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Playing well with others

2010-10-13

I am largely a single-player kind of fellow.  The types of games I play are typically more story-driven than not which doesn't often lend itself to a multi-player experience and, if there is one, it's usually tacked-on as an afterthought.  There are a few exceptions to this, Halo mostly, but even then I'll play for a week or so and then be done.  Now certainly this doesn't count MMOs as that's an entirely different beast (though, in truth, when playing WoW I don't really go in for the raids or even a party as dealing with others is such an experience in pain that relaxing is out of the question), but I can really count on one hand the amount of titles I've actually delved fully into multi-player with.

When I picked up the Left4Dead pack I knew I was doing so to, honestly, play it solo.  While the AI certainly leaves something to be desired (I finally fired up L4D2 and in the first Hotel level all three of my teammates tried jumping over the fire rather than going around it and died for their efforts) it's often not too terrible and doesn't mar the experience.  Others would likely disagree with me but I've tempered my barometer enough to allow for some flexibility there.  Strange that actual human interaction is enough to send me into a blind fury but having a computer counterpart that's special needs seems just fine by me.  Anyhow:  my brother also happened to pick up the pack and we've played a few times online now and, I will readily admit, that the game becomes significantly better with friends.  I'm pretty sure I'd still hate multi when playing with strangers as I really just don't have the patience for others, but there's something blindingly funny about watching your brother run across a platform, get caught-up by a Smoker and dragged away only to be pulled just across a Witch's path startlingly her and then getting leaped on by a Hunter.  All in the span of three or four seconds.  While instinctively you want to rush into the fray and save your kin, it's hard to see through the tears and the laughter to do so.  Should I also mention that a Boomer threw up on him moments before that as well?  I'd like to see some sort of achievement in place where you get ravaged by each of the special zombies in less than ten seconds but there doesn't appear to be one.  All that was missing was him getting punted by a Tank but, to be fair, when we played a few days ago and he was defending the roof of Mercy Hospital, one blindsided him while on the turret and he went sailing.  Also hilarious.  

So while perhaps it isn't quite right to relish in the pain of others, it does make the entire ridiculous experience that much more, well, ridiculous.  It just becomes fun.  I enjoy playing games like that where people are somewhat less concerned about the outcome and more focused on just enjoying themselves.  Sure we all want to beat the level but it's more interesting on how that happens rather than doing so effectively.  Like throwing paint against a wall and seeing what happens.  The only real element of consistency is in knowing that, if there is a Witch, my brother will somehow find her and startle her regardless of her position on the map.  He's a wonderful sacrificial lamb that way.  And it's also wonderful to know that, without hesitation, I will somehow be pinned by each of the Hunters in turn like some terrible pig-pile.  

Good times.