With the release of EA's two-player co-operative shoot fest Army of Two: The 40th Day right around the corner, we thought we'd indulge in a bit of co-op action ourselves (no, not like that). The result? The Top 10 Co-op Games of all Time. If you're after a video game to play with your mate, whether it's on the couch or online, then we've got you covered. Now, who's got our six?
10. Resident Evil 5 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Resi 5 might have divided long-term fans of the franchise, and indeed action gamers in general, but there's one thing upon which we can all agree: it worked brilliantly in co-op. When played alone, the delectable Sheva largely acts as an unusually attractive donkey. AI Sheva has no concept of ammo conservation, so most players just give her a cattle prod and force her to carry all their unloaded weapons. But when she's being controlled by a human being, ideally a good friend, the game suddenly takes on a new dimension. The level designs reveal a new layer of subtlety, and before you know it you'll be using proper two-man tactics. And as an added bonus, you're spared the tedium of Chris Redfield shouting "Sheva! Sheva! SHEVA!" over and over and over again.
9. Halo 3: ODST - Xbox 360
The Halo series has always been pretty good for co-op banter, but the recent ODST arguably represents the best effort so far in terms of sociable gaming. In addition to full co-op support for the campaign, there's also Firefight mode - a wave-based challenge that more or less squeezes Gears of War 2's Horde mode into the classic Master Chief mould - even if the man himself is nowhere to be found. We might have seen Firefight's basic structure before, but there's still something highly addictive about the way the difficulty slowly ramps up, making life increasingly painful for your hard-bitten shock troopers.
8. LittleBigPlanet - PS3
Shock horror: LittleBigPlanet occupies a spot on this list, but New Super Mario Wii doesn't. Why? Because, to put it simply, LBP works better with four people playing at once. While New Super Mario Bros. Wii focuses on hardcore platforming high jinks, LittleBigPlanet is all about fun. Aside from all the user-generated content and online community gubbins, the basic gameplay is tailor-made for a good time. Whether you're fooling around with the latest toy you've discovered online, or simply attempting to throw a chum off the nearest ledge, there's a special kind of free-form chaos at work here - one that you'll struggle to find elsewhere.
7. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga - Multi
There's more fun to be had in a ten-minute stint on Lego Star Wars than there is to be found in the whole of George Lucas' prequel trilogy. On first appearance, the Lego action games appear to be aimed at kids, but their real beauty lies with the fact that anyone can pick up and play them. The drop in/drop out mechanic makes it a piece of pie to join your friends/relatives/random home invaders, and thanks to the fact that both players have infinite lives, messing about is positively encouraged. Throw in a charming art style and a wry sense of humour, and the end result is a game where fun is all but unavoidable. All the Lego games are worth playing, but we reckon Star Wars: The Complete Saga is the pick of the bunch.
6. Borderlands - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
As this list makes clear, first-person shooters and co-op go together like fish and chips. Borderlands serves up what feels like a remarkably fresh spin on this classic combo, largely due to its odd mix of RPG and action-shooter qualities. It's a class-based game with massive maps to explore and heaps of quests to take on, yet the story is all but window-dressing. You soon realise that Gearbox has essentially given us a 21st century update of Gauntlet - and like that game, Borderlands really comes to life when played with mates. The action is satisfyingly meaty, there are literally millions of guns to find and use, and if you play as Brick there's even the option to uppercut a midget's head off. Good times.
5. The Beatles: Rock Band - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
We always struggle when it comes to including rock-rhythm games in articles like these, because in all honesty there's very little to separate the Rock Band and Guitar Hero brands. Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero 5 could both take this spot, but today we're favouring The Beatles: Rock Band. After all, this is the only strum-em-up that lets you play as the Fab Four. The presentation has buckets of style and a deep understanding of the band, and naturally the music is fantastic. And, as always, the timing-based gameplay is hugely rewarding - particularly when four of you hit your stride in unison.
4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
If MW2 were a child in school, it'd be that irritating kid that does well at everything. A blockbuster single-player campaign? Check. Multiplayer deathmatch action that will last you for months? Oh yes. And naturally enough, we also have Spec Ops mode - a tight little selection of 23 missions that allow you to take down Tangos with the help of a buddy, taking part in everything from snow mobile races to a fraught battle inside a thinly-veiled TGI Fridays. And with the addition of time limits, combo-based score systems and super-hard juggernaut enemies, Spec Ops manages to update the classic CoD gameplay with a competitive arcade-like glaze. Well done Infinity Ward. Again.
3. Gears of War 2 - Xbox 360
Aside from popularising the now-omnipresent concept of the cover system, the original Gears of War can be credited with sparking a fresh interest in co-op third person shooting. Gears 2 may not have given us the four-player campaign we'd been crossing our fingers for, but it did give us Horde mode - a multiplayer offering so successful that it's been lovingly copied (or blatantly ripped off) by several imitators. It's a simple formula - you, four chums, and wave after wave of deadly Locust - but when you're caught up in the middle of it all, with bullets flying, chainsaws roaring and gloopy liquids splattering all over the screen, you know you're playing one of the finest action experiences money can buy.
2. World of Warcraft - PC
What is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game if not the biggest kind of co-operative game? And what is Blizzard's World of Warcraft, if not the best MMORPG? Some of WoW's best moments are found when guilds get together to raid dungeons, working their way through powerful computer-controlled demons and terrifying dragons. Up to 40 players can co-operate in this way, some at the front line absorbing damage, some doing damage from a distance, others supporting with heals and buffs. Fights against the more powerful enemies can be immensely challenging, but the rewards can be glorious. It's all about the shiny loot; the new sword, the new helm, the new staff of oblivion + 5 million to dexterity. And it's all about kudos - players gather in virtual cities to show off their new wares as a child would new Christmas clothes. Co-op at its most absorbing.
1. Left 4 Dead 2 - Xbox 360, PC
It's good to have friends who you can trust to watch your back - and this is never truer than when you're trapped in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Of course, one of the great things about Left 4 Dead is that you never really know how your fellow survivors will behave. If you "accidentally" shoot your chums too many times, or if you get too greedy with the ultra-rare medikits, you may just find that no-one comes to your aid when you inevitably succumb to the undead horde. The original Left 4 Dead gets credit for inventing the concept (and a whole new flavour of co-op fun), but here we've chosen to salute its superb successor. It's harder, more varied, and it throws in the excellent Scavenge game mode - a team-based offering that further tests your ability to work with others.