A Boy's first steps into the dark world of Multiplayer

So this weekend was free Gold membership over on XBox Live. I've always dismissed Multiplayer in the past; previously the notion of playing Call Of Duty and being called a "fag" every five minutes wasn't high on my gaming agenda. I always banged the drum of single player and base my judgement on a game on that and that alone. But, I've always been a man to put my figurative money where my metaphorical mouth is (like the time I sold my body for medical science, but that's a whole other story), and I had a great number of games with multiplayer options that I wanted to go back to, so I took this opportunity to throw caution into the wind, don my best headphones, mentally prepare my mind for all many of racial slurs, and dove in. 
 
Since I was young, I never really played games with other people. Primarily because we didn't have another controller for the Mega Drive but I lived out in the middle of nowhere, not many people just dropped by to play games. When we got the first PC in the house, I once dabbled in this game I heard a lot about, "Counter Strike". However, being on a 56k modem, My 10 seconds in the game involved staring at a character to see if he was a friendly or not, but the lag was so great that I was shot before I could make a judgement.  
 
I decided to start with what I know would be a popular first choice - and one I was guaranteed to get a game on - with Modern Warfare 2. Starting off at the lowest rank and entering games where the second lowest was around 25, I thought that I was going to get picked on straight away. Alas, this wasn't the case - Although that was probably more down to going to a straight up Deathmatch rather than messing around with team based stuff, which I knew I'd bone up straight away. Getting kills against this people who had probably been playing for a long time was satisfying, and despite coming in last with a bullet (pun not intended), it was easy to get to grips with and the whole unlocking system gets rather addictive. This became my main game this weekend actually, drifting into one game and staying there for a couple of hours was worryingly simple to do. One thing I didn't get, however, was the stories I had heard from friends of mine of their siblings completely losing their shit in front of the game - I found it a fun experience, and hearing someone (who didn't sound old enough to play the game, may I add) calling me a "wanker" just made me feel that hey, these dudes need to chill. Get me? Although I must admit, Going through Burnout 3 does produce the same responses from me...
 
I'm a huge fan of Left4Dead, one multiplayer experience I often encourage my friend to play split screen with sometimes, but never really tried it online before. While the mechanics of the game are the same if you're playing solo or not, playing the game online made me rapidly come to the conclusion that I really wasn't very good. Whatever team I was on quickly lost no matter what I played. So despite lots of achievements being online only, I decided that maybe Left4Dead was probably something I kept to myself. 
 
Before I carry on with some other games I played, let me talk about some that I attempted that were pretty much completely dead. First I attempted a quick match on my recently purchased F.E.A.R. 2. To be fair to the game, there were some people playing it. However, I was on a team of one against a team of two in a capture the flag style game. As you may imagine, it was fairly unbalanced - I believe I got one kill against their 30+. A similar thing happened with Team Fortress 2, in that against one other person when you are trying to defend some control points, and with a respawn delay, it was always going to be a losing battle. Two games that had not a single person online when I tried to play them, were Aliens Vs. Predator, and Condemned 2. Both games of questionable quality, it was somewhat a disappointment to have whole areas of games unavailable to me even if I wanted to play them.  
 
One final game I tried online was Bioshock 2. A game of no real purpose other than cashing in, but of more than adequate gameplay, the multiplayer was a whole new feature that could only work with this more streamlined combat system. However, as Bioshock 2 felt like a graphical step down from the first game, the mutliplayer takes that even further down it's path and looks ugly in a number of places. Working on a similar levelling up system like Call Of Duty, it's obviously functional enough but very, very boring. Two matches of Deathmatch was more than enough for me and the levels go on past 40! Some people must have the patience of saints... 
 
All in all, I took from this experience that dismissing multiplayer for the most part was foolish - but on evidence of some of these experience, entirely justified. I've seen people say that some games, like Alan Wake, should have had multiplayer "tagged on". Now, surely I don't need to explain why that's a bloody awful idea - multiplayer needs to be a well constructed area that Call Of Duty works in, and Bioshock doesn't. This also makes me worried for the Dead Space 2 multiplayer as well - the "community" want multiplayer, but like Condemned 2, it probably won't be played 6 months later. 
 
 
Skipped to the end? Multiplayer isn't that terrible after all.

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