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Opinion: The joy of co-op

Or why Versus is so over

A good clean (or even better splattery) headshot. It's one of gaming life's simpler pleasures and a remarkably constant one. It's nearly as old as the first-person shooter itself, yet remains as meaty and satisfying as ever: when you land one it's always props and salutations to the headshotter; shame and humiliation for the headshotee.

It's ten years since the Unreal Tournament's announcer gave you that mighty 'headshot!' accolade and the earliest anyone in the office can remember headshots appearing in anything noteworthy is 1997's GoldenEye, though it's probably to be found in some games before that (if you can remember any, please let us know via the comments field, there's a whole pint riding on it) .

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The Cyberdemon: the first great co-op boss

Either way it's safe to say it's over a decade since we first sampled the delights of location-based damage and its attendant joys and ecstasies. Yet but I have to confess that recently, the joy of headshots in particular and adversarial gaming in general, have finally started to fade.

Partly it's a function of age. Too much beer, slowing hand-eye, dad-rage at the online kids and their unimaginative swears, hands that begin to cramp and eyesight that's slowly dimming, ('boo-frigging-hoo get on with it' I hear you mutter). And it's also true that it's not something that like a fine wine improves with age: the headshots I manage to land nowadays are more of a rarity that the norm they use to be.

Yet the truth is I just can't seem to summon the excitement and enthusiasm I once had for shooting other people in the face - so has my gaming mojo finally departed? Well the answer is no: the reactions may be fading but the gaming light still sputters undimmed, it's just I've just found a new outlet for my (virtual) homicidal tendencies and for me, nowadays, it's all about the co-op.

Teaming up with mates rather than a set of Randoms, working together to achieve a common goal, sharing each others triumphs, spectacular failures and achievements (and Achievements), it's simply that I get a lot more out of co-op gaming nowadays than I do out of anything remotely adversarial. Dare I say it: it's the constructive rather than the destructive that appeals to me (I'm sure that bleeding liberal heart is in the post).

And to be fair over this past year and a bit, I've also been spectacularly well served with titles to indulge myself, with everything from Horde mode in Gears 2, to Firefight in Halo ODST and Modern Warfare 2's Spec Ops - plus the daddy of modern co-op Left 4 Dead 1&2, suggesting that developers are fully embracing the power of co-op.

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Co-op-tacular: Modern Warfare 2's Spec ops

In fact it reminds me of the time many moons ago in my hallowed gaming youth when we used to lug four PCs around to one of my mates houses, spend a couple of hours fiddling with the network settings, then before pulling a 24-hour gaming all-nighter shooting rockets into Cyberdemon's faces. The co-op wheel appears to have turned full circle.

Agree? Disagree? Is co-op gaming the way forward or will you never tire of shooting people in the face? Let us know what you think in the comments field below.

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