It’s easy to forget, but PlayStation 3 isn’t just about big-budget single-player games. Indeed, while Sony’s flagship home console is host to some of the finest, compelling slices of solo-based gaming this generation, it’s also home to some truly breath-taking cooperative experiences to boot. Whether it be good old fashioned split-screen co-op or taking the action online, PS3 gives players more than enough incentive to get on the blower to a couple of mates and team up for a session. And, while it’s fine to cultivate your competitive nature by going head-to-head, every now and then we just want to put aside any friendly rivalry and combine our gaming expertise to bring down a massive boss or lead an assault on an enemy base. Wouldn’t you agree?
As such, PSU.com thought it would be a great time to extol the best co-op games available on PS3, as decided by our staff. Enjoy.
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RESIDENT EVIL 5
Chris Redfield’s African excursion lacked scares, but more than made up for it adrenaline-fuelled shoot-outs and a superb co-op offering. Played solo, it’s a competent third-person shooter in the RE4 mould, but it isn’t until you team up with a mate – either locally or online – that the game really starts to shine. Under the control of the A.I., partner Sheva is a bit of a mess; a walking, talking inventory box who has a penchant for spraying you in the face with herbs when you least need it and pinching your ammo. Playing co-op however, RE5’s shootouts become a tactical playground where coordinating with your partner allows you to counter enemy attacks and efficiently take down your opponents trouble-free. Fancy going up front with Chris and a Shotgun while Sheva hangs back and snipes distant targets? Go for it. How about having Chris distract a pack of Majini while his female companion lays down some sneaky proximity mines? No problem. More importantly, you can converse and trade key items without having to fiddle around with some dodgy request prompts. Team work really comes into play during the excellent Mercenaries campaign however, where you combined efforts can result in some massive score combos as you dispatch wave after wave of incoming foes. Sure, RE5 doesn’t change the rule books, but it’s still one of the most compelling co-op outings out there.
While it remains to be seen how the sequel measures up in terms of co-op, for now, the original Borderlands is unequivocally one of the best on the market, period. Available in both splitscreen and online, Borderlands gives loot-happy gamers a chance to team up and tackle the RPG/shooter hybrid’s missions together. Pandora is jam-packed full of baddies to square up against, and in co-op you’ll find them in greater numbers, not to mention harder to kill. As such, battles become far more frantic, and the thrill of teaming up with your mates to tackle the incoming hordes is a palpable thing. It’s even more rewarding with four players online, however, and everyone benefits from the completion of quests, letting you acquire new items and experience pretty sharpish. Those of you who are a low level will have no problem rising through the ranks, and co-op is a great place to do it, plus you’ll bag tons more loot to boot. In short, Borderlands does everything right with co-op. The game is tailored for team work, and you’ll get the most out of the game by bro-mancing your way through the wilderness, strategically dispatching enemies and hunting down hidden treasures.
UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE’S DECEPTION
Nathan Drake’s latest treasure-hunting romp is a right corker in single-player, and its sweeping, cinematic storytelling is second to none. However, it’s also worth remembering the game packs a meaty multiplayer offering too, including some top-notch co-op action. Uncharted 3 packs its own unique side story Co-Op Adventure mode, where players encounter some familiar and dastardly faces from Drake’s past, such as Eddie and Flynn, alongside iconic locations spanning all three games. While the narrative connecting these stages is tenuous at best, it does provide the backdrop for some gripping co-op adventuring, where gamers team up to tackle objectives while battling against gun-toting baddies. Uncharted 3’s solid shooting mechanics are just as satisfying in the online playing field as they are solo, and working together to take down your foes adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay – after all, it’s far more interesting to rely on a real mate for the task. Furthermore, there’s heaps of medals to unlock too, giving you further incentive to hone your skills with a sniper rifle for example, or pull off some immaculately-timed headshots. And the best part? Earning these medals rewards you with cash which you can then spend on pimping out your character with weapon upgrades and other goodies. Make no mistake, you’ll be addicted to this for months.
