I still hold that the best multiplayer game ever was the multiplayer mode in 2001’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Various add-ons and patches made for massive 64 person (32 vs 32) matches of non-stop (sometimes literally) carnage. The flamethrower was fun with the screaming and cooking of the guys getting flambéed, but the ‘panzer’/rocket launcher never got old. Someone even immortalized it in the clip below (skip to the final 30 seconds or so for those not reminiscing):
What was unfortunate about the old RTCW is that the single player was…well ‘awful’ would be strong, but it was certainly ‘not-very-good’ (the two pieces were actually developed by two different developers).
It’s actually rare in my mind for video games to pull that off: the one thing that you can hold onto even if the game goes sour on you. Superpowers that are acquired late in many games can be pretty fun, but the balance is often off. Part of the fun of the ‘panzer’ in RTCW is that although you could wipe a squad of guys in one shot, you were equally likely to blow yourself to bits by hitting a wall that was too close (which was still funny).
Just Cause 2 comes close with it’s bevy of non-stop explosions in a fictional southeast Asian country that seems to be built of paper mache and natural gas:
It even had an interesting story in a mild anti-colonial sort of way before it went of the rails with a fake W. Bush CIA character, a ‘big-oil’ conspiracy (that, as usual, didn’t make a lick of sense), and gnashing of teeth about plots by ‘neocons’ (yes the word was actually used, and yes, as usual, the person using it doesn’t know what it’s supposed to mean). Unfortunately all the explosions in its large game world weren’t enough to make me want to recommend that anyone sit through the tiresome story.
With Far Cry 3 it’s interesting in that the setting reminds me of Just Cause 2, but just about everything is way better, apart from the story which probably shouldn’t exist. The story isn’t bad per se, it just seems like it was written by a sixth grader who’d sat through one too many Criminal Minds episodes. Beyond that though the voice acting is great, the graphics may be the best to be had on the PS3 outside of games without the word ‘Uncharted’ in the title, and the gameplay is solid. But like RTCW, it also has something that keeps me coming back: the knife stabbing NEVER gets old. It often requires patience, but, well, this short clip explains it all:
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