The 11 best multiplayer games ever
14th Aug 2011 | 18:30
For years, multiplayer has given gamers a much needed break from the linear machinations of repetitive in-game AI.
Playing against the computer can be great, no doubt about it, but there's nothing quite like the satisfaction you get from humiliating friends and relatives to the point of them throwing a temper tantrum.
There are a lot of multiplayer games that were brilliant in their time. But only a few multiplayer experiences have been so unimaginably awesome, that people are still playing them today.
Without wanting to limit ourselves to a specific genre or platform, here are 11 gaming names that we think represent true multiplayer classics.
Actually, we tell a lie. You're actually getting more bang for your non-existent buck here because we think some franchises have been so damn consistent in their multiplayer offering, we thought it a crime not to mention a couple of iterations under the series name. What can we say? You deserve it.
Don't forget to give us your picks in the comments section below.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Our most recent entry, the original Modern Warfare took a welcome step forward from previous COD titles, marching away from the largely overdone WW2 scene.
Despite having an undeniably solid campaign, multiplayer was where the real party was at in COD 4.
The gameplay was simply incredible, but the sheer wealth of multiplayer options moved COD 4 into an even higher echelon. Smooth, responsive, fast-paced gameplay made for exhilarating battles online but it was Infinity Ward's smart use of XP that kept people coming back.
Supporting up to 32-player online gameplay with minimal lag. Modern Warfare was as addictive as it was epic, that's why people are still logging on to it today despite being given plenty more Call of Duty since its release. Truly a classic!
Super Smash Bros 64
A crossover of several Nintendo franchises featuring character's from such titles as Mario, Zelda, Kirby and F-Zero, Super Smash Bros is simply bonkers.
With special weapons ranging from magic stars to baseball bats and stages that are massive death traps waiting to strike, How could it not be?
Luckily the aim of the game is simple enough; beat up your competitors until they have a high enough damage percentage to be booted off the screen. If you're the last man standing, you win.
Taking control of some of Nintendo's most beloved characters is a blast. Watching Mario beat the crap out of Luigi just doesn't grow old and there no better feeling than Falcon punching a dearly loved mate into the next world.
Essentially Super Smash Bros is everything a multiplayer game should be and Smash Bros 64 is the series' peak for our money; action-packed but simple, well balanced, highly enjoyable and immensely playable. A true classic.
A mod of Valve's Half-Life, Counter-Strike is an outstanding game, another that is still being played today despite its age.
Counter-Strike divides players into teams of terrorists and counter-terrorists. Depending on your respective class, the game modes include assassinating/protecting a VIP, planting/defusing a bomb, liberating/holding hostages and escaping from/guarding an area.
The great thing about the game is that once you're dead, you're out. This makes for some really tense multiplayer gameplay that's quite unlike most other FPS titles.
After you meet your demise, you can take a front seat and view all events that follow via the free roaming camera. The dramatic irony of witnessing the seconds before the death of your team mate/opponent die is a definite nice touch.
But the real reason for CounterStrike's winning formula is largely due to its wide variety of unlockable weapons, incredibly realistic sound effects for gunfire, explosions, glass breakages, body collapses and most of all, its stunning gameplay that rewards smart tactics and teamwork in some brilliantly designed maps
Mario Kart 64
Possibly the most amazing cart game ever made, Mario Kart 64 has saved millions of N64 consoles from taking a permanent vacation to the skip.
Multiplayer can support up to 4 players battling it out in a frantic race to the finish line. And frantic is certainly right since this is no ordinary racer.
With its famous array of items, a friendly looking kart game becomes a fiendish battle of switching momentum. You can ruin someone's race entirely by zapping them with a bolt of lightening (best place - the jump on Wario Stadium), throwing a heat seeking red shell, or just steam past other racers to the line with a big fat mushroom.
Each stage is packed with quirky fun too, many of which contain speed boosts, high-flying ramps, secret passages, and short cuts.
And at the expense of your mates, if you're informed about some of the game's glitches, you can have even more fun and pseudo-cheat yourself ahead of the pack. But you didn't hear us condoning it, right?
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is an immensely vast, rich role-playing online multiplayer experience that has literally consumed people's lives.
The range of customizable options is a stand out aspect. WoW allows you to design a multitude of alter egos, each with a range of selectable races and power classes in a variety of different realms.
The intricate detail put into WoW's stunningly presented universe has a truly absorbing effect. Whether you're exploring Azeroth's beautiful open countryside, towns, cities and settlements or just teaming up to fight magical creatures, the scale of the experience can be matched by none.
