Festive Feature #2 - Top 5 Co-Op Games of 2011

Festive Feature #2 - Top 5 Co-Op Games of 2011

Written Tuesday, December 20, 2011 By Richard Walker
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Playing games alone is great and all, but getting together and experiencing the tears and laughter as a team is often twice as much fun. Able to make or break relationships, a co-operative gaming experience is always a worthwhile pursuit, which is why we'll forever welcome a well-crafted co-operative game mode and celebrate it.

And so it is with our next festive feature that we round-up what we consider to be the year's best and most memorable co-op games, taking a single-player experience and transforming it into something that excels beyond expectations with buddies in the same room or in some far-off land, brought together through the magic of Xbox Live. So, whether you like to play co-op with your mate from down the road or a long-lost acquaintance living in Siberia, these are the games to do it with.

It's not often that a long development cycle ends with such a playable and addictive multiplayer game, but Dead Island managed to pull it out of the bag having sunk into obscurity for a few years following its initial announcement. Returning with a tearjerking backwards trailer, Dead Island was admittedly nothing like the video promised, but it still excelled as a co-operative experience.

Play Dead Island with friends or with a random stranger that happens to be in the same area as you, and the doomed island of Banoi will offer limitless zombie dismembering opportunities to you, with a wealth of blunt and sharp instruments at your fingertips. In 4-player co-op, each member of your team has unique abilities, making ploughing through the speedy undead hordes an unbridled pleasure. Who thought Dead Island would end up being such an enjoyable zombie slaughtering holiday?

Steelport might just be one of the finest sandboxes in gaming history, but it's not the world that makes Saints Row: The Third such a spicy proposition; it's the toys that Volition has crammed into the sandbox. Alone, a rampage through Steelport is fun, but with a friend, it's transcendent stuff that unlocks a huge treasure trove of possibilities.

Whether it's surfing on the back of a VTOL jet, marching into a turf war together brandishing matching penetrators, speeding down a highway in nitro-tuned cars or base-jumping off the highest building, there's never a dull moment in Saints Row: The Third's co-op, making it one of the year's most riotously fun gaming experiences that money can buy. How much chaos can you create on your own? Now times that by two and you have the reason why Saints Row: The Third is simply awesome in co-op.

If you thought that the 2D platformer was a genre consigned to history and the Xbox Live Arcade, think again. Rayman Origins is not just one of the finest platformers of any kind to grace consoles in quite some time, but it's also one of the most brilliant 4-player co-op games around at the moment, encouraging four-way slap fights and a race to each of the game's end of level goals.

Helping one another out is the name of the game though - provided you can resist the urge to sabotage your buddies - and you'll find that making progress in Rayman Origins' colourful and varied world is a lot simpler and more pleasurable with a four-strong team made up of Rayman, Globox and two teensies. It's a triumphant return for Rayman then, and having played Rayman Origins in 4-player co-op, we can honestly say that we hope to see a lot more from the wotsit and his buddies.

You know the drill: Gears of War 3 is pure co-op nirvana, curb-stomping its 2-player predecessors with support for at least 4-players across all of its modes. 4-player co-op campaign is just the tip of the iceberg, what with Horde, Beast and the Arcade mode all offering a wealth of co-operative gameplay that'll keep you chainsawing and gibbing for months, if not years. Equally superb solo or with comrades, Gears of War 3 is almost unparalleled as a co-op experience, lovingly crafted by a developer that knows this shit inside-out.

Competitive multiplayer is impeccably well-balanced – save for the inherent frustration the sawed-off brings for some – but it's our co-operative Gears of War 3 sessions that have really succeeded in standing out for us this year, bringing friends together both against the Locust in the newly revamped Horde mode complete with a welcome dose of tactical defensive fortification, and as the Locust in Beast mode. Killing waves of Locust is always great fun, but turning the tables on the COG is a stroke of genius. That said, Horde remains one of the greatest co-op modes in any game, remaining the original and best - like Corn Flakes – among a sea of soggy imitators.

Gears of War 3 is undoubtedly brilliant, but nothing has brought us as much joy and gratification this year as getting our melons around Portal 2's co-op test chambers. Where the first Portal created brainteasing puzzles with the genius concept of travelling in and out of portals, throwing lasers, balls of energy, switches and companion cubes into the mix, Portal 2 retains all of these components and goes not one, not two, but several better by stirring in velocity-altering gels, matter transporting funnels, catapulting faith plates and more.

The result is a brain-melting cerebral co-op experience that puts sweet and endearing protagonists Atlas and P-body through the wringer, as GLaDOS keeps an eye on every move that you both make. When you and a buddy aren't putting your heads together to unravel Portal 2's fiendish rat's maze, you can always taunt one another or enjoy a hug, and when you are thinking through your approach for solving each test chamber, not only do you have to reach a solution, but you also have to correctly co-ordinate that solution with careful communication and orchestration.

