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Today's worst multiplayer experiences

There are probably more people playing Counter-Strike right now than any of the modes listed here. The original, not Source. These desolate remnants of big development dreams are now nothing but box art bullet points and wads of wasted development money. And even when they’re done well there’s a strong chance they’ll peter out after a few months – so why do so many developers and publishers feel obligated to include competitive multiplayer? Really, we don’t mind single player experiences. REALLY. Time to prove our point with words and pictures, because those are always right.

Above: Will it last?

We made it into a game in a surprisingly quick five minutes. The first session we entered sat idle for a couple minutes before closing. The second actually began, with a stunning two other players. Lots of loading later, we were fighting the wobbly controls and the layer of Crisco on every surface.

Above: The best part about Stranglehold’s multiplayer is this guy’s face

So we dove and slid and ran around spamming our dual pistols like our ammo would never run out (which it didn’t), but didn’t manage a kill despite popping six or seven holes in one of our likewise circle-spinning opponents. About thirty seconds into the game, we were sniped in the head, and about five seconds after we respawned, the scoreboard appeared and wouldn’t go away. There was no indication that the game had ended, or what to press to continue, just the scoreboard and the option to quit. So we quit.

Number of tequila shots it would take to make this game fun: Alcohol poisoning.

Ten minutes… no game sessions found! Ten more minutes… failed to join session! Ten more minutes, with our own game lobby open… empty. Over half an hour later, we’re finally into a session, and the actually clever “Fragile Alliance” match begins.

Above: First you see this

Above: Then probably this a few times

Above: Then a bit of this, just for good measure

The goal of the game is to work as a team to rob a bank and secure as much money as possible whilst combating the police. You split your share with whomever you end the game with… unless you kill one of your comrades and become a traitor. Returning the favor and killing a traitor, however, earns alliance members a reward. If you die, you respawn as a police officer. It’s a cool dynamic… if it works.

It doesn’t really. The characters control like sinking motorboats, the heist is a chaotic dash and grab, and the decision to become a traitor seems completely random. While theoretically the idea is to kill an alliance member with loads of cash to take for yourself, we got killed right off the bat, without even a chance to steal any money. So we respawned as a police officer, walked into the bank, and were killed again. Now maybe we’re just bad at the game, it was our first time, but we were displeased at having to wait and spectate while the rest of the players finished the round, especially considering how long it took us to get into a session in the first place.

Above: Here we are about to take it from behind by a fellow player as we sprint for the cash

We tried to get into another session for some practice, but after sitting in a lobby with two other players, one less than required to start, for about twenty minutes, we gave up. Maybe it’s fun with friends, but who has three friends itching to jump into some K&L?

Number of banks you could actually rob while waiting for a match to start: One or two, assuming you’re capable of basic motor control, unlike either Kane or Lynch.

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer