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Best Multiplayer Game of the Year (Posted Dec 28, 2004) Printer Friendly Page

2004 Multiplayer of the Year

There where some great multiplayer games that didn't even get considered this year, like the indie console game Alien Hominid, which features some fun co-operative play, the addictive massively online multiplayer puzzle game Puzzle Pirates, and the cool RTS game I of the Enemy that has some great multiplayer action for up to 8 people.  With that crop of games being left out, the winners had to pull some serious strings to get in.

5th Place - Hamsterball

Developer: Raptisoft Players: 1-4 (vs and Party Games)
Release: February 2004 Dowload Now!
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8+, 700Mhz, 32 MB RAM

Hamsterball may find itself in a finalist in more categories than any other game.  Already winning the Action category and finishing in the top 5 in the graphics category, it honestly wouldn't feel at all out of place in the sound category either.  So why does it make it in the multiplayer category? 

Two good multiplayer aspects make the game great to play over and over again with friends.  First off there is the versus game.  This was an addition from when Hamsterball was first released.  Much like the game Marble Madness you can race a friend through the zany tracks that that this game offers, with the races being split screen so you don't have to worry about leaving your friend in the dust only to find them warped up in front of you.

The other multiplayer mode is a versus game.  That game mode could have simply let you play versus in a single location, but instead it offers a board for every map in the game, each with different obstacles and pitfalls, such as mousetraps and pinball-esque bouncers.  The addition of the multiplayer and versus games were late additions to this game, coming out months after its original release and helping to show the developers commitment to this great title.

Our Review:
"Hamsterball is a great game start to finish, and a wonderful example of all that is right with Indie gaming."

4th Place - Chromadrome

Developer: Alpha 72 Games Players: 1 or 2 (vs)
Release: June 2004
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8+, 32MB Video Card, 800Mhz, 128 MB RAM

Chromadrome was the second of games featuring those lovable Chromates this year.  In this game you get to test your ability at super high speed movement down a track that features lots of chromates in your way and of course a few loops and spiral twists.

Chromadrome seemed to perfectly capture the craziness that can occur when you are in a game built around speed, and you will find yourself tensing up as the track comes at you fast and faster each second you are running down it.

The speed of the game leads to an intense single-player mode, and if for some reason you weren't sweating enough while playing that mode, the option to hook up two mice to the computer and have each person control their own chromate in a split-screen speedathon is available.  It is a race that I think anyone could enjoy and it certainly gives a nice rest from the endless barrage of FPS games that seem to make up the majority of the multiplayer game market.

Our Review:
"A nearly perfect game that all players should check out. There really isn't much more you could hope for in such a game."

3rd Place - Hazard Ball

Developer: Chris Eastwood Players: 1-2 (Co-operative)
Release: June 2004
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 7+

Hazard Ball is a game that I get a feeling few people have played.  Why haven't they played it?  Well the easy answer to that is that the graphics just aren't that great.  While they do enough to get the job done, you definitely won't be running to your friends telling them that they have to check out this game.

That in part is actually why indie games exist, to provide games that are great games, games that provide great game play, games like Hazard Ball.  What this game lacks in graphics it certainly makes up in play.  You control a ball in a 2D overhead world where you have to accomplish a series of tasks to move onto the next level.  The tasks are entertaining, but what makes the game really fun is the co-operative play.  You really can accomplish more and have a more interesting game by playing this game with a friend.  Co-operative play is something that just isn't used enough in games in my mind, and when it is, typically it just means two guns pointed towards the same target, there are few games where you really put more than just your physical might together and Hazard Ball is a game that shows why putting your mental might together is typically a lot more entertaining.

Our Review:
None at this time

2nd Place - Gish

Developer: Chronic Logic Players: 1-2 (vs)
Release: May 2004  
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 1000 mhz+ Processor, 32 MB Video

As if the single player excitement that won Gish the adventure game of the year award wasn't enough, Chronic Logic went to great lengths to add one of the most entertaining 2-player versus modes I've played since Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition was released.

Gish features not one, but six different versus areas that each provide a different and entertaining challenge.  From trying to score touchdowns by pushing a football past the goal-line to trying to flip each other off of a wavering platform, the concepts are all pretty simple, but it is the execution and the variety of different ways that you can play the game that make this one more fun that you would have thought possible. 

Gish is one of the better characters to come out in recent history, and you would be amazed what you can do with a ball of tar if you haven't played this game yet.  Using your sticky body you can grab a football, and then when you near your opponent, bounce yourself up in the air at an angle and release the ball from your gooey body to let it fly over the goalpost.  Getting that done takes a lot of good reflexes and ability, and all of that leads to fantastic game play.  Gish already won our Adventure game of the year, and with the wonderful multiplayer aspect to the game it came in just short of winning its second award in the Multiplayer category.

Our Review:
"For those who aren't downloading the game at this moment, all I can say is get to it, you won't be sorry, this is the gaming experience of a lifetime."

2004 Multiplayer Game of the Year Award - Void War

Developer: Rampant Games Players: 1-8 (LAN)
Release: September 2004 Download Now!
System Requirements: 600MHz, Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8.1+, 16MB+ 3D Card (TNT2 or comparable or better)

Void War made a lot of noise with its initial release.  With some obvious marketing flair, Rampant Games managed to get some of the more hardcore gaming sites to check out even its pre-release versions of the game and drummed up a lot of interest all around the web.

It is perhaps because of that interest that this is a game that many mainstream gamers have played.  While many have played it, I don't think that many have truly experienced this game. 

The graphics in Void War are alright, but I have to admit they are not up to mainstream standards and there are some indie games, notably Starshatter, that really leave this game in the dust visually.  Probably because of that one reason those who check the game out from the mainstream find themselves quickly turning it off and trying something else. 

Honestly that is their mistake and loss.  While the single player game is certainly alright on its own, it doesn't compare at all to the fun that can be had by playing the game as a multiplayer over the web.  I know you are thinking that there are a lot of space games out there where you can blast each other to pieces, what makes this one different? 

Well consider it this way, there are a lot of FPS games out there, and while there are a few good ones, most of them suck.  Why?  Because in the end even mainstream gamers can identify games that have terrible game play, and they won't play them en masse.  Void war offers very solid game play that puts strategy into this game and makes playing the game online just as enjoyable as playing any of the best FPS games.  For those who take the plunge, I don't expect I'll see you back around for awhile.  For that great aspect to a solid game we honor Void War award for the best multiplayer game this year.

Our Review:
"Void War is a perfect example where good game play and balance can make up for less-than-perfect graphics and sound effects."


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