Portal 2 is the perfect marriage of smart design and great gameplay, which in co-op translates into puzzling alchemy that'll make or break friendships. But nothing beats that 'eureka' moment when you and your co-op partner finally see the route out of a test chamber, and for that reason, Portal 2 is hands-down the best co-op game this year.

Be back here tomorrow for our third festive top 5 feature! Be there or be square.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #1 by robjuh93
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 03:16:22 PM
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Nice list:D

Forum Posts: 247
Comment #2 by atomic viking54
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 05:32:53 PM
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Awesome that rayman got on the list!

Forum Posts: 139
Comment #3 by KILLSHOT666
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 05:33:59 PM
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Love Dead Island, should be higher imo... but nice list!

Forum Posts: 314
Comment #4 by Kreegles
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 07:48:42 PM
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Good list! IMO saints row should be switched with rayman, but other than that very good list!

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Comment #5 by mjc0961
Tuesday, December 20, 2011 @ 09:14:24 PM
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Enough with the pointless IMOs. Is this x360a or the department of redundancy department? Everyone already knows it's your opinion because it's clearly not a fact, and anyone who doesn't know that isn't worth catering to anyway.

Forum Posts: 1772
Comment #6 by dirge
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 05:53:03 AM
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Love these lists and features you do every year, ut then again I just love this site! Best place for xbox news, ever!

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #7 by cam91191
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 06:08:30 AM
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Enjoyed playing Portal 2 with a friend a while back, but not a game I could play for hours on end, so wouldn't personally be my number 1. limited choice of co-op games out this year (or last year if reading in 2012) so couldn't think of anything else to add to the list :)

Forum Posts: 245
Comment #8 by CoffeeAddict5
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 06:44:46 AM
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@ 5 I like seeing how close these guys are to having the same opinion as I do. I've enjoyed these because so far they're pretty darn close.

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Comment #9 by Infection Ftw
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 10:21:52 AM
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@5 if you don't like them then don't read them and don't reply to them. It's just something extra that SOME of us DO appreciate. And it's a nice list IMO.

Forum Posts: 1178
Comment #10 by MartyMcFly
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 10:43:12 AM
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IMO #5 sounds like a douche.

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Comment #11 by Webb [STAFF]
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 01:04:38 PM
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@#8&9 - I'm fairly sure he's directing his comment at #4... He's saying you don't need to say "IMO (AKA in my opinion)" because everything anyone says that isn't fact is an opinion.

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Comment #12 by Infection Ftw
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 01:24:52 PM
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@11 now I feel stupid lol. Reread it with that in mind and it does make sence. Normally I type it full myself anyway. Still making a big deal about it because 2 of the 4 first posts used it is a bit of an overreaction:P

Forum Posts: 103
Comment #13 by PaulGreg
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 03:04:43 PM
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Putting IMO dosnt hurt anybody, everytime i read something on this site whether it be a feature or game news there is always at least 1 wanker trying to belittle people by correcting gramma or acronyms, @12 dont backtrack on your comments just because a mod disagrees with you.

Forum Posts: 404
Comment #14 by ViNyLek
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 04:04:30 PM
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Now that I went through this list I realized how very few co op games are out there. Sure most of them tackles MP and what not, but making a game designed from ground up for multiple players is not so common as of yet=(

Forum Posts: 623
Comment #15 by ScottCorno1987
Wednesday, December 21, 2011 @ 04:51:53 PM
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Rayman being couch co-op was a bit of a let down.

Totally agree about Portal 2 though, probably the game I have enjoyed most this year full stop!

Forum Posts: 44
Comment #16 by cartortroy
Thursday, December 22, 2011 @ 05:45:55 PM
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Switch Rayman and replace it with flashpoint red river

Forum Posts: 192
Comment #17 by DeathConvoy
Thursday, December 22, 2011 @ 08:50:05 PM
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I have to disagree with Portal 2, it was fun and I enjoyed it, but it has zero replay value. Once you know how to beat the puzzle, thats it you're done. Like watching repeat episodes of any medical or crime drama. You know what happens, its boring.

Dead Island, Gears both are varied and offer some form of progression as you play. Dare I suggest the Spec Ops/Survival modes of MW3? I'd say beating some of the Veteran Spec Ops had a better 'eureka' moment than Portal 2 ever did.

Honorable mention for EDF:IA and Dynasty Warriors 7.

Forum Posts: 38
Comment #18 by Aussie27Legend
Monday, December 26, 2011 @ 08:42:25 AM
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Couldn't have said it better myself, well done.

