I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic when it comes to gaming lately. Not in a “they don’t make them the way they used anymore” to way. Although let’s be honest… they don’t make them the way they used anymore. No, what really pulls my heart strings is how gaming experiences just aren’t the same anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I know we’re living in a golden age of gaming we could only dream of as young gamers. However, I just wish we could experience these new and exciting games in a similar way as we did as children.
What I’m trying to say is, I really miss the enjoyment split screen gaming used to bring to me and my friends as gamers. I understand why modern game developers are probably never going to invest substantially in split screen gaming again. It’s just not worth it financially. Online is the way forward. Still though, I can’t help but sigh every time I see a promising new title and realise I’ll never experience it in split screen.
So in my sentimental funk, I thought: Hey! I may not be able to change how multiplayer gameplay develops in the future. But at least I can write about the joys I experienced in the past… even if no one asked me to. Without further ado, here’s my favourite split screen experiences!
Time Splitters 2
Undoubtedly the best game split screen gaming experience goes to Time Splitters 2. Hands down, this is my favourite game from my childhood. I spent countless hours huddled around a hefty box TV with my cousins, the screen divided into four tiny segments, having the time of my life playing this game.
It genuinely feels like Time Splitters 2 was made to be enjoyed like this. Originally released in 2002, this game offered the ultimate multiplayer experience, before online gaming was a major thing. The main story could be played in a two-player cooperative mode. This essentially meant you could enjoy the entire game with a friend, which made the entire experience more rewarding. Especially that haunted house level. I don’t think I’d ever have been able to face that place alone, but with my cousin, it became my favourite level!
However, the Custom Arcade mode where the split screen magic really came alive in this game. With tons of characters, maps and game modes to choose from, players were spoilt for choice. My personal favourite was the Virus mode – like tag but with green flames – with everyone playing as those super-fast and annoying monkeys. My cousins and I used to turn all the lights off and play this mode in the hospital map, making it creepy as hell. Still my favourite gaming memory to date!
Another great game to play split screen was Halo 2. Honestly, all the early Halos were great when it came to multiplayer functionality, but Halo 2 always stands out as the best in my mind. Much like Time Splitters 2, all early instalments in the Halo franchise offer local co-op play in the game’s campaign mode. Playing through the plot of monumental games such as Halo 2 with a friend physically by your side experiencing it too is genuinely indescribable. For all you older gamers, you’ll remember how much of a bonding experience this can be. I’ll never forget the time I spent as Master Chief, John-117 and Thel ‘Vadamee.
The multiplayer game mode in Halo 2 was also top class. To this day, I can remember zooming around Coagulation in a Banshee trying to knock my cousins down. The maps in this game were some of the best the franchise has seen. Everything about this multiplayer experience was brilliant for 2004. Back then, when online gaming wasn’t something casual gamers like me experienced regularly, playing Halo 2 split screen was the best multiplayer experience you could get!
A little less hard-core than my first two choices, but not bit less fun is Crash Bash. The best way to differentiate between this game and my first two choices is this. You’d play Crash Bash after school for a bit before homework, whereas Time Splitters 2 and Halo 2 were games you’d stay up late on the weekend to play.
Crash Bash is nothing more than a party game made up of loads of different mini games. It’s a common concept for games nowadays, but playing these party games in split screen was something else. Let’s just say emotions ran high. One game mode in particular, known as Polar Push really used to get the blood pumping. Basically, you’re on a big block of ice and have to knock the other players off to win. A simple last man standing concept, but an adrenaline fuelled gaming experience none the less!
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Zombie Mode
In my opinion, the zombie mode of Call of Duty: Black Ops was the last decent split screen experience offered to us gamers. The time I spent decapitating the undead in Kino Der Toten with my cousin is the last time I remember properly enjoying split screen. This game mode was undoubtedly addictive, and really worked well when it came to local co-op. While the zombie mode in the latest COD instalments are still good, playing this mode on split screen was way more practical. You ask your partner to buy the door, they do it. You offer up survival strategies without any issues arising. There’s no communication issues when you play zombies split screen.
Today, it’s getting increasingly harder to enjoy the zombie mode of COD online. People you match with just don’t listen. Everyone does their own thing, making it difficult to make it into double figure rounds. I’ll never enjoy grinding rounds in zombies as much as I did when split screen was an option.
What were your favourite games to play split screen on? Do you miss split screen gaming, or do you prefer online mulitplayer? Let us know in the comments below!