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Best multiplayer design in an action game?

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I can''t deny it. Halo has got to be my all-time favorite game. It''s beautiful, it''s exciting, it''s got a fun story, but most importantly, you can play it with a friend! I can''t wait until it hits the PC this summer. Not even Unreal Tournament can keep me coming back as frequently as Halo, because Halo has a purpose. I''ve played a lot of multiplayer games, including but not limited to Diablo, Diablo II, Asheron''s Call, Everquest, Ultima Online, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Unreal, Unreal Tournament, D&D: Shadow Over Mystara, Hunter: The Reckoning, Half-life. . . geez, the list keeps on going. The games at the top of my "favorites" list just happen to be the ones that are story-driven. I cannot express how disappointed I was when I found out that Unreal 2 wasn''t going to ship with multiplayer support. It''s the mutliplayer aspects that makes me buy games, people! The reason I put "action game" in the subject is because that''s what I''m designing. I''ve been involved in game development for about six years, and I think it''s my turn to take the wheel and do something for myself and my friends (who are the people I play games with). This is just a hobby endeavor, but I take game design very seriously -- or else I wouldn''t be here, right? I''d like to know what you think is the best multiplayer action game and -- this is important -- why it''s your favorite. Doesn''t matter what system it''s for; odds are I can find a copy and check it out, or at least I can read some reviews online. I appreciate your feedback in this matter. I''m in the process of querying my friends for their opinions, but my mind is open to just about everyone. Thanks.

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Without a doubt, Counter Strike.

It is the one game that I always go back to. The reasons? Well, first it has to be the execution. The game implemented the design and concept so well.
1. Team-based gameplay where the team part really counts. Some team based games are more like a death-match with sides you can choose. Counter-Strike''s gameplay ensures that if you choose to play that way, you will soon find yourself dead. Team cooperation is a must, not a convenience or gimmick.
2. Attention to detail in the accuracy of the weapons (sounds, models, stats). I have fired many of the guns in the game and must say, I can recognize the gun by the sound in the game. And with a great sound system those loud gun-bursts make the experience so much better. Leave out the sound quality and something would seem lacking.
3. The variation of play styles that you can choose from and still contribute to the sucess of your team. Wether you like to rush, snipe, provide cover fire, provide recon, cause distractions, or any other sneaky activity to give your team an advantage you can learn to do it well and still be just as effective as someone who might play differently.
4. One of my pet peeves in a FPS game is where the winner of a shoot out is almost always who sees the other guys first. In counter strike, this can still occur, but it is the exception to the rule, not the standard. But Counter strike doesnt take it too far. You can still only take a few bullets before you are out of that match. I think this makes the shootouts that occur more like an actual shoot out might be (ducking for cover, looking out to take a shot, ducking back, etc...).

I could probably list a few more things, but those are the main points that popped up in my head. All these elements provide a game which allows many styles of game play to both be fun and effective. I am frequently suprised by watching a new person on my server using a tactic that never occured to me in the first place. This is a must for a game to have staying power in the market. Even with it''s (by todays standards) sub-par graphics, I still enjoy Counter Strike better than any other FPS out there.

Graphically, I really think the Serious Sam 2 Engine is just awesome. I love being able to fire a rocket at a hillside 5 miles aways, waiting about 3 minutes and then seeing it finally hit the hillside. That kind of draw distance (however they did it) is awesome.

Thats my 2 cents. To sum up:

1. Give the player an objective to complete, but leave how the player completes that objective up to the player. Freedom in gameplay.
2. Attention to detail in what ever you are trying to implement. I don''t mean realistic graphics either. Even in a cartoony world, attention detail might be having all the grass and trees sway with wind instead of statically just sitting there. That kind of attention to detail.

Hope that helps.

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