Sunday, January 5, 2014

Not Buying The Hype On Next-Gen Gaming

Happy New Year.  As you may have guessed, video games in 2014 are off to a great start.  Here's what I have to say about all the new titles.

It's time for the anti-video game circlejerk!  Now I'm pretty sure everyone's seen this PS4 commercial before but here it is anyway:

This commercial is beyond cheesy and pisses me off.  Two dudebros playing their mainstream games together.  But after a while, I noticed there is more to this commercial than meets the eye.  Two things:

1. These are the same kind of games we've seen a thousand times.  Hack-and-slash medieval/fantasy game.  Racing sim.  Gritty futuristic FPS.  Originality at its finest.
2. They all involve killing people and/or destroying things.  Think about that for a sec.  Two games involve outright killing people.  The third isn't really about violence but you're encouraged to smash things to bits.  Hence for no reason at all, one dudebro rams the other into the wall, sending him into a slow-mo Burnout/Split-Second wreck.  Games thrive off of destruction/death way too much these days.

Neither of these consoles impress me.  Sure, the Xbone was one massive skidmark that MS went back and corrected but I still have disdain for because MS tried to take us for fools and I don't forget that easily.  There's also the PS4, but I'm only marginally interested it compared to the Xbone.  Sony is still trying to smuggle DRM policies into their console like Microsoft did, just a lot more covert.  Both of these consoles are vanity goods that you really don't need.  Need top-end graphics?  Get a gaming PC.  Need a wealth of new titles?  Errrm, we already had seven years of Xbox 360/PS3 games.  If you've played all of those, then you need to go outside.  Need a console that changes the channel when you tell it to?  Well, that's not a need, that's just stupid.  Come back in 2030 when everything is made out of chrome and holograms.  You know what I'm getting at here cause I already talked about it before.  I think a year or two down the road, when they fix all the bricked consoles, the price goes down, and the library grows (including a new Sega racer, fat chance...) I might invest in one but until then, screw you both.

Anyhoo, you may be surprised to find out that my family is in possession of TWO Xbox Ones.  Yes, one Xbone, two Xbones.  They were Christmas presents for two of my brothers.  It's a load of crap, I know.  We own one game at the moment--Dead Rising 3.  I watched my brother play it for about an hour.  All I have to say is I just don't really care.   The game takes place in a fictional Los Angeles, a zombie outbreak happens, and you play as some mechanic dude who turns into a macho badass.  I didn't need a plot or anything, just as long as I get to kill zombies and rescue survivors.  Off the bat, I recognize the improvement in graphics.  Great, but it wasn't as shocking of a transition as, say, Super Nintendo to Nintendo 64.  It's just the same games as before but with a slight layer of polish.

Maps of Dead Rising 1 (upper-left), Dead Rising 2 (lower-left), and Dead Rising 3 (right)

The map is bigger this time around with huge streets for driving cars.  But the problem is the environment looks so piss bland I find nothing recognizable about it whatsoever.  Sure, they put a huge emphasis on cars now but it's hard to drive anywhere without plowing over zombies and getting stuck on debris.  If I wanted to free drive around, I'd probably play Grand Theft Auto.  If I wanted to kill zombies in cool locations, I'd probably play Dead Rising 1 or 2.  Just my two cents, you enjoy the game, great for you.  If you were a Dead Rising/zombie aficionado then yeah, you'll like this just cause it gives you more stuff to kill.  Otherwise, it's really a placebo game designed to sell the Xbone, as you can tell cause the game is exlusive to that console.  It's crap cause Dead Rising 2 was available for PS3 but whatever man...Capcom and Microsoft can fudge up the game however they like so I'm not losing sleep over it.  

My brother was playing Spiderman 2 on the Gamecube, got DR3 on Christmas, beat the game in a week, and went back to Spiderman 2.  Don't think he's touched his Xbone yet since.  True story bro.

