TA Top Five: Co-op Games

By Michelle Balsan, 3 years ago
For many of us who grew up playing games before the internet was so readily available, a big part of the fun of gaming was having some buddies over (or maybe making peace with your siblings) and spending an evening on the couch playing video games with each other (and eventually shattering that delicate peace with your siblings). Whether it was a pass-and-play style game, like the original Mario Bros, or an all-out competition, like Goldeneye, we’d spend countless hours building gaming memories with some of our local friends.

Times, of course, have changed, and one of the benefits of this change is that we now have a whole world of fellow gamers out there who can enjoy various gameplay experiences with us. If you’re like me (and who knows, you may be), your gaming horizons have changed substantially with Xbox LIVE, and co-op may be one of your go-to reasons to pick up a title. Due to this fact, we’re now going to present to you the top five co-op games on the 360.

Before proceeding though, I just want to note a couple of things. First, there are many MANY co-op games on the 360, and five isn't a big number, so this list obviously isn't all-inclusive. Second, I tried, as best as possible, to pick games from a variety of genres so as to give various styles of co-op a shoutout.

5. Castle Crashers

When Castle Crashers released on XBLA in August of 2008, The Behemoth apparently didn’t realize just how big a hit this co-op heavy title would be. While the game was received very well (it currently sports a shiny 4.3 rating from users here at TA), it was plagued by early connectivity woes due to all the people trying to get in and share in the riotous adventures of the four multi-colored knights as they engaged in some princess rescuing. In the core game, it is necessary for gamers to look out for each other, as they can assist their fallen comrades with a push of a button. Much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, however, being selfish about a high kill count has its rewards, and keeps the game fun and engaging.

4. Portal 2
Atlas and P-Body

Portal 2, for many, was an immediate sell. Sure, we wondered what the masterminds at Valve would be able to pull off that we hadn’t already seen, but we trusted it would be well worth our time and money. As we know by now, not only did they deliver an exceptional campaign, but they also included a co-op campaign that may be enough to purchase the game for in its own right. In the co-op, you play as Atlas and P-Body, two small bots who need to work together to make their way through some of GlaDOS’ most tricky puzzles. The co-op implementation really requires that the players work together. While talking it out certainly makes things easier, which is part of the fun, players who can’t speak to each other for whatever reason are able to do so via simple commands, such as pinging the wall on which you want your co-op buddy to place a portal. There is also something incredibly rewarding about high-fiving your co-op partner before moving on to the next testing chamber. The campaign is short, but well worth finding a friend and experiencing together.

3. Rock Band 3

Maybe it’s not the case anymore (though some… or me… might argue it should be), but Rock Band nights were all the rage on college campuses five or so years ago. Unlike most games, where a campaign is core to the co-op gameplay, Rock Band’s strength lied in taking things one song at a time (though there is also a campaign mode for those looking for the band to stay together more long term). Though it hardly seemed possible at the respective times, the Rock Band titles always improved dramatically over their predecessors. By Rock Band 3, gamers could pick bass, guitar, drums, or vocals, just like they always could, but they could now also use “Pro” instruments, and up to three vocalists could join in on the fun. Though the height of the genre’s popularity has come and gone, there’s still something intangibly cool about everyone successfully triggering overdrive at the same time for that maximum multiplier.

2. Halo 4

To be honest, I actually struggled a tiny bit with this inclusion because Halo’s strength is often seen as its competitive multiplayer. In fact, while the campaign multiplayer is fun in that it’s entertaining to have up to four people on Legendary grousing about Promethean weapons, the story doesn’t account for co-op at all. It’s just four Master Chiefs inexplicably journeying together and then becoming a single unit as cut scenes demand it. Co-op, however, isn’t about a single game mode, and one of the areas where Halo 4 shines is in the co-operative elements of its competitive MP. From capturing flags to protecting hills, working together with your team for MP dominance is one of the series' many strengths, and with the continued release of new maps and modes for its most recent entry, there’s good reason to keep getting the gang together to try to rule the day.

1. Gears of War 3
10/6/11 Screenshot 5

The Gears of War series, from the get go, was built for co-operative play. The third game opened up new possibilities by allowing four people to join. While Halo did the same insofar as having a 4-player campaign, the difference here was that each player was in control of someone integral to the story, thus giving that feeling of attachment to a character that lacks in Halo’s campaign co-op. For those of you who experienced the campaign with three friends on insane, you can attest to how necessary it is to tell your co-op partners, “I’ve got the enemy on this side of the roof,” or, “I’m down here, please help!” The need to actually work together with your teammates, from helping them up when they’re down to drawing enemy fire, is central to making it feel as though you are truly a part of a team, and what puts this at the top of the heap of co-op experiences.

Of course, there are, as noted above, many, many more co-op games out there, from the obvious (think Battlefield or Call of Duty), to the less obvious (Magic has a co-op campaign, in case you didn’t know). As one of the core things we like to do here around TA is bring gamers together, this Top Five is setting the stage for the launch of a brand new feature: Co-op Corner. In this feature, two reviewers will sit down and look at a game’s co-op aspects and try to convince you, the reader, why it’s worth it for you to drag a buddy or three along. What’s different about this feature is it won’t just feature Newshounds. We’ll get the ball rolling, but what we’d like eventually is for a pair of you guys to tell us, and the rest of TA, why whatever game you choose is an amazing experience that should be played by all. Once we get the feature fully launched, we'll put out the call for community driven submissions, so go grab a controller, a buddy, and get your game on, and if you want to tell the world about it, let us know!

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Michelle Balsan
Written by Michelle Balsan
Michelle is the Assistant Manager of the Newshounds at TrueAchievements and has been a member of staff since 2010. When not contributing to gaming websites, she makes her living as a mild-mannered librarian. She can be compelled to play just about anything if there's a co-op component, and has been playing games with friends and siblings since the Atari 2600. As it's reportedly healthy to have hobbies outside of gaming, she also roots for some of the most difficult sporting franchises to root for, the New York Mets and New York Jets, but offsets that by rooting for the New Jersey Devils. She's also seen pretty much none of the movies you have, but she's working on that.