The level of online interaction and team play available in WoW makes it possibly the best online gaming community in existence. All this makes WoW the definitive large scale multiplayer RTS experience.
Many still hold TimeSplitters 2 as one of the the best FPS multiplayer experiences around.
Stand-out points are its alternative aesthetics, SCF-FI inspired environments, whacky characters and weapons that spanned from the relatively normal to the bizarre and ridiculous. By ridiculous we of course mean the lethal brick.
Multiplayer modes focused completely on fun, with the inclusion of standard and team deathmatch, capture the bag and BagTag. Admittedly, it's all been done before, but TimeSplitters manages to put such a bizarre bent on everything that it felt fresh and original.
Then of course there was the fabulous map maker, which did exactly what it said on the tin.
A lot of people like Street Fighter...Fact. Selling over 31 million home copies and 500,000 arcade machines since its birth, the series is a gaming institution.
Playing against the CPU in the original was certainly always fun and challenging, But the best side of Street Fighter was introduced in its second outing, which saw the birth of 1 on 1 versus matches.
Street Fighter III grew to even greater heights, particularly the definitive Third Strike, which was another brilliant evolution in the franchise. With its inclusion of new commands and new characters, it added a new depth to the series that would set the tone for later additions.
Street Fighter IV was the next in the series to deal a knock-out blow all over again for our money with its super enhanced next-gen 2D visuals, fast paced online multiplayer and well rounded gameplay that has already made it a classic of this generation.
Pro Evolution Soccer
Formerly known as ISS, Pro Evolution Soccer or PES (as it's often affectionately abbreviated), is the infamous rival to the long standing FIFA series.
If you happen to be a FIFA fan then you may feel aggrieved to see PES on the list instead. Thing is though, certain iterations of PES have the edge in terms of frantic fun that nurtures friendly rivalry so effectively.
We're torn between PES 4 and PES 5 when it comes to picking the definitive edition with both bringing the series' classic feel, mechanics and dynamics to the pitch.
Generally speaking, what made PES the best football game in terms of a multiplayer experience at its peak was its tighter, more responsive dribbling, an injection of pace, greater success rates for long range efforts and more adventurous physics. Who wants ultra realism anyway?
Team Fortress 2
Another Valve creation, Team Fortress is still considered the standard for team, class-based gameplay.
With its iconic cartoony aesthetic, strategic gameplay, and some highly eccentric characters, Team Fortress 2 offers a fresh perspective on the FPS genre, which can often leans too much on photo-realistic tones of grey and brown.
In terms of variety, Team Fortress 2 has a whole lot to offer. Each of its 9 character classes come with their own unique abilities and weapons and pile into either offensive, defensive or support categories.
You can charge with rocket launchers, set up turrets, revive other players, spy, snipe; it's entirely up to you. The sheer vastness of choice, presentation and over-the-top combat makes for an incredible multiplayer experience that you don't want to miss out on.
Quake 3: Arena
Considering it was the follow up to id's massively popular Doom series, Quake had a lot to live up to. But it live up it did, eventually proving to be the epicentre for an incredibly long-standing franchise.
It wasn't until Arena though that the Quake Universe became globally renowned for its outstanding multiplayer element. A game entirely based on fragging, friends with the inclusion of computer controlled bots for the lonesome, Arena was the first of its kind.
And with its implementation of new curved surfaces, fun level designs, impressive textures and highly advanced visual effects and gun sounds, Arena stunned its audience.
Although weapons lacked the traditional id flare, character skins and computer AI was spot on. However, fans and critics alike felt that the game's best offering was online going head to head with gamers across the world.
It's still a playground for hardcore online FPS heads today, making it one of the most important multiplayer names around.
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
If it's the complete multiplayer RTS experience you're looking for then look no further. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is quite frankly, the very best of its generation.
Even though its kind of an accumulation of all the RTS games before it, Starcraft II has more polish, balance and accessibility. Beginners welcome then, but venture too far and you'll enter a whole different world.
Serious Starcraft fans often reach levels of expertise that are beyond impressive, with a high-speed mastery that us mere mortals can only dream about. It's that level of depth, that accommodates a range of abilities, that makes Starcraft II so special.
Warcraft may well have the jump on Starcraft in terms of popularity and acknowledgement, but Blizzard's second biggest franchise is right up there for its equally epic military skirmishes..