A common trend among video games nowadays is to offer a single player and multiplayer experience options either in cooperative game modes or player versus player modes.  We have this option from FPS games, MMOs, puzzle games, all the way to 3rd person action/adventures.  Quite frankly the blending has not been a bad thing, but in fact a great thing for the gamer as a whole.  Without the ability to have multiplayer interaction we may have never gotten some of the best games we have seen in the last decade.  Gamers have proven to game producers time and time again that they want to be able to play their games with their friends or head to head against them online.  The days of have your pals over to your home creating war stories while playing split screen CoOps in fading fast.  Today I examine some different games that have brought us both types of game play and how well they achieved their goals.

I will jump right into the most obvious game type, the First Person Shooter.  A franchise that has done a great job of moving multiplayer interest to the mainstream is Call of Duty.  Many FPS franchises have come and gone, and CoD is the unquestionable leader of the pack of all of them ever.  CoD came with, like many FPSs, with a campaign driven gameplay, offering player versus player online game modes.  Single player campaign with CoD started off as the driving force behind the franchise and had many enjoyable, well presented, and action packed gaming. Multiplayer was and is done well on CoD, especially with the advancement of CoOp online by Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare versions, and ofcourse the ever popular PvP modes. 

The single player experience has begun to dwindle over time as the franchise has obviously started to put more of it's focus on the multiplayers side.  The storylines have become less and less exciting to play and are starting to have a very predictable cookie cutter feel to them.  There is little to no challenge when completing campaigns, unless you are on the "shoot the chopper out of the sky with an RPG in 6 seconds or less before it wastes" you scene, which seems to be popping up no matter what version you are playing.  Auto aim and regenerating life take away from the feeling of eminent danger that once made the campaigns exciting.  The cinematic feel of the game improves all the time, but quite frankly, CoD is now missing the boat when it comes to the single player experience.  They are pushing the hollywood glitz over interesting storylines.  CoD is not the only FPS missing the boat, Battlefield 3 came up short on campaign as well! While the campaigns are not completely trash yet, I feel that the single player is losing it's identity in this franchise, and that is a shame! ( SP Grade - C)

The multiplayer experience has grown to be one of the best over this current generation of FPS  games. MW1 thru 3, and the Black Ops duo have introduced plenty of interesting game modes, a plethora of fun weapons, and uncountable head to head moments of awe and gut wrenching frustration.  I have never been more challenged to strive to be a better player than I have been than in CoD.  I am no fan boy here, but I will say when it comes to PvP FPS competition they do it very well.  I love Battlefield, and appreciate the realness it exudes, but I enjoy the jaw dropping craziness of CoD, especially when myself and my clan mates lay it down on the smack talkers in the lobby. Outside of annoying faceless opponents who rant and insult other players, this is still a multiplayer game done right!  The games are fast paced and full of action, complimented by good looking graphics and easy to play game mechanics. (MP Grade - A)

Now we look to the opposite side of the FPS spectrum, the Borderlands game.  This game is absolutely hilarious with a dose of good action and great stories.  The single player/CoOp campaign are down right dead on.  The cell shading graphics compliment the over all action comic book feel that oozes from the game.  The characters are interesting, the missions are stupid fun, the game just looks great, and the action is just off the wall and crazy.  This is everything you can ask for in a futuristic science fiction comic book FPS.  I have no complaints about this game and can go for hours and hours on solo campaign, or sharing the screen with my son as we race from loot cache to loot cache.  The sequel of this game is spot on to the first, and actually just raises the bar of its predecessor! This is a franchise that plays to the single player experience and puts a lot of effort to get the players to relate to the characters.  The dialogue is superb and customization options are fantastic! (SP Grade - A+)

