On Thursdays Game Rant typically holds a weekly multiplayer event where we all back away from the keyboards, pick up the controllers and play games rather than writing about them for a few hours. Typically this is harder to pull off than it sounds, so we'll take a small group of players and try some Halo, Gears of War 2, Crackdown 2 or if we have more people Modern Warfare 2. It's never especially competitive, but we manage to have fun and make waves on occasion.
This week, everything went quite awry. I formed up a party on Xbox Live including my esteemed colleagues Riley Little, Joshua Harris, Jason Weissman, and Steven Pendlebury, and we decided to try a little Red Dead Redemption action. Both Riley and Josh had a bit of experience in RDR multiplayer, but the rest of us, well, let's just say we prefer Red Dead's story mode. So we spun the guns, shot each other's horses in free roam for a bit and then threw our posse into Rockstar's tumultuous matchmaking service for some team vs. team action.
It all went downhill from here.
In our first matches we were lucky to pass beyond a single kill. I still can't explain how outrageously outmatched we were. Sure, the combat might be as simple as auto-target and fire, but even that couldn't stop the opposing team from popping our cowboy hats off at will. Our enemies would seemingly wander about, riddled with our bullets, sniping with revolvers (or shotguns in some cases), only to finally fall due to friendly fire. Our efforts, it became painfully obvious, were null.
Seriously, in those early game I believe my best match involved my hefty Hispanic character parading down the middle of the street, leaping and rolling like a court jester. His brief invulnerability simply a result of our opponents uncontrolled laughter. That laughter, I'll hear it in my nightmares. "Dance! Dance!" they'll shout, blindly firing their pistols into the air.
Eventually, the prevailing strategies became apparent. Stay in cover until a worse player wandered past you, then shoot him in the back. Or alternatively, hide the entire gang in the basement of the mansion. Very safe, very secure, those old mansions are, at least until friendly fire occurs. At which point you're better off leaving quickly before Riley's "justice" (read: wrath) finds you.
It would be simple to dismiss the multiplayer as a sham, as a poor man's solution to a lonely weekend, and certainly I know a few of us won't be playing the mode again. Still, there's still something to keep in mind. No matter how unbearable the multiplayer was, even with Riley's constant taunts and interjections, even though covering your teammates back never seemed to help; even without all the negatives...
... this weekend is DOUBLE XP FREE WEEKEND! Woo! Break out the Red Dead Redemption boys and girls!