Xbox Live is currently inaccessible to a "small subset" of Virgin Media subscribers. If you're among those thus deprived of a multiplayer fix, your options are twofold. Firstly, you can seize your broadband router with your teeth and shake it around like a piece of freshly-killed meat, snorting impotently for justice. Or you can shrug your shoulders, take it on the chin and turn your attention to that older species of party experience, the local multiplayer game.
There are the obvious choices, like Gears of War 3, Halo: Reach and Borderlands 2, but why not take the opportunity to check out some of history's less-trumpeted multiplayer gems? We've rounded up ten for your consideration - including, for reasons of great and enduring stupidity, a few Xbox Live Arcade titles. Look, just assume you've downloaded them already and have been meaning to give them a try. Onward.
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
The campaign might be a fairly tepid attempt to redo the N64 classic as a Call of Duty style corridor, but the multiplayer has charm. There are 13 modes to enjoy on 14 maps, and while four-player splitscreen bites into the frame rate fairly noticeably, Reloaded is still one of the most robust local competitive options on Xbox 360. There are tonnes of trinkets to unlock, including iconic Bond weapons like the Moonraker laser and Modern-Warfare-style perks.
The latest Rayman might be the most joyful platformer ever released - and it's even more entertaining in company, thanks to overblown melee knockback and character models that bounce and wobble like benevolent water balloons. When somebody dies, he or she'll swell into a bubble which other characters can puncture, restoring the KO'd player to action. Multiple route level design leaves much to discover, and there's a hearty whack of good old fashioned point-scoring rivalry to ensure that everybody takes it just seriously enough.
Tales of Vesperia
Believe it or not, this much-loved classic JRPG has a sneaky multiplayer component - when you do battle, other players can take control of supporting characters. Worth trying for the novelty, though we suspect you'll have a hard time convincing friends to sit through dozens of hours of stat-massaging and exposition.
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon
"No-frills co-op gaming at its best" was how OXM's foremost giant ant exterminator Matt Lees described Insect Armageddon last July, and with four different classes to upgrade and 30-40 hours worth of Achievement hunting in store, it's hard to disagree. There's only room for two player splitscreen, alas, but there are a lot more buildings to blow up than in the first EDF, so we'll call it a victory.
Dungeons are supposed to be deeply unpleasant - think buckets of bodily waste, spikes and rats. The dungeons you'll defend in Dungeon Defenders, by contrast, are an intensely picturesque soup of magical pyrotechnics. Worth defending, then. Our US comrades called this mixture of tower building and real-time goblin bashing "one of the most exciting... habit-forming co-op experiences on Live Arcade".