ROCK BAND 3
Okay, so you might look a bit of a plonker flailing about with plastic instruments, but you’re unlikely to find a better co-op experience out there than getting together a group of mates and rocking out to Rock Band 3. Whether it’s online or locally, the game’s extensive set lists ensures a fresh challenge is just around the corner, ensuring your group of wannabe musicians must be in perfect harmony – both literally and figuratively, in Rock Band’s case. It’s not just the thrill of being in a Rock group that lends the game so much fun; it’s the addictive, fast-paced nature of the gameplay, which sees gamers testing their might at everything from singing, drums to shredding guitars. The harder things get, the better you need to become, making things pretty tough going. In fact, sessions can be pretty arduous at times, requiring dexterous finger work and meticulous timing in order to nail the song. With a boatload of genres, tracks and challenges, Rock Band 3 is one of the most comprehensive co-op outings on PS3 to date.
Sick of playing plastic instruments or blasting hordes of zombies/aliens/gun-toting goons (delete as appropriate)? Fancy something more cerebral from your co-op endeavours? Then Portal 2 is your new best friend. Valve’s seminal puzzler is a stonking single-player effort make no mistake, but teaming up with a buddy really takes things to the next level. Featuring a dedicated co-op experience, Portal 2’s puzzle-packed laboratories are a breeding ground for team work, patience and rewarding satisfaction. You’ll really need to bag yourself a solid partner here as you put your thinking cap’s on to overcome the brain-aching puzzles spread throughout the sprawling Aperture facility. Make no mistake, this ain’t no walk in the park; Portal 2 requires absolute dedication and really pushes the meaning of team work home. Indeed, there’s not many games out there that give you the same sense of collaboration as Portal 2 – team work isn’t just an advantage here, it’s absolutely mandatory. And all the better for it.
Insomniac Games has hung up its Carbine for good as far as the Resistance series goes, but boy did it go out with a bang. After the misfire that was Resistance 2, the former Sony-exclusive studio returned with this third entry, compelling co-op campaign and great single-player all rolled into one. While more stripped back than its predecessor, Resistance 3’s co-op is easily the best of the bunch. Simply put, you blast your way through the main story with a mate in tow, soaking up all the eye-watering set pieces and gripping narrative along the way. Having a mate to help take the sting out of the tenacious Chimera forces works great while not completing nullifying any sense of challenge, and adds a degree of tactical depth to the proceedings. The best part is you don’t have to be online to enjoy it either, with old-fashioned split-screen on offer for those who want to enjoy the company of your partner in the same room. It’s every bit as good as Resistance 1’s co-op, but has the added advantage of Resistance 3’s meatier story and stunning visuals and epic battles.
MASS EFFECT 3
Commander Shepard’s epic sci-fi swansong is first and foremost a solo outing, but BioWare still managed to pull off the shocker of slapping on a multiplayer component that didn’t feel shamelessly tacked on. And the best part is? It’s fuelled by cooperative play, and contributes to Shepard’s galaxy-wide struggle against the Reapers. Mass Effect 3’s solid amalgam of cover-based shooting and flashy biotics is the perfect template to build a thrilling, tactical co-op experience, and sure enough, it works like a charm. Whether you’re playing as a trigger-happy human grunt or a Salarian techno nerd, ME3’s multiplayer offers a wealth of difference races and classes for you to get to grips with, catering to a myriad of playing styles. Fancy sniping foes from afar? No problem. Prefer to unleash biotic hell upon your foes? Yep, you can do that. More than anything though, Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer is bloody tough, and requires top-notch team work and strategizing to make it through in one piece. Wave after wave of foes attack, be it Geth, Cerberus or other common foes found in the ME universe, and each require different tactics to take down fast and efficiently. Throw in some objectives such as detonating bombs or taking down specific enemies in a time limit, and you have a fast, frantic and incredibly satisfying action-packed experience that’ll ensure Mass Effect 3 takes up permanent residence in your PS3.
Hailed as one of the best multiplayer experiences to date on Sony’s black box, Starhawk supports a robust online offering, which includes co-op for up to four players (including two-player local co-op). While admittedly doffing a mighty cap to the likes of Gears of War’s Horde mode among others, it doesn’t detract from the fact Starhawk’s co-op is just bloody brilliant stuff. This is in large part due to the excellent base building mechanics, giving you plenty of strategic muscle with which to defend your base with. Enemies come in waves in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll need to adjust your tactics accordingly while holding off the approaching hordes. The maps themselves are fantastic too, offering plenty of diversity in terms of appearance so you won’t start suffering from the monotony of gawping at bland environments for hours on end. In fact, PSU was so impressed with the multiplayer offering that we dubbed it the PS3’s answer to Halo in terms of the online space.
What do you think are the PS3’s best co-op games? Let us know in the comments section below.