The big news regarding Halo 3, ever since this year’s E3 business and media summit, has been all about the co-op: Four-player this and four-player that. Now that Bungie has officially let the news loose about the four-player co-op over Xbox Live, I can’t help but feel that maybe it was a bit of a let-down. Especially given the build-up surrounding this buzz-worthy news.
I guess part of the problem with the four-player over Xbox Live was that us media geeks have sanctimoniously promoted the living crap out this particular news regarding Halo 3. But the main problem, is that such promotion came before this news was officially unveiled. So in a way, what Bungie had to unveil seemed a little less than what was anticipated. Especially given all the fuss and hype around the internet.
But take for example the cooperative modes in console games like Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, Star Wars: Battlefront II and Conflict Global Terror...all of those games were not highly anticipated for their cooperative features, with the exception of Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Chaos Theory . They were anticipated for their gameplay and as such, gamers had the bonus of playing them with the added cooperative modes. What’s more is that some of the fore-mentioned games had four-player splitscreen offline co-op and four-player online co-op or a combination of both, but didn’t glorify it in the way that some other games do. For instance, Gears of War’s two-player splitscreen and online cooperative mode was bland, unimaginative and lacked the taut mechanics that made games like Halo 2 or Rogue Trooper fun. Yet there was endless promotional efforts put into selling the cooperative mode for Gears of War. Press and media outlets jumped on the bandwagon for saying how cool it was that the game had a two-player co-op, when, in fact, that bandwagon had been trailing along for years before and in much better ways in previous games before it (i.e., Perfect Dark on the N64 and 007 Everything or Nothing for the Xbox and PS2).
I kind of feel it’s now the same thing with Halo 3; while it may be a cool feature, having a four-player online co-op, it’s not necessarily something that defines the genre, nor does it redefine what the genre aught to be. Yes, I admit, I was quick to praise the game along with the rest of the internet media junkies out there once the rumors of a four-player mode started spreading. But after speculation (and further reviewing another upcoming game on a rival system) I realized that too much attention is being paid to the wrong game containing a four-player co-op feature. What's more is that I think the media is partially to blame for the lack of coverage on some of the more innovative titles coming out for both Sony and Microsoft's consoles.
Now M$ fanboys, turn your eyes from this paragraph for a moment, because you’re not going to like what you’re about to read. But Sony’s first-person shooter exclusive for the PS3, Haze, (yes, the deal was made with Ubisoft at this year’s E3, in case you haven’t heard) actually prompts for four-player co-op online, four-player co-op offline, and a story mode that was built from the ground up with multiplayer cooperative modes in mind. See, that is this sort of thing that makes a gamer giddy all over. Now in Bungie's case, gamers had been requesting four-player co-op since after the release of the original Halo, yet it was no where to be seen in Halo 2, and is nothing more but what seems like a tack-on to Halo 3. Yet for some very odd reason, we’re glamorizing Halo 3's four-player more than we are Haze. Why?!
I’m not knocking that Halo 3's four-player online cooperative mode won’t be cool. But I am highly disappointed that the announcement of this mode comes from just under two months of the game’s release. And not only that, but aside from system link, the game is trailing Haze by not even offering an offline four-player co-op mode. I’m starting to think that the hype may have been for half the reasons we thought the game would be cool for. But whatever. What’s done is done, and this final first-person outing of Halo 3 will at least come with a four-player cooperative option. Heck, Bungie could have let the dollar signs roll even if the campaign mode only contained a one-player mode...so at least they’re giving fans most of what they asked for.