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In the end, Condemned 2 wasn't about its multiplayer, and if it had been missing from the final product, no one would have noticed or really cared.

In Army of Two, however, the multiplayer felt like a wasted opportunity. I was pleased it was there until I realised that it didn't work (the servers would always lag and crash), which was very disappointing.

Some games are fine to exclude multiplayer (although if they are too short an experience I do think publishers should apply a different pricing model). Other games depend on multiplayer, and of course there's always the option to focus on good co-op to extend the game. Examples here are Too Human and Diablo II.

In Too Human, you lose all the storyline when playing with a friend, and in Diablo II you more likely than not will ignore the story when playing with someone else anyway. So none of that really matters with these games because the core of the co-op experience isn't based on the game's story, It's all about playing together, finding great gear and making your characters stronger. It's very much like World of Warcraft but on a smaller, more focused and intimate scale.

These games work very well, but then the trick is to figure out how much co-op is the right amount. Too Human had too little, as developer Silicon Knights really should have found a way to stick with the original four-player experience they wanted rather than chopping it back to two. I think what Epic is doing with Gears of War 2's Horde mode is genius - keep co-op through the story at two players, but add a special mode where you can play with up to five friends in an arena that has wave after wave of enemies coming at you and increasing in difficulty with each wave. That's giving players the choices they want! We get to choose to play with either one friend or five. They've given us the option and that's what a game such as Too Human should have done - they should have added a Horde mode of their own.

Even if the classes aren't 100% balanced, give us the option to choose it. Worst case, you can balance and patch it later.

Obviously, the most impressive are the games that do it all, and do it successfully. Gears of War and Halo being good examples. Those are both shooters, but there seem to be a few real-time strategy titles such as Red Alert 3 that are adding co-op into the mix as well, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out. Gears and Halo both had a fantastic "one day wonder" single-player experience which was made even better when played in co-op mode with a friend. Plus they had a fun, competitive multiplayer component which still has people playing today.

In the end, I don't believe it is fair to say that in today's age all games should have multiplayer because that's just not true. Some games do not benefit from it, indeed some games are all the worse for it because the developers have to focus their time on tacking on a multiplayer experience. This is time they could have spent to make the singleplayer experience even better. I would have much rather had no multiplayer in Dark Sector and instead been provided with a longer and more polished singleplayer game - one where the story could have been developed and fleshed out better.

It's safe to say that we all just want good games that are good value, right? Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a good game with a great story, but is it worth $120? I don't know, that's a pretty tough pill to swallow, because you'll finish it in 7-10 hours and won't have much reason to do it again (and if you do choose to do it again with an upgraded character, you'll finish it even quicker). So while it is a good game, I wouldn't say its very good value for money. Games like Uncharted: Drakes Fortune however are good value because they give a great, varied experience that lasts a reasonable period of time.

The same could also be said for BioShock or the God of War games, and while I would love to see some kind of awesome co-op in the next God of War, I would hate to see crappy co-op in it and have the rest of the experience suffer because of the time that was taken to develop that aspect.

I think developers should look at the games they are making and the experience they want to give players. Don't add multiplayer/co-op so that you have another marketing tag to add to the box. Do multiplayer if you can do it right and if it will truly add to the experience of the game.

If you have a game built around multiplayer, then make that the best kind of experience it can be and don't worry too much about adding a badly-put-together story on top of it, just for the sake of having one. This is something the venerable folks at Valve seems to be doing right (no surprises there) with Left 4 Dead.

It's all about choices; developers making the right ones for their games and us having the choices we need in order to have the best experience - and find great value in the games we play.

Agree? Disagree? Go to the Forums and discuss!