Here’s a question for you: Is a game with added multiplayer actually better than one which just offers a singleplayer? If you weren’t reading this on a blog, you might now rush to fill a pad of paper with a full thesis on the subject, either that or go throw a stick for a dog (As you are, you’ll probably just switch tabs to that video site about what happens when goats and dogs learn to fly) The reason I bring it up is because of something I noticed when I couldn’t remember what year Snowblind came out for the review I was write it. I looked at Wikipedia (Fountain of knowledge that it is), found the release date, and looked at the critical reception because I was bored. Apart from Deus Ex fans going ‘WAH! IT ISN’T DEUS EX BUT IT IS EVER SO LIKE IT AND I WANT A PROPER DEUS EX SEQUEL’ (Not that I’m cynical and think DE fans are babies), there’s a comment about how it was slammed both for a short length and a rubbish multiplayer.
Now, I’m not a real games journalist, and I don’t even see myself as a fake one, but it seems an unfair idea to mark a game on an add on like multiplayer. I wasn’t expecting a great multiplayer experience from the game, and thus never thought about it when I paid for it. I’m usually well aware of what I’m expecting to get out of a game that I’ve bought. I didn’t get Team Fortress and think, ‘Wow, this is going to be an awesome singleplayer experience!’, just as I didn’t think ‘Wow, Half Life is going to be great when I play it online!’. When I thought during a few weak moments about getting CoD, I was looking at the singleplayer experience because I have no friends, and most FPS multiplayer portions start to make me angry or think about attaching wings to goats and seeing if they fly. The PC Gamer review that I read mostly talked about how that it would only have scored 70ish% (Only? Isn’t 70 rather high really?), but the multiplayer made it 80%. What really annoyed me is that it gained an extra 10% by adding a multiplayer where someone who’s doing well will just win and there’s no need for hacks, considering that the game rewards you with x ray vision when you get a kill streak.
I agree that a rounded game might include a decent multiplayer. Bioshock 2 includes one, but isn’t just tacked on and breaks the world because of it. The review I read of Bioshock also didn’t dwell on the multiplayer, and judged it mostly on the singleplayer. But surely a reviewer shouldn’t add an extra 10% because a multiplayer was added. I hate the idea of review scores as it is anyway, but that’s beside the point. If you apportion most of a review to the single player aspect then you treat it as a single player game. Unless the multiplayer is astounding then leave that score alone.
There’s rumours that Snowblind started life as Deus Ex: Clan Wars, but then moved away because Invisible War did less than expected. Should it have been given a multiplayer review? Should Unreal Tournament be given a singleplayer review because it had a campaign? This is where it all falls down. UT’s campaign is, to put it diplomatically, not sparkling. It’s plain that it is a multiplayer game, but the bots are great for making you feel awesome. Just make sure you don’t then take it online. Bots are rubbish compared to real people.
Bots won’t make the problem go away though, and will make it worse in my eyes. I’m arguing myself into a corner here, but I still believe that just because you add a multiplayer you make a better game. If you are going to add one, make it fit into the world, don’t just tack it on. The fact that Bioshock is based in a world where everyone is angry and wants to kill you with respawn chambers makes it seem that it would work in multiplayer. Don’t make the mistake of making a game seem better just by taking it online.