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Comment #19 by Tomafork XD FTW
Monday, December 26, 2011 @ 10:26:42 PM
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totally agree with portal2, just cracked 800g in 2 days of playin:)

Forum Posts: 62
Comment #20 by Original
Saturday, January 07, 2012 @ 07:43:58 AM
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Like if you want to slap #5
Awesome list in IMO!
Not one miss-placed.

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Comment #21 by Motorexskygtr32
Saturday, January 07, 2012 @ 02:16:10 PM
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I agreed with many posters, Portal 2 should be not #1 here. Many reasons here is it's too short, and a little replay value. Next time, making online co-op game list, make it ten games.

In particular no order for me of 2011 online co-op games that everyone should give it a try if likes to play with your friends online. Already played Dead Island, and Portal 2.

Just a few 2011 games to add.

-Halo:CE Anniversary
-Earth Defense Force Armageddeon
-Dead Rising 2: Off The Record (Haven't played this but did played DR2)

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #22 by RIDE or COLLIDE
Saturday, January 07, 2012 @ 04:50:57 PM
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I think Toy Soldiers: Cold War should have been on that list.

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Comment #23 by WREQUIEM
Saturday, January 07, 2012 @ 07:14:56 PM
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@17 is right imo but i'm not sure if reployability counts in awards.

Forum Posts: 62
Comment #24 by mhitt46
Saturday, January 07, 2012 @ 09:03:48 PM
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In my personal opinion Dead Island should bat out Rayman. I mean Dead Island has zombies and more. Rayman I am not so sure on.

Forum Posts: 55
Comment #25 by CoolMarquis97
Saturday, January 07, 2012 @ 09:52:14 PM
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Great list

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Comment #26 by Games 4 Ever
Sunday, January 08, 2012 @ 10:10:18 AM
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It would be so cool if Assassin's Creed had 2 or 4 player co-op.

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Comment #27 by DRNoob
Sunday, January 08, 2012 @ 11:23:35 AM
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Where's Halo: Anniversary?

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Comment #28 by bawrash
Monday, January 09, 2012 @ 04:01:40 AM
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FEAR 3 is the best coop i've played this year. Only just picked it up for a tenner but its opened my eyes to coop games which dont just have you killing or pulling levers together. This game is true team work.

Forum Posts: 106
Comment #29 by bawrash
Monday, January 09, 2012 @ 04:04:22 AM
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#27 Anyone who says halo anniversary either hasnt played online coop or should be shot.

Forum Posts: 220
Comment #30 by FaSCoRP
Monday, January 09, 2012 @ 08:53:53 AM
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Agree with #28. F3AR has better co op than others like Gears of War. In Gears everybody do the same. In FEAR 3 Pointman and Fettel have different abilities and it depends about how to use it, how you defeat the enemies, the fun you get. I played the campaing more than three times and it was still fun

Forum Posts: 393
Comment #31 by grumpiercloud
Monday, January 09, 2012 @ 10:30:11 AM
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Wow I'm really glad that Rayman made it into this list!
Although accidentally hitting each other around was frustrating it was worth a good amount of laughs :D

Forum Posts: 138
Comment #32 by Japanese Table
Monday, January 09, 2012 @ 10:17:28 PM
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Very surprised to see the lack of Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon on this list. Then again, I enjoyed the game far beyond the score the site gave it, and the site makes the list. Still a solid list, Portal 2 Co-Op was definitely number 1. Thank you for putting the time into doing these lists x360a.

Forum Posts: 194
Comment #33 by TimespliTT
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 @ 08:07:04 PM
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it would be a nice list if it had 20 co-op games to choose from. this list is pretty much all there is for co-op fun.

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Comment #34 by RJMWalsh
Thursday, January 12, 2012 @ 02:25:43 PM
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@3 You lked Dead Island?

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Comment #35 by F1xurownem41l
Friday, January 13, 2012 @ 01:59:29 AM
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@3 really? Co-op was terrible, every time I started the game stopped. I will say it was a GOOD, only good, but far too many things glitched it out, or just made the game die all together, not worth my $60 in the end.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #36 by Spacedoctor
Saturday, January 14, 2012 @ 07:54:32 PM
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portal deserved the win, awesome co op

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #37 by jrp1234657
Monday, January 16, 2012 @ 09:29:41 PM
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@5 Ooooh, we've got a badass here.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #38 by XXXWOLFFXXX
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 @ 12:30:17 AM
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Portal 2 FTW! great game and great co op.

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #39 by Melty
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 @ 08:34:48 AM
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That reminds me that I really need to buy Portal 2 and Rayman...

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