Multiplayer gaming on mobile is an area that’s been slowly growing in popularity.
Having the ability to link up and play friends over the internet via a mobile device was, ironically for a communications device, a rarity until recently, but a growing number of modern releases now have the necessary wherewithal built-in at launch.
There’s still the common problem of under-populated servers to contend with, an issue that all platforms - mobile or not - run into over the course of a game’s lifespan.
But if you have a few Android gaming friends handy, here are our suggestions for the first ten multiplayer games you should all be playing.
Prices and links correct at time of publication, but are naturally subject to change.
I've linked to other locations if they sell the game internationally and at a cheaper rate than the Market.
Modern Combat 2 (Gameloft) - £3 from Gameloft Web Store
You can’t get much better an Android online FPS experience than Modern Combat 2 right now.
While the single-player game is an exciting string of set-pieces and shoot-outs in the style of Call of Duty, the multiplayer is basically a complete pilfering of that game’s features - experience levels, modes, and all.
Considering that game is still the most popular online shooter available on consoles, that’s not such a bad thing when you think about it.
Starfront: Collision HD (Gameloft) - £3 from Gameloft Web Store
There are several Gameloft titles in this list of worthy multiplayer Android games, but the newest is arguably the most impressive of the lot.
Starfront is a fully-featured StarCraft clone that comes with three distinct races, three lengthy campaigns, and a full, no-holds barred four-player multiplayer mode over Gameloft Live!
You can play this either in a team of two (against two) or one vs one, and while there are some seriously good players already plying their trade online, it’s well worth checking out if you’re a real-time strategy fan.
Guerrilla Bob (Angry Mob Games) - £1.84 from Android Market
Despite the divide my Android legion put up in Pocket Gamer Towers to stop the iOS gamers (whom we like to call ‘the infected’) from popping over and moving our desks around while we’re out the office, we grudgingly admit that we are somewhat envious of that platform’s range of multiplayer games.
Guerrilla Bob manages to kill two birds with one stone in that it’s a solid and enjoyable Android game that can play cross-platform with Apple fans’ devices.
Since our original review, Angry Mob Games has updated the game to include proper twin-stick controls (and a special Xperia Play version) so it’s well worth checking out if you, too, are surrounded by Apple devotees.
Dungeon Defenders: First Wave (Trendy Entertainment) - Free from Android Market
Although a little too complex for its own good when it comes to touchscreen play, when you’ve got three friends helping out with a level’s defences then Dungeon Defenders really comes into its own.
The game boasts support for up to four people playing co-operatively, Player vs Player match-ups, and a very appealing price-tag (it’s free).
The only stumbling block for Dungeon Defenders is if you don’t like the idea of blending a tower defence, RPG, and action game together.
But the eye-catching graphics and constant stream of tempting loot may win you over regardless of your genre-phobia.
Dungeon Hunter 2 (Gameloft) - £3 from Gameloft Web Store
If Dungeon Defenders’s tower defence leanings aren’t to your liking, then maybe the annoyingly addictive Diablo clone Dungeon Hunter 2 will be more up your street?
Dungeon Hunter is a genuinely well-tuned loot-whoring action-RPG that will have you going to sleep thinking about levels and XP, rather than work and deadlines.
The multiplayer mode is what the game’s all about - four players teaming up to bash and loot the hell out of randomly created 3D dungeons. You can’t get better than that.
Reckless Racing (Polarbit) - £3.07 from Android Market
Racing aficionados are spoilt for choice when it comes to Android games to choose from, but no other titles come close to rivaling Reckless Racing in the multiplayer stakes.
The combination of skill-based driving and quick races means its tricky to get out of the dreaded ‘multiplayer loop’ once the game has its tyres tracks into you.
It’s just as well, as the single-player is a little on the short side compared to others in the genre.
However, the excellent handling, beautiful graphics, and vindictive, dirty racing that ensues online should easily keep you and your friends occupied for far longer.
Pocket Legends (Spacetime Studios) - Free from Android Market
Some games flourish on iOS while others find a natural home on Android. Pocket Legends is most certainly of the latter kind.
This free to download MMORPG has exploded in popularity on Android, which means both that Android users have good taste and that you’re sure to find a party to go out adventuring with.
With Order & Chaos lurking in the wings, the playerbase is sure to be tested in the coming months, but those with a hankering for stats, griding, and loot-hoarding will be hard-pressed to find a better MMO on Android than Pocket Legends right now.
MiniSquadron Special Edition (Gray Fin Studios) - £1.84 from Android Market
It may look like another of those throwaway casual games, but MiniSquadron’s perfectly balanced handling and arcade combat is a darn sight better than the majority of offerings on the Android Market.
While there’s no online multiplayer, the local wireless option is more than enough to complement the superb single-player game, with up to two pilots taking to the skies in their own unlocked craft to shoot the living daylights out of each other in an aerial dual.
Uniwar (TBS Games) - £3.07 from Android Market
Turn-based strategy games don’t sound like the ideal bedfellows with Miss Online Multiplayer, but once you give Uniwar a go you may find yourself questioning your beliefs.
There’s a shedload of single-player missions to blast through to get you up to speed with handling the 27 different units on offer, but once you’ve got your bearings you can play up to 20 games at once against armchair generals from around the world.
The graphics look a little simple nowadays, the game having been around for a number of years now on mobile devices, but don’t let looks deceive you - Uniwar is still a fantastic multiplayer strategy game.
Galcon (Hassey Enterprises) - £1.23 from Android Market
If the turn-based nature of Uniwar is too slow and Starfront too fiddly, how about a lightning fast shot of strategy via Galcon, instead?
Playing like a game of Risk without the dice or the turns, Galcon is as much about your reactions and ability to think on your feet as it is about grand plans of interstellar conquest.
Gamers who prefer to build up forces and ‘tank rush’ will find the unrelenting pace and frequency of enemy raiding parties a shock to the system, but for those that want a bit more fizz in their strategy pop should definitely check it out
If you have your own particular multiplayer favourite you want to share with the Android community, feel free to post your suggestions in the comments thread below.