PC hasn't been one of the best platforms as far as co-op games are concerned, since home consoles have always been a step ahead in that department. Although recent game releases have tried to bring the co-op experience to PC gamers, it would be suffice to say that many believe co-op gaming is best experienced on home consoles.
There is nothing more fun than playing a sports game with your buddies on local co-op or even playing a single player campaign with one of your friends. With the recent release of Kinect, Microsoft has been trying to bring your family into games and make video games a co-op experience for the whole family. With no extra controller required for every person it becomes a cheap and exciting prospect for families to spend more time together having fun. With Kinect also expected to add Windows PC support, we can now see PC gaming or some PC games being advertised for the whole family, although hardcore PC gamers might even hate the thought of it becoming a reality.
So could it be that bringing motion gaming to PCs is the only way to push co-op gaming or split screen co-op popular on the PC? Well, we'll see about that very soon, when the Kinect officially hits the PC gaming scene with ludicrous hacks coming left and right, which has already become a popular trend.
Anyone who has played local multiplayer in fps games knows about screen peaking i.e looking into your opponent's screen to find his location, health or even tactics. Screen peaking which became popular with one of the best fps games of all time, Golden Eye on N64 has since served as a hindrance to local multiplayer. Being a problem in multiplayer, screen peaking actually helps playing local co-op in campaign mode or even multiplayer as your partner and team locations are pretty much visible at a glance. This leads to better team work and less deaths during a co-op experience.
You can always use gamepads to play local co-op games on PC. But again, PC gamers are very proud of the use of mouse and keyboard, controllers aren't encouraged and as a PC gamer I second that thought. The accuracy that comes with a mouse and a keyboard just isn't there on the controller. On the other hand, playing sports games in co-op mode is a possibility, but you'll have to buy an extra pair of USB controllers to play with your buddies.
Also, computers are mostly not part of the home entertainment experience, so there's a chair instead of a couch whereas consoles generally sit in front of the couch making it much easier to enjoy local co-op.
When one thinks of videogaming on the PC, the mind automatically goes to single player experiences like Half-Life and Dragon Age. But make no mistake, the PC is a veritable paradise for online games, especially ones played cooperatively. From StarCraft II and Left 4 Dead to MMORPGs like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, the PC is the only platform that's more or less dedicated to cooperative online games. Some games require subscription fees while others are completely free to play, and they'll even run on 10-year-old computers. Nothing beats the PC when it comes to cooperative online gaming due to the sheer accessibility of the PC as a gaming platform.
Online gaming generally involves competitive multiplayer, but things are about to change with the upcoming release of Portal 2 which has co-op as its core mechanic, online and local co-op gaming will be coming to PCs in a big way and hopefully inspire other game developers to follow the footsteps of Valve by giving us some exciting co-op games for PC.
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