The rapidly increasing popularity of multiplayer computer games continues to threaten the continued existence of traditional single-player-focused computer games. Multiplayer games provide a much greater lasting value, and oftentimes a much greater thrill, than most single-player gaming experiences can offer. Most games published this year included or even emphasized a multiplayer mode, but the following five nominees stood out as being the most polished and most enjoyable.
Because of its great multiplayer component, Westwood's fast-paced real-time strategy sequel exemplifies why this genre has become so popular. Finding a game online is very simple: If you want to jump into a game right away, you can use the quick-match option that pits you against a random player almost immediately. Red Alert 2 is sure to provide you with quick and challenging competitors.
Dark Reign 2 is a futuristic real-time strategy game that features a great multiplayer mode. Players can connect to servers easily and find the games they want to play, including standard competitive skirmishes and many variations on traditional real-time strategy play. The networking is also stable and fluid, even with dial-up connections. Pandemic Studios has released many add-ons and mods for the game, all of which make Dark Reign 2 a very well-rounded multiplayer game.
Diablo II is successful in that it is just as addictive as the original Diablo. The never-ending quest to get better equipment drives people to play long online sessions. Blizzard's proprietary Battle.net lets players meet up for games, chat about equipment, and even set up games solely for trading items. The five playable character classes also extend the game's replay value significantly.
Originally designed as a free downloadable mod for Valve's shooter Half-Life, Counter-Strike has evolved in the past year to become a huge success. Its fast-paced, realistic, yet incredibly addictive gameplay has held players' attention for hours at a time and months on end. The game features a huge number of real-world weapons and pits terrorists against counterterrorists in a number of different scenarios.
In addition to its incredible graphics, MechWarrior 4 features an excellent multiplayer mode that lets players strap themselves into custom-designed walking BattleMechs and have at it in an all-out deathmatch or in team-based modes. The game is very stable online, and it's very easy to jump right into a game session.
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