Can Blur Bring Split Screen Back?

In the five years I have been covering video games professionally there's one thing a video game company had never asked me to do until Activision did last week: Play their new game in four-player split screen.

We might as well have been back in 1997 playing GoldenEye or something at Activision's PAX-week event in Seattle last week.

Twenty-first-century gaming publicity events just don't involve four-player split screen matches of anything. Companies prefer to link TVs together to allow multi-screen multiplayer. Or they network the console on which they are showing a game to an online match linked back to the game's development studio or testing team.

I was stunned, then, when an Activision representative actually invited me to step out of the company's game-filled party and into another demo room to try Blur's four-player split screen.

It's notable that Blur even has four-player split screen to offer. What once was common is now rare. This month's high-end EA racer, Need For Speed Shift, doesn't have split screen, nor did that publisher's 2008 aggressively online-focused racing game Burnout Paradise. Next month's Forza 3 has only two-player split screen.

We live in an age of online multiplayer. Screens just don't get split as much as they used to, not for racing games, among other genres. Some might argue that online multiplayer is superior. It gives each player a full screen's view. It causes no one to squint.

At the Seattle event, four-player split screen didn't feel like a superior option when I went up to hotel suite where a big TV was waiting. Only three of us were in the room: Me and two Activision employees. We considered asking the guy who came in to re-stock the hotel bar to join as Player 4, before deciding to call for a fourth, summoning them up from the party downstairs where Blur was being played over a two-TV LAN connection. Then Joystiq showed up. They'd do.

Blur has other attributes Activision and Bizarre are probably more interested in reporters discussing: The game's social-networking-influenced campaign; its Mario Kart style power-ups; and other details we've covered.

But this four-player split screen multiplayer mode? What's old is novel again. We had fun, even if this isn't the cool way anymore.


Comments

    God I'm so sick of no split screen in games, god only knows how many 2 player co-op games I've been pumped for only to find out that it's online only multiplayer.

    I live in a house with two other gamers, why the hell can't I play games with them?

      Exactly.

      This is where Halo succeeds and Call of Duty fails.

      Now World at War is good cause you can play Nazi Zombies with more than one on screen. The most i've done is 2, so i don't know if 4 player split-screen is possible. But it still isn't on online multiplayer & COD4 definitely has no relations to anything co-op.

      From what i've heard, Modern Warfare 2 hasn't got 2-4 online co-op like Halo 3 does either. It sucks. It's possible, it's not hard. Especially with the time and money they have had to make this game.

      Playing COD is like being in the 90's really. Your mate watches you play a game, then you watch him play a game. Back & forth and it SUCKS! Get with it developers.

      As much as i like COD, (and i don't play much of Halo), Halo will always be superior in online multiplayer. It has that whole package that everyone wants.

    Split screen is still commonplace for me and my mates. Many forget that with HD, the clarity of a split screen isn't anywhere near as bad as it was.

    But they all make less money from Split Screen... With network play they can sting you for access (Hello Microsoft) and 2 copies of the game and 2 copies of any downloadable content etc etc etc.
    With split screen you only need 1 copy of the game..
    (and a projector... like I have :-) )

      I have seen this trend since I brought a PS3, no co-op per console, no split screen multi player.

      Its made me fully regret buying the most powerful console, as its just a week PC. Considering selling the PS3 now.

      I pre-ordered NFS Shift, after one day I took it back due to it being single player. Burnout is sounding more interesting as its split-screen.

      My mates and I will not buy PS3 games unless they have single console multi player (full stop). Be it split-screen or some form of two or more players playing at once on the once console.

      I hope others join this protest, as we could just be playing these games on PC for much cheaper, console is for groups of people playing together.

      Only way to get across that single player games on Consoles SUCK, don't buy them.

      I have also given into the wide wanting a Wii, not a fan but actually starting to like it more then piss weak PC/anti split-screen... cant play with friend, loner PS3.

      I miss the days Consoles were there for friends and family to sit around and shoot each other, race against each other and play co-op with each other.

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