Another thing I should mention, going back to the paragraph before the previous one, is that these games don't really do anything "new" for me.  Sure, the graphics are better, there's more zombies, and they ditched the load times (sorta, you still get them when fighting psychopaths), but other than that, the gameplay STILL feels the same as games from 5-10 years ago.  Your special weapon attacks still kill zombies in that canned animation sequence.  Quick-time events.  Predictable trigger-based   Psychopaths run back and forth trading blows with you until you smack them enough times and they die.  Friendly AI is not very smart.  The thing that surprised me the most was seeing your character climb out the windshield of the wrecked car.  With new consoles bragging about "new ways to play the game," it certainly doesn't feel like it.  But as long as they keep the games running at constant 60 FPS, then I'll give them a modicum of credit for that.

As for other launch titles, all fifteen of them, you got Zoo Tycoon.  Yes, Zoo Tycoon is a launch title.  Killer Instinct is lacking in the content department.  Ryse looks pretty but it's a redundant hack & slash that'll go the way of King Kong and Eragon--such pretty launch titles but with bland gameplay.  Call of Duty, Madden, FIFA are what you expect--same game but prettier.  NBA Live 14, which was EA's response to the shit-canned NBA Elite, is a total embarassment.  Forza is a mess because the game is loaded with microtransactions like a Facebook game.  And Need for Speed's frivolous online gameplay has up to six players (that's right...SIX PLAYERS MAX, an abysmal number for an online racing game) zipping across the map far away from each other as everyone does their own thing to progress their respective campaign/story modes.  In other words, crap, crap, mega crap.

Give the consoles a few years to gel and the games should get better.  After all, the first Xbox 360 games looked like Xbox titles.  That's all well and good much bigger can these games get before they collapse under the weight of their own production costs?  Models and worlds get more detailed, stories expand, gameplay branches rapidly, advertising money and review payola, etc.  Sure, we have tools to accelerate these things but the point is we're spending more and more money to make these games.  Remember that GTA5 required over a thousand people to make it.  Tools can't speed up the creative process much--you still need producers to sit down and think these things up.  We're outsourcing our art overseas now which I guess helps with the overhead but sucks for my art friends out there.  So expect less risk taking more and more DLC/microtransactions to milk the consumer's wallet for what it's worth.  The corporations need their money!

EDIT: A little aside, basically Kotaku posts an article about the worthless piece of crap that is the Kinect and how they are "a little it worried about it," citing how much it sucks that you're forced to buy a lackluster piece of hardware with your Xbone.  Nope, no one saw that coming, complaints about the Kinect 2.0, why who would say such a thing???  Also, I saw Madden 25 up-close and aside from the beatdown my friend put on my brother, I wasn't impressed by what I saw.

As for PS4 games, there's Gran Turismo 6.  Which is basically GT so nothing surprising like that.  Except for one feature--you can drive on the moon.  At 19 miles per hour.  I honestly don't know whether to think this is the most awesome or most useless thing in racing game history.

Compare to this gem of a racing game:

I think gaming isn't going to crash because it's so insanely popular, like today's terrible pop music.  But I've never been this jaded before about gaming in my life that I think SOMETHING has to blow up before I can get excited about these games again.  I'm done here, enjoy the hot air I'm emitted into the atmosphere.

P.S. There's no Ridge Racer launch title.  Whoops, someone tell Namco they planned their release one year late.  AWWWWWW.....


  1. Hey Eric hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Nice read....not interested at present in PS4 or XBOX ONE or even XBOX 360 or PS3 for that matter! Just concentrating on my retro stuff at the moment - crazy how many games I've got but never played! Last thing I completed was XIII on the original XBOX a month ago!

    Sadly my life as an coin-op arcade racer is over :( Sega & Namco are keeping their good stuff away from Europe so there's nothing worth visiting arcades to play anymore. It's now just Raw Thrills and redemption machines! Maybe they can make a coin-op version of The 90's Racer?

    PS Do you realise we are within the 10th Anniversary of Outrun 2?!

    1. Hey rjay, sucks to hear about your local arcades. I'm actually looking on Facebook at a couple new arcade racers from Sega Amusements but nothing that can compete with Daytona. They'll make a 90's Arcade Racer cabinet, like they did with OutRun 2 on the PC. I look forward to that! Also 10th anniversary to OR2, give us OR3 next, lol :)