When I think of great multiplayer games, the usual suspects pop up in my head: Counter Strike, Halo, Battlefield, Call of Duty, and the recent masterpiece Overwatch. Other than being incredibly fun and highly addictive, these titles have something in common; they’re all first-person shooters.
Coming to this realization the other day made me think about all of the multiplayer games I’ve been obsessed with in the past, and which were third-person shooters. It was on my mind all the way through the night. Just when I was sure I had thought of them all, more memories from titles I played heavily throughout my life emerged.
Eventually, they were all jotted down in my notebook; I just needed to pick out my favorites. After hours of consideration, I’ve narrowed it down to my top five.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
A staple of my childhood, Conker’s Bad Fur Day was one of the first mature-rated games I ever played. At such a young age, I was mesmerized by the crude humor and foul-mouthed animals. Moreover, I was captivated by its wacky, shameless, and gruesome multiplayer modes. From its ultraviolent Total War and Deathmatch modes to its CTF-styled Heist and Colors games, Bad Fur Day provided me with countless hours of enjoyment from the time it released until the day I sold my N64.
It wouldn’t be hard to make a case that Conker’s Bad Fur Day still holds up as the best offline multiplayer game, period. Nothing quite beats fighting a WWII-inspired battle between squirrels and teddy bears, or partaking in a violent scramble for cash with a bunch of wise guy weasels (literally… they’re weasels wearing striped shirts and masks). I love that, for the most part, each game mode is objective based. Of course, there is a deathmatch option, but why pick it when you can fight your friends over a chemical weapon and use it to completely annihilate their team?
For those of you who still own an N64 and have never played this game, I urge you pick it up. There are some copies floating around the internet for less than $30, which, believe it or not, is a pretty reasonable price. When you’re on your couch having a blast with your friends blowing each other up with bazookas, sniping each other’s heads off, and cutting each other in half with samurai swords, you’ll see that it was money well spent. You can also play Conker’s Bad Fur Day on your PC with an emulator, but be warned: I still haven’t found a version that works very well.
Gears of War 2
Chainsaws, Horde mode, and oversized humans vs alien freaks – what isn’t there to love about Gears of War 2’s multiplayer? It’s one of the best competitive third-person shooters of all time, and partially responsible for my consistent 1st period tardiness my senior year of high school. I spent a lot of late nights curb stomping fools in Execution, running with the Meat Flag in Submission, and assassinating enemy leaders in Guardian.
This could be said for all GoW games, but using the chainsaw attachment to reduce your enemies to nothing but meat chunks is the ultimate “fuck you” in competitive gaming. Same with curb stomping. Smashing an opponent’s head to mush while their crawling for their lives is highly satisfying when you’re the stomper and horribly demoralizing when you’re the victim. Even more demoralizing is being used as a “meatshield”, a newly introduced mechanic that allows you to use incapacitated enemies to block opposing fire. I was also a huge fan of chainsaw duels because it took the most badass and exciting mechanic in the game and found a way to make it even cooler.
What I particularly like about GoW 2 over other installments in the series are its maps, pace, and skill gap. It did a great job improving on the first by introducing new game modes, altering current ones, and adding a wealth of new weapons, maps, and mechanics. Unfortunately, I did not like its successor as much. I wasn’t a fan of the faster gameplay and I felt the skill gap was much lower. Because of this, I never played another installment in the series. I’ve heard mixed opinions about GoW 4, but haven’t gotten around to trying it out.
To this day, Socom 2 is one of the most strategic and tactical multiplayer shooters that has ever been released. This is a game that takes an incredible amount of skill. There is no aim assist, the gameplay is faster, health doesn’t regenerate, and there are no respawns. It forces you to be intelligent and work as a team. Unless you’re a sharpshooter that knows every map like the back of your hand, going solo is a surefire way to get yourself killed.
Communication with teammates is necessary for success. Having a full team of players that actually speak and strategize with one another is a huge tactical advantage. When it was still playable online, I particularly liked having the ability to chat and find clan wars while scrolling through the server lobby. I loved entering private for clan tryouts and practices. The community was one of the best of any multiplayer game ever made, with a unique culture behind it that made it unlike any other.
As of August 2012, the online servers have been shut down. However, a fan-made remaster has been in the works for quite some time, and it was the most popular game request on Playstation.Blog.Share for years. Hopefully a fan-made or official reboot comes out soon so the world can relive Socom 2 and its multiplayer glory again.
Star Wars Battlefront 2
Any Star Wars junkie holds a special place in their heart for the Battlefront games, especially the second installment. Not only does it give us control over more Star Wars legends and place us in more famous fights, it also adds space battles. Soaring through the dark depths of space while blasting down enemies and destroying the vitals of hangars is a thrilling experience that makes you feel like Luke Skywalker at the end of A New Hope.
There are four different game modes to choose from: Hunt mode, which pits an indigenous specious of a planet against an invading force, Capture the Flag, which is a traditional two-flag style; Hero Assault, which is a heroes-vs-villains fight where players take control of classic Star Wars characters; and Space assault, which is pretty self-explanatory. For the most part, the objective is to completely annihilate the opposing team. However, this doesn’t make it redundant at all. The large-scale battles on a variety of well-designed maps keep me interested for hours and have kept me coming back for over 10 years.
Other than placing you in memorable Star Wars battles and giving you control of your favorite characters, Star Wars Battlefront 2 delivers highly addictive gameplay, fluid shooting, and exhilarating massive-scale fights. It still holds up to this day, and I prefer playing it over the mediocre reboot that came out a little over a year ago. It’s still playable online thanks to a third-party service, so I recommend you pick it up and play it if you never have. You can currently get it for a steal on Steam for $10.
The Last of Us
You’ve probably figured it out by now; I like The Last of Us a lot. In addition to its phenomenal, groundbreaking campaign, it delivers an equally incredible multiplayer mode called Factions. Delivering a set of amazingly designed maps and survival-based gameplay, it creates the tensest and most addicting online gaming experience I’ve ever played. Like Socom 2, communication and strategy are key, and having a collaborative team puts you at a huge tactical advantage.
Because ammo is so scarce, having good aim is critical. You need to make every shot count, or risk leaving yourself utterly defenseless. Additionally, moving from lockbox to lockbox and collecting items for crafting is essential. Having a Molotov handy when you’re out of bullets can make the difference between life and death. It’s unique in the sense that it makes you think more about surviving instead of laying waste to the enemy team.
An interesting aspect of the multiplayer that makes it more engaging is the metagame feature called Clans. It places you as the leader of a group of survivors over the course of 12 weeks. Each match played counts as one day, and based on your performance, your clan can either grow or dwindle. It’s a really cool and unique feature that keeps you playing because you want to see your little civilization thrive. Also, if you manage to survive all 12 weeks, you are rewarded with a PSN trophy.
As of late, I’ve been playing this game a lot. It still holds up, and the community is still active and enjoyable. I will say that I am disappointed by some of the added weaponry. When the game first launched, it was incredibly balanced. Now, however, special items (particularly the crossbow) have completely changed that. Though annoying, it doesn’t ruin the overall experience. I still find myself having just as much fun, even when I’m getting completely fucked by some asshole with an overpowered weapon.
What are some third-person multiplayer shooters you enjoy? Are there any you recommend I play? List them out in the comments section below and let me know what makes them so great!