Multiplayer games are like whores.
Enjoy them for a short while until something better comes along and forget it immediately. Great single-player games, however, are like those sacred few true loves.
I play an abundance of multiplayer games, but never for more than a few months. Hell, if we’re admitting some hard truths, rarely for more than a few weeks. I enjoy viciously murdering a bunch of prepubescent 12-year-olds over Xbox Live, and quickly hitting the mute button to protect my ears from their searing screams of rage/joy (it’s much the same noise at twelve). Then I promptly forget about it when my console pimps out another multiplayer offering, which is more or less the same, but perhaps slightly more pretty. I’m either shooting people, or trying to get a ball somewhere before my opponent. Either way, new is always better.
That’s not the case with single-player games; at least, the few truly great single-player games.
Think about your top five games of all time. I’d daresay they are all single-player offerings. That’s why you remember them. These campaigns are special and memorable, even if you’ve had to leave them behind.
My admiration for Ocarina of Time has waned since playing and owning it on four different platforms. It’s one of the best games ever made, but I would probably hold it in even higher esteem if I had never revisited it after all of my Nintendo 64 controllers decided turning left was no longer a required function. It would be a lost love, but one I remember fondly with memories that cannot be tarnished.
The only multiplayer games that bestow even remotely similar memories are GoldenEye and Perfect Dark, and multiplayer was only part of the package. I remember them affectionately for their campaign and co-op respectively, as well as the intense four-player splitscreen.
Of the more recent offerings, it’s only the single-player masterpieces that standout. Super Mario Galaxy, the Uncharted Trilogy, Metroid Prime 3, Portal, Twilight Princess, Borderlands, Batman, Mass Effect, Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim, BioShock and Grand Theft Auto IV.
I probably spent more time collectively in the Call of Duty, Halo and Fifa multiplayers, but I don’t really care for them. I used them, while I awaited the next single-player stroke of genius. The games I really care about.
The death of the traditional single-player game is a recurring theme in developer interviews, but they’re all wrong. I don’t care about social interactions and the campaign connecting the with online multiplayer. Even in the aforementioned games that dabble with some of these new age ideals, I ignored them completely. I talk about them in high repute for their unequivocal solo experience. That was their key intention, and any slap-dash attempt to make it a more “social” experience was lost on me.
I enjoy these games as an isolated experience. Perhaps something I can discuss with like-minded individuals after completion, but not as some sort of depraved contest during the quest. It’s like those idiots who insist going to the movies be restricted to social occasions. It’s discussing the movie and outrageous inflation of popcorn prices afterwards that makes it social; consumption of the film itself is very much an individual experience.
That’s how I most enjoy the best games. Multiplayer exhilaration is good for a quick fix, but it is the amazing solo adventures that I will always cherish.
By Ben Salter - Bio