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Multiplayer Wish List, July 2009

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When it comes to playing online, I tend to prefer co-op experiences to competitive ones, though I dabble in deathmatch from time to time.  However, there seem to be some glaring oversights and omissions from playlists in popular online games these days.

Midnight Club: Los Angeles 
This was a staple among our online gaming sessions for a few months, but despite the South Central expansion, nothing terribly new or interesting was brought to the multiplayer table.  New cars?  Meh.  New parts of the city?  Nice, but doesn't change much except the basic geography available.

What I'm after here is something besides straight up racing or variants of capture the flag, which have long since gotten old.  The most obvious one to me would be the addition of police chases.  They're so common in the single player game that ignoring them for the multiplayer experience baffled me.  Co-op players versus AI cops would be a great start, offering point to point sprints, survival, trying to get the heat off a partner's tail, losing the cops in a certain amount of time, or simply adding police pursuers to existing Landmark and Checkpoint races would bring a welcome and exciting new element to worn out modes.

The cat and mouse play style lends itself to player-vs-player as well, with one team playing cops and the other trying to escape.  Police car specs could automatically be dialed up or down depending on what the suspect is driving to avoid being severely outmatched; a Ford Focus trying to catch a Saleen S7 wouldn't be fun at all.  Throw in some specific powerups for both sides and you've got a winner.  Cops could call in roadblocks, tire spikes, additional AI backup for 30 seconds, or an item that slows suspects by 50% for 15 seconds.  There are a lot of possibilities.

That's not to say the game wouldn't benefit from a little DM or TDM, either.  Every car in the game can only take so much damage before it stops for good, and a Last Man Standing sort of mode could offer something new, as well.

One other major thing that needs tweaked is pop-ups for joining races.  If you're on the car selection screen or viewing the map and someone proposes a race, a Join/Ignore box pops up over all of that, leaving you only to join in whatever ride you had before, or to skip the challenge entirely.  There's no way that I've found to still select a new car and then join the challenge.  I understand not wanting people to switch vehicles after they've accepted the challenge as that would lead to a lot of unfair match-ups at the last minute, but railroading you the way it does now is unacceptable.  What's more, you should be able to opt out of challenges from the pop-up Sidekick the same way you do in the single player game by pushing Up on the D-pad.  As it is now, you have to wait for it to expire, and cannot access the map (or gamer options features, like the friggin' mute button for mouthy idiots) for any reason without accepting the challenge.  Fix this.

All in all, I think there's still a lot of untapped potential in this otherwise excellent game, but until I hear of things like these coming down the pike, it's likely to stay on my shelf collecting dust.

Burnout Paradise
I know the Ultimate Box edition of this just hit shelves for the PC, but it's been nickel and diming console players for a while now, with very little new free content, but still requiring huge patches and updates be downloaded to keep playing the basic game online.  I fired it up the other night and was faced with downloading a 430MB v1.9 patch before we could do anything, and to our disappointment, after grabbing and applying said patch, the Criterion servers wouldn't let us connect to them, and playing together online was impossible until sometime the next day.

The hope was that, since we'd ignored the game for months now, there might be some new MP stuff to do.  Not really.  Cops and Robbers mode got added (if you pay extra for it), and there are new cars and a new island, but again, nothing terribly exciting for those on a budget or looking for something fresh.

Many of the suggestions above for MC:LA could apply here, too.  From what I understand, the existing Cops and Robbers mode involves grabbing gold and running it back to a safe house, a la Calling All Cars.  Where's the pursuit?  Where's the survival or Last Man Standing modes?  Has everyone forgotten what made Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 and Most Wanted such a blast to play?

How about Road Rage that you can play cooperatively against AI instead of just two or three people bumping into each other with none of the trademark spectacular crashes, and questionable determination of who exactly took down whom?  Heck, adding some AI to the MP mix to round out teams in other events or fields for a race could only help the experience.  Again, going back to NFS:HP2, we spent most of our time harassing the other AI drivers and cops rather than trying to actually beat one another to the finish line.

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