie survival game, and there’s even a bizarre type of freeze tag we break out from time to time.
Notice that I’ve barely touched on the gameplay itself yet. The online experience is just that good! While the single player mode leaves a bit to be desired, multiplayer rises to a whole new level. H2 added the ability to pick up multiple weapons at a time, more vehicles to drive, and lots of little touches that put the sheen on.
H1 was a worthy multiplayer game in itself. While it had no online component, luckily I was in college when it debuted. There were enough players on campus that online play wasn’t missed. Halo 1 is the only game I’ve ever felt competent to compete at in a tournament (we took second place). While I miss having people in the same room, Xbox Live makes for a capable alternative.
As with any multiplayer game, the experience comes down to your teammates and opponents. The worst game can be made extraordinary or the best game turned to mud, just based on the personalities and interactions of players. I’ve been lucky to stumble upon a great group of Halo 2 players, and before that great friends to gather around a TV for Halo 1. If we didn’t end up playing this game, if we’d met playing anything else, you might be seeing that game at number one instead. So here’s to you guys, wherever you may be.
If you’re interested in duking it out against me online, I go by Thunderclap 8. Note the space in there that I eternally regret choosing. As always, anyone who can tell me where I got the name from on their own wins a no-prize.
In summary, here was the list:
#10: Worms Armageddon (PC)
#9: Tekken 3 (PS1)
#8: Secret of Mana (SNES)
#7: Turok – Rage Wars (N64)
#6: Super Mario Kart (SNES)
#5: Super Monkey Ball (GC)
#4: Super Smash Brothers Melee (GC)
#3: Goldeneye (N64)
#2: Tetris (GB)
#1: Halo 2 (Xbox)