A big mistake developers have been making quite often during this latest generation of video games is that they exclude offline multiplayer components to go along with their online entities. There are multiple examples of games that do this and suffer as a result, like Army of Two, whose multiplayer versus mode is limited to online play or Grand Theft Auto IV, who abandoned the wildly fun offline co-op option from San Andreas for online-only multiplayer. You could go on and on, but that would be pointless. Thankfully, not all game developers have forgotten that offline multiplayer is just as important, and almost always much more fun, than online multiplayer, and they have taken the effort to include such a feature as offline multiplayer, whether it be split-screen or same-screen, in order to make their video games as entertaining and enthralling as humanly possible.

This one was a no-brainer to include on the list. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance takes after developers Raven Software’s previous action-RPGs, the X-Men Legends series. The basic premise of the game is that you, and a total of three possible friends offline or online, choose between a colorful cast of some of Marvel’s greatest super heroes and play through quite a hefty campaign of hacking and slashing with some innovative gaming features sprinkled in here and there. Ultimate Alliance is loads of fun to play with some buddies for couch co-op and there’s a ton of unlockables to work for together.

Long before Halo was the online multiplayer king, players everywhere squatted down in front of their TVs with a few buddies to play some Slayer. Even the latest installment, Halo 3, hasn’t forgotten its offline past and hasn’t ditched this feature for its game. The offline multiplayer of Halo 3 is nearly identical to its online counterpart, with the ability to save clips via Theatre, customize maps using Forge, and customize your character for your multiplayer battles. The only real problem is that you can’t rank up offline like you can online (which works quite well, if the original Perfect Dark has taught us anything), but it’s still a load of fun to toss a plasma grenade on your buddy’s arm for the umpteenth time and perhaps earn a punch right to the shoulder yourself.

Overall, Fable II was sort of disappointing. That is, single-player wise. A lot of people were actually disappointed with the co-op aspect of the game, but I was not only pleasantly surprised, I was blown away. Fable II’s co-op is very reminiscent of San Andreas, except you use swords and spells instead of guns and Molotovs. Going on murderous rampages throughout the game world is fine, but you can also complete the entire storyline together offline if you want to. Gold and experience points earned for the player whose world isn’t being played in transfer to their actual character back on their save, too, plus it’s just fun to make your friend lose his wife…by shooting her while he’s not looking, that is.

Call of Duty 4 could just as easily have this spot on the list, but I went with World at War simply because it’s the most recent entry, and because it basically copies 4’s multiplayer gameplay while adding a few things here and there. Anyway, offering up to four-player split-screen and FPS gameplay, the Call of Duty games are a no-brainer, especially World at War. You can have some simple deathmatches offline if you’d like with your friends, but you and one other friend can also take on some Nazi zombies for some more entertainment. While the Nazi zombies feature could have support four-player split-screen and the co-op campaign is pointless since you can’t save offline, plus you can’t rank up, World at War does pretty much everything else right and is a shining example of a game that is just as fun offline as it is online.

For a while before its release, Resident Evil 5 didn’t seem like it would include any offline multiplayer, with all the previews constantly talking about the “online” co-op. Thankfully, RE5 decided to include offline multiplayer, in the form of Mercenaries and the main game, which was freaking awesome. Hopefully Capcom remembers to include offline multiplayer for their upcoming releases Dead Rising 2 and Lost Planet 2.

The first Gears of War allowed you and one other friend to battle it out in multiplayer split-screen, but there really wasn’t much of a point. The sequel, Gears of War 2, totally revamped the multiplayer to be absolutely excellent for offline gamers. You can now add bots to the multiplayer gameplay to mimic the online experience, plus the same split-screen co-op experience the original offered has returned in full force.

Many are probably surprised to see this make the list, but just hear me out. Left 4 Dead is insane amounts of fun offline. Not only can you play through the campaign in two-player split-screen, but you can also play the versus multiplayer offline and you can even earn all the achievements in multiplayer, something that is often left out of games that include offline multiplayer for some really stupid reason. While it would be awesome to see a Left 4 Dead game with four-player split-screen for the versus mode and campaign, the two-player will have to do. Killing zombies with your buddy on the couch is always more fun than killing them with someone who lives in Timbuktu anyway.

Both GRAW games deserve to be on here, just like the Call of Duty games, but GRAW 2 is the latest installment so I’ll go with that. Allowing four-player split-screen for the multiplayer campaign, the GRAW games are loads of fun offline. You can also do the versus mode as well as plenty of other options for a great offline experience. I really can’t wait for the next game in this series, and I hope the developers are smart enough to keep the offline tradition of the series going strong.

The SmackDown! vs. Raw series has always sold well and has always been a ton of fun, whether you’re a fan of professional wrestling or not. Offering four-players offline for versus, as well as offline co-op for Rey Mysterio and Batista’s Road to WrestleMania storyline, 2009 is the best in the series this generation. While the General Manager Mode in previous entries was missed, 2009 makes up for it with the aforementioned features. Plus, without offline multiplayer, you wouldn’t have the satisfaction of seeing your buddy’s jaw drop after you kick out of his finishing move…for the fifth time.

Without a doubt, Perfect Dark Zero is, in my opinion, the most underrated game this generation. Coincidentally, PDZ offers a bountiful offline multiplayer option that is one of the most entertaining multiplayer components in any game ever. Bots are available as well as a ton of unique weapons and vehicles for the ultimate multiplayer mayhem. Being the prequel to one of the most revolutionary multiplayer games of all time doesn’t hurt either.

I really hope the trend of online-only multiplayer games starts to die out. Video game journalists who interview game developers also need to start asking the question: “That multiplayer sounds great…can you play it offline?” It’s just annoying when I go to sites on IGN or GameSpot and I read an interview about the multiplayer and this question isn’t brought up. Offline multiplayer is still as relevant and entertaining as online multiplayer, and without it, games just aren’t as entertaining as they used to be. If you’re looking for a game that you can play on your 360 with your friends without having to have four different 360s, four high-speed Internet connections, and four Xbox Live Accounts, then I hope this list has helped you out. Happy gaming.

List by horror_spooky (08/14/2009)

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