Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I've Found the Perfect PC Party Game Experience.

A lot of console enthusiasts like to point out how fun it is to get a few friends together and play some Smash Brothers or Mario Party or Mario Kart or Kung Fu Chaos or whatever other multi-multi-player game is available to them and have a Big'ol'Time (tm) yelling and hooting and laughing and playing and whatnot.

And for a long while, that's kind of been something hard to find in a LAN party atmosphere. I mean, sure you've got your Deathmatches in FPSes, and 8-way clusterhumps in the RTS of your choice, but often enough these were as much excercises in frustration as fun for at least some portion of the attendees. And I know, I spent many a weekend back in high school carting my 486 over to my buddy Adam's basement, along with 4 other friends who were doing the same thing, and spending the next 48 hours in a candy-and-soda fueled frenzy of unbathed nerdery. Yeah, come sunday afternoon we were six tired, smelly, incontinent, frazzled lumps of humanity but overall we had a blast.

But there was always something wrong with each game we played. Somebody was too good at this one. Nobody but guy X liked that other one, but he kept pestering the others so they played it (I raise my hand as the guilty one here). Yet another would not work on somebody's machine.

I think I've found the solution, and only 10 or 15 years too late to help my situation!

The answer is the Serious Sam multiplayer co-op experience.

As I'm sure you are all aware, Serious Sam was a pleasant surprise from previously unknown Croatian dev house Croteam, blasting onto the scene a few years ago, followed by two sequels (Serious Sam: The Second Encounter and the deceptively named Serious Sam II, which is, in fact, the third Serious Sam game). The weapons are over the top, the levels are cleverly made, and the enemies are novel. The whole thing is just a great big funfest, with big guns, big men, big enemies, and enough spent brass to build a life-size statue of Unicron.

I recently got the opportunity to play it multiplayer cooperatively (looking for ANY reason these days not to play WoW). For a good long while, I've been prejudiced against FPSes in Coop mode (abarring, of course, BF1942) due largely thanks to peer pressure exerted upon me back in high school, where friends of mine seemed to hold the opinion that openly expressing a desire to try Co-op play in Doom was analogous to declaring one's self to be homosexual (I'm looking at you, PPMcBiggs). Finally, though, I've conquered my old school insecurities and gave it a shot.

It was a blast. Serious Sam is the perfect Co-op FPS. Everything that was good about Sam singleplayer (Big guns go bang) is better multiplayer, and everything bad (they expect me to kill HOW many giant aliens at once??) is lessened by having friends with you. The difficulty can scale as you see fit, the respawns are adroitly handled and smoothly implemented, ammo and other powerups are all able to be picked up by everybody (so once guy can't bogart all the ammo), and best of all you don't have to sign up for any stupid online big-brother service to set up and run your games because you can all join by IP address with no 3rd party intervention whatsoever. Players can join and leave the game dynamically (which means you don't have to restart the game to let somebody back in if they drop connection or something), and all in all the thing just goes right out of the box without a damned hitch for up to EIGHT players simultaneously.

And one of the things that was impressive about Sam even when it came out was that it delivered superior looking graphics at modest hardware requirements, so even your poorest of computer buddies can probably play this, and your casual buddy with a laptop that sports the generic Intel 3D accelerator can too. And the levels are all bright and colorful, which was a big selling point to me back then, when every other FPS seemed to be engaged in a contest to see who could get their players to stumble around blindly in the dark the most.

So, if you're looking for something different to try at your next LAN party, I heartily recommend the Co-op mode of Serious Sam (and possibly its sequels) by Croteam. Especially if you set the game to the most enemies possible, turn on infinite respawns and infinite ammo (yes those ARE options in game setup, Croteam apparently knew what the hell they were doing), and then just have at it.

And that's the word from Bandit Camp.


PPMcBiggs said...

Do we have to be sitting right next to each other, or can we use the internet as a sort of "homo" buffer?

Gas Bandit said...

Last I checked, you have to be sitting directly in my lap.

Seriously, any combination of local and internet connectivity works fine since it gives you the option to specify host to join directly by IP address. So, if one were behind a router, it'd merely be a matter of a single port forwarding and conceivably one could play with both people in the room and across the globe.