September 29, 2008 // 3:08 am
- Is it me, or is the split screen feature slowly fading away from mainstream? I was reminiscing about the old days of the N64, where split screen was almost a standard for many N64 games. Getting together with your friends, popping in Goldeneye and taking turns battling it out with the loser with the least kills giving up the controller.
Soon falling suit was the PlayStation with its awkward boomerang multitap and the cult classic Dreamcast sporting the four ports on the front, then the Xbox, then the Gamecube, then the PS2 with its awkward block multitap. But it seems as if with the new generation, split screen is becoming a thing of the past.
Granted the current systems support up to four controllers (seven for the PS3, why is Sony so weird when it comes to this? I know it's for bluetooth devices, but why the odd number?), but it seems as if everything is moving online.
Gone are the days where inviting your friends over for a four player game, instead it's seeming as if you have to arrange the time you all will meet up online, even though you all stay within the same vicinity of one another.
I understand the importance of online, with such games supporting clan structures and tournaments and allowing players to compete against others from around the world. However, it seems as if split screen is getting the small end of the stick nowadays. Only a few games still implement split screen, and do so correctly, Halo 3 being one of them.
Granted I'm not a fan of Halo, I applaud their implementation of split screen, allowing not only four players to play at the same time but also allowing you to take your buddies online to compete with others. This makes it more entertaining, by making it to where you're not just playing against yourselves but with more human controlled players, creating more challenging and intriguing experiences.
But it seems as if other games are not taking advantage of what's possible. It seems as if games nowadays lack the features of a fun split screen experience that was once offered to them in the olden days. Giving players generic game modes, limited character choices, limited features in general. Most games that offer split screen just are not nearly as fun as once before.
And when I'm talking about split screen, I don't just mean any split screen. I'm talking about FOUR player split screen. Who's bright idea is it nowadays to limit the split screen option to two. Two? I'm pretty sure I have more than one friend. I can understand two player co-op, but two player multiplayer with no bot support?
Rather it's a shooter, racer or any other gametype that generally does not include direct head to head combat (i.e. fighting games) is just NOT FUN with two people. I know when gaming started it was made for two people, but you can't implement something, take advantage of it, then suddenly retract back to two player multiplayer only.
Especially if one person is better than the other, at least with four people you have a chance of being better than one out of the three other players. Even if you're not better than the three other players, you're still playing with THREE other players. If you have 6 friends, and a four player game, that leaves two people spectating.
And when you spectate a four player game, its more interesting to see who will be the dominant one out of all your friends. But with a two player game, you have four people spectating, and I guarantee those four spectators will be bored as hell watching two people duke it out on a map that was made for 16 player online matches.
Nothing like watching two people wander aimlessly trying to find each other, only to experience ten seconds of action when they confront, then having the loser of the confrontation spawn on the other side of the map only to repeat the aimless wander once again. THATS NOT FUN. And I know I'm using mostly shooters to explain my point, but thats usually the one game that utilizes split screen.
Racing games are much worse. Why do most racing games support only two people? Here's another scenario, this time with a racing game (trust me, it's short). Your friend starts a multiplayer match with you, he picks a car faster than yours, no bot support, the game starts, he's instantly got a ten second lead on you with no one ahead of him to affect his lead except the track. YOU INSTANTLY LOSE, THATS NOT FUN.
You may be thinking, just pick the same car he picks...thats generally a no no in the rule of offline multiplayer gaming, but hell the way things are going that rule gets broken constantly. And even with that rule broken, if you start off losing in a one on one race, you have about a 2.9% chance of regaining the lead.
Now granted, there are still some games out there that fully utilize the allowance of more than two people to join in the fun (one of the reasons the Wii is on top of the competition), with the competitors focusing more on online social interaction rather than offline social interaction. Not saying that those four player games don't exist, they're just not as much of a focus as it was back in the day.
I understand, online gaming was near non-existent for home consoles back in the day, but thats no excuse to adjust to the growing demand of one field but completely disregard another as if it's unimportant and no one cares; only to add a lousy offline multiplayer as if it were an afterthought.
I'm sure I'm not the only one with more than one friend, but if I was would the industry be to blame for distancing once social gamers into basement dwelling ogres who's means of a game of Halo with friends is a simple text message saying what time to be online?
Guess I just miss the good ol' days.