Multiplayer Action Comes In Bite-Size Chunks

Remember back in the day how much fun a good split screen bout of Timesplitters 2 was? Games like ToCA, Burnout, Mashed and Killzone? Some of the best fun to be had on Playstation is alongside friends. So why do so many of the big releases miss out on the split screen?

Developers are heavily focused on the single player campaign and then the online modes. A game is at risk of being ignored if it does not include some sort of online aspect. Therefore the budget has to go towards the internet side of things. It is also generally considered very time consuming to do offline multi-player with today’s high standards of graphics.

You could argue that co-op is just as much fun or that you can play friends online. But the fact of the matter here is I have more fun when you can see their expressions as they win or lose. Playing alongside people creates a very competitive atmosphere. There is huge fun to be had online, but for me it’s just has to be when the rivals are in the same room.

Of course, there are notable exceptions to the rule. Sports games like PES and FIFA will always have the offline multiplayer element and remain all the better for it. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and Call Of Duty have split screen (thus proving beautiful looks and multi-player can be done). But sometimes I need to switch off with a few friends, mash the buttons, shoot everything in sight and have a laugh.

Well, if you bemoan the lack of split-screen in Killzone 2 or Burnout Paradise, then fear not as the PlayStation Store as everything you need for bare bones 2-4 player fun.

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars is a model student. You simply have to play this with 3 friends. Yes, it’s a broken mess online and the single player challenges are nothing more than over-blown tutorials, but get a few friends round and it’s a hidden gem. It’s just so much fun! Not a day goes by without some sort of grudge match or title decider in my apartment. The same goes for Calling All Cars. Both flawed games, but they are hilarious.

I can go on with Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic. Hit all the buttons, shake the controller like mad, laugh and repeat until your hands have fallen off. Worms is another example of simple, wholesome social fun. I haven’t even mentioned wipEout HD, 3 on 3 NHL Arcade, Pain or Elefunk (hey, stop laughing; Jenga with elephants is surprisingly entertaining). The PS one titles like Bishi Bashi Special and Crash Team Racing also have to be part of any social PS3 session too.

So, the fun is still there, just in a smaller, more focused and cheaper downloadable package. Don’t get me wrong, I love a serious, emotional story like Uncharted or the pin-sharp precision of Call Of Duty:  Modern Warfare. I just seem to be spending more and more time with games available on the PSN. Excellent, full price releases are sitting on my shelf while I play these simple and addictive titles.

It is probably just me or the simple fact that there are more games available to download than ever, but the success of the PlayStation Store, XBLA and iPhone games seem to show towards a growing trend of shorter, more instantly addictive games that are vying for attention alongside 12 hour, story-driven adventures.

It is a shame that original titles like Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars don’t benefit from the bigger marketing budgets of larger titles or that Bishi Bashi Special is hidden in the obscurity of the PlayStation Store’s PS one Classics section. I for one think the PS3 is a better system as a result of these games and sincerely hope more people download them and have as much enjoyment as I have.