The downside of the franchise is the multiplayer.  This is not because of the quality of game play or graphics drop, but the actual multiplayer experience falls flat.  This failure is due to the players and  the game.  This open world game is fun to explore with friends, but mind numbing with strangers you meet at random.  Playing missions as a group seems like a lot of fun, but most times I find that my compadres are just running around trying to find glitches or battling each other over and over and over and over and over...you get the point.  There is little variety in what you can do as a multiplayer, outside of group missions, which are the same as the solo missions.  If they could have given more types of games modes, I think we would have seen some of the best multiplayer to date.  The DLC  offered a change of pace with the Moxxi wave style CoOp play, but I still found that it was enjoyable played with a split screen than with random matchups with online players. This multiplayer experience falls short solely because there is not enough to do.  This leaves players to be idle and forcing them to make up their own ways to pass the playing times in a game which is confined to the developers game modes.   I love the Borderlands series, but avoid online multiplayer, which only reinforces how well the single player experience is and how that overcomes any faults.  I know I will get bashed for this by Borderland fans, but sometimes the truth hurts.           (MP Grade - D)

DC Universe Online or DCUO, a MMO, has an itroduction phase that promotes cooperative play, but can be done as a single player.  The initial first 30 training levels are designed to prepare you for the endgame itself, which is outwardly 90% multiplayer.  I had a bunch of fun in the initial 30 levels playing by myself or teaming up with other newer heroes to finish off the missions and boss fights.  This is a third person MMO which is great because of all of the character customization options.  It is fun to play, and fun to look at!  As the player maxes out in levels (30), they find themselves with very little to do on their own as the gameplay options open up to cooperative play through raids, missions, PvP, and multitudes of other modes.  This forces interaction, and for the most part it is solid. 

I have very little complaints about the mechanics or the graphics, which stay consistent throughout all the game modes, nor is there a problem with interacting with other players.  Unlike CoD, where a majority of players with headsets tend to spend most of their time telling you how much better they are than you, DCUO players tend to be pretty positive and team oriented.  I have come across a jerk here or there, but for the most part, I love my DCUO compadres.  I think this MMO does it right, combining the initial single player aspect and forced unions for higher level game play.  In order to advance, everyone needs to be active and work together, or everyone fails. (SP Grade - A)(MP Grade - A)

A 3rd person action/adventure game that has outstanding single player gameplay is Red Dead Remdemption.  Much like many Rockstar open world games, this was chock full interesting characters, a massive open world, a plethora of missions and events, workable game mechanics, and some of the best Rockstar graphics to date.  It was impressive to look at, and the story was phenomenal!  This put all of previous GTA titles to shame when it came to wanting to drive the main storylines.  I was compelled to follow this game to its end, and the side missions flowed well with the storyline, giving a episodic feel.  (SP Grade - A+)

RDR fell flat on its face when it comes to multiplayer online.  Running around the countryside with a buddy in CoOp taking out gang hideouts was fun, but was repetitive and ultimately lost its zeal.  Multiplayer gang fights was just a blunder with its very straightforward repetitiveness that just killed its luster.  Rockstar just failed to match it's singleplayer sucesses in multiplayer.  Much like Borderlands, the multiplayer was just not versatile or expansive.  Players were left to do their own thing in a game that offered little to do.  I was left with a huge empty feeling when I played. (MP Grade - D)

Rockstar found a way to completely redeem themselves, in the form of GTA V.  The single player side of the game has many of the same successes as RDR but in your typical GTA fashion.  Missions and characters are consistent with the series, with the addition to the heist aspect, which makes the 3 playable character aspect very interesting. The graphics continue to improve in this series, and the landscape looks gorgeous for a game of this magnitude.  All in all this is a big fun single player game. (SP Grade - A)

There is a huge improvement of online multiplayer from RDR to GTA V.  There are a large variety of activities to keep players focused on group play, but still has the open world "go and mess around" choice.  The difference of this open play vs mission mulitplayer to that of Borderlands is that this game was designed for people to just goof off.  Goofing off in Borderlands does not produce funny moments, but plugs up multiplayer.  GTA V plays to GTA's silliness and that works. YouTube has hours and hours of great online videos that range from serious mission playthroughs to zany antics and nonsense.  This game takes the open world and turns it into a massive playground of guided and unguided mischief, but overall fun for all types of players! (MP Grade - A+)

Online multiplayer is a great thing for gaming! Paired with the advancements of next gen consoles, it will become even more prevelant.  My biggest hope is that it will not take away from single player gaming, like it has in the past.  Ever here of Uncharted multiplayer onine? Yeah, I know right?!
Feel free to tell me what you think about it any of this!

Game on gamers!

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