Listen, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in the video game world, be it slaying dragons, ripping dudes heads right off their shoulders, mauling baddies with your blades, or gunning down wave after wave of enemy that shouldn’t have messed with you, the point is that it’s that much more exciting when you got a friend or relative there with you to share the killing and the glory. In today’s age, you can’t call someone your “best bro” unless you’ve played and beaten some, or all, of the following games that allow you cooperatively play through the game together (alternating turns games don’t count). Here’s the list of the top 10 best Co-op games ever....

This is what co-op is all about! In Two Crude Dudes on the old Genesis system, nothing was going to intimidate you and your best bro as you two take on enemies of all shapes and sizes, tossing them around like rag dolls and stocking up on your energy cola to replenish your health. You know you are tough dudes when you can pick up the final boss, as big and scary as it may seem, and toss it like a paper ball. That’s a work of art right there!

If you were to take all of the elements from your favorite co-op shooters of all time, dating back to the NES all the way up to the current generation of systems, and put them all in one small package in the palm of your hands and add ad-hoc cooperative play you would have Killzone: Liberation. Nothing like the previous Killzone game on the PS2, or any other game on the market, Killzone: Liberation mixes classic elements of games like Contra (such as unrealistically slow moving bullets so you can duck and dodge) with elements of new age games like Halo (such as the ability to commandeer vehicles and tanks) and creates one perfect game so you and your best bro can have fun blasting through the Helghast hordes, co-op style, anytime anywhere.

You are Marcus Fenix, and your bro is Dom Santiago. Together, as Gears of War, you two can play through the campaign mode cooperatively in one of the most fun and unique shooters of all time. The plethora of weapons you receive in this game, the variety of scary enemies, and the extra co-op assistance from NPCs make the co-op experience just that much fun for a third person shooter. To add a little something extra in there, the game, thanks to next-gen technology, is able to force you two to split up for certain missions and forks in the road, meaning occasionally you won’t have each other’s support, and that’s what makes you realize just how much you need each other in a game like this.

If you remember watching a cartoon on Saturday mornings about this game with your best friends when you were young guys , then you may remember playing this oddly addicting game with them back in the day, as well. Double Dragon II was notoriously hard, and even had a “Friendly Fire” option, to make things more difficult since your buddy could accidentally kill you. But no challenge was too ridiculous in this game, as you spent every waking hour trying to get to the end and avenge your girlfriend. Fighting a pro-wrestler on a helicopter as he attempts to throw you out the door? All in a days work for Billy and Jimmy!

Though it might not sound like the ingredients for an instant success, the Mortal Kombat team did make quite the creation. They took two of the most popular games of all time, Mortal Kombat I and MKII, changed the genre to action, re-imagined the events and characters of the classic series, and then threw in a co-op campaign so you and your best bro could team up to relive some old memories in 3D. Choosing from either Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sub-Zero or Scorpion you and your best bro could do everything that made the MK series famous, from famous fatalities to upper cutting your enemies onto a bed spikes, to classic “GET OVER HERE!!” spears, to appearances from familiar faces like Mileena and Baraka, all in a quest to save Earthrealm from the deadly Shang Tsung and treacherous Shao Kahn.

Handhelds don’t usually get a lot of great co-op games, but Monster Hunter Freedom 2 is a co-op lovers dream come true on the PSP. The game allows up to four players to team up on their own PSP’s, and in a realistic fashion complete missions of all variety. This isn’t some Kratos game where you take on behemoths face to face, Monster Hunter is a strategy game and having buddies on the field to help you is all a part of the strategic fun. Perhaps one of you will be used as human bait, chopping away at a giant monster’s leg with your sword, and while you distract him you have a buddy or two up in the hills sniping away at him with shots guns and explosive arrows. If variety is a good thing in cooperative play then Monster Hunter is a great thing. There’s hundreds of different armors you can wear, hundreds of different weapons you can wield in battle, and dozens of huge enemies that you need to take down to make some cold, hard cash. Never go into battle against huge dragon-like monsters alone, always use your buddy as human bait so you don‘t get hurt.

Two player split-screen cooperative games are nice, but four player co-op without all the splits in the screen and the ability to play as such comic book icons as Wolverine, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Captain America, Iron Man and more? Well that’s just a great co-op game right there! With a huge amount of playable characters and a scary cast of villains (from Galactus to Doctor Doom) this wasn’t a mission you wanted to do alone, and really is a great co-op game on any system, from the PSP to the Wii to the 360. Add in an intriguing story and the fact that you or your friends can change your characters at any save spot, and we have a winner!

You and your buddies got to chose from one of the four Ninja Turtles: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, as you chased after Shredder and wave after wave of foot soldier to free Master Splinter and April in one of the earliest and most advanced co-op games of it’s time. In an era where playing as turtles who happened to be ninjas was extremely cool, this game took everyone’s quarters in the arcades, as we all united for the common goal to bring down Shredder.

Talk about classic! If you’re worrying about paying your bills and working a job there’s a good chance that you probably spent the better half of your grade school days playing classic Contra on the old NES with your best bro, back in the day. Simple, yet complex, Contra was the ultimate fast paced game for you to play 2 players back in the day. While games like Mario had alternating turns, and games like Zelda were one player only, Contra let you and your bro play as palette swapped characters at the same time and cover each other’s back. It was a tough game but with a little help, you and your buddies could beat anything back then!

Combat, Camaraderie, Cash! The name says it all. If you’re a big fan of playing co-op games with your best bro, then you may already feel like an army of two, so why not play a game that capitalizes on that? Army of Two is a shooter that plays exactly like it sounds, you and your best bro are put in really sweet armor, doing various missions in overwhelming odds, on a quest to make cash and constantly buy bigger, better guns, and you just do that thing you do, kill everyone that looks at you wrong. But what Army of Two does that other contenders for the spot (such as Halo and Conflict: Denied Ops) didn’t was invent creative new co-op ideas in the gameplay. Everything from co-op parachuting, to back to back slow motion shoot outs, to boosting your partner up on your back so he can reach hard to shoot places, was new and exciting in this game and that’s why Army of Two captures the #1 spot. Playing Army of Two with your buddy is a treat, and it may make you a little reluctant to go back to other games without intuitive features like Army of Two. Army of Two is the new staple of what co-op games should be, and you can bet that other games wishing to have co-op in the future are taking note of this and will be looking to dethrone this near-perfect game and it’s well deserved top spot.

So that’s it. While there are many great co-op games out there, these ten were the ten that truly deserve mentioning, and if you and your buddy really think you’re video game champions you should’ve played and “pwned” all of those exciting game with cooperative game play. The future looks bright for co-op gaming as Army of Two demonstrates, but let us never forget the classics (like Contra), as we move on to a bigger and badder generation of gaming where the enemies are so realistic and so tough the only way you can beat them... Is with your best bro.

List by blueninja4444 (03/25/2008)

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