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The Multiplayer Experience

There’s only so much that programmed artificial intelligence (AI) can accomplish before you figure out a few tricks that can give you the edge.  In sports games, this is a particular problem because there’s usually one or two ’secrets’ that take advantage of the programming and allow for easy scoring.  This is not really the fault of the developers.  It’s just a reflection of how limited AI players are.

This is all the more true when it comes to AI in FPS and action titles.  Once you’ve got it down, there’s no real challenge.  It feels like you’re just going through the motions.  This is when single-player games fail.  Ultimately, when you look on a single-player experience, it’s just a series of scripted sequences developed to tell a story.

The true test of your abilities will only come through a multiplayer experience.  This is where you get to see if you’ve got what it takes to prevail against cunning and highly skilled opponents.  Multiplayer modes are available for most PC games these days.  Whether you want to loot dungeons with your friends in an RPG or MMORPG, duke it out in a deathmatch or ’capture the flag’ in an FPS, or match wits with other armchair generals in an RTS, multiplayer gaming will provide you with hours of endless challenge and entertainment.

Because of the intense hardware requirements of most games these days, you’ll need a broadband connection to fully enjoy a PC multiplayer game.  When it comes to multiplayer, you’ll probably have to tweak your settings more towards the performance side of things.  High quality settings will only slow down your ’ping’–essentially the delay between doing something on screen and having it registered as an action on the server.  The lower your ping, the better.  You can read more about minimizing your ping for each specific game elsewhere.

If you want my recommendation, go straight to the store and grab one of the Battlefield games.  Battlefield: 1942 is older but runs extremely smooth on most modern systems.  You can re-enact some of the major battles of World War II with 50 other players at once, and there’s no subscription fee!  Battlefield: Vietnam is the newest version of the game, and features soundtracks that you can play for everyone to hear while you’re leaning out the side of a helicopter.

Multiplayer games have spawned an entire generation of gamers, etiquette, and jargon.  TK’ers are idiots who run around shooting up their own teammates for fun.  133t (a term that loosely means LEET, or elite) is a common phrase you’ll hear from people who can’t keep their mouths shut.  N00bs or newbies are first-time players who often get killed a lot by seasoned veterans.  In reality, there isn’t much honor these days in multiplayer games.  People get shot in the back all the time, and often you’ll have to watch as your killer dances around your dead body while emptying clips into it.  If you want my advice, don’t do this.  It’s the sort of thing that spreads around and does nothing to improve the fun.