Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Something wicked this way comes...

E3 2010 is over. I paid about as much attention to it as I usually do, mainly seeing it as a medium for various technology and games related companies to advertise their mediocre, unoriginal and sometimes terrible products as revolutionary and innovative. While some bits of media did hold my attention to higher than usual degrees, some seemed a little lacklustre and not very well thought out (e.g. Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect campaigns).


Certain games have piqued my interest however and are making me think ahead about what I will be doing/playing a year from now. I will be upgrading my PC when Crysis 2 hits shelves, being the benchmark game for the next generation of gaming, but what components should I be looking at? I have recently revisited both GRID and Crysis (the original) on my PC which both ran slightly worse in Windows 7 than they did in XP 2-3 years ago. This makes me think about the performance differences DX11 could have and the graphical horsepower I will need to run games smoothly on a modern OS. Memory wise, 4GBs will be the bare minimum and with at least decent DDR3 speeds and clock rates (all unknown at this point). Quad core or Dual core? Should I try a SLI/Crossfire setup?

These questions all bare a familiarity to me when I made my gaming PC over 3 years ago, a machine that has lasted me to this point (and admittedly still works fine). It will undoubtedly take me into a fourth year (at which point I will retire it), however the hours of research, benchmarks, comparisons and opinions will inevitably take place several months from now. It should be something I look forward to, but at this point in time I see it little more as a bump in the road towards playing more games that do not truly satisfy my gaming needs.

The truth is, although I look forward to certain titles, part of me knows they will just end up on the shelf to my right, collecting dust alongside so many others. They will entertain me for maybe a week or two, some maybe a month, but they will never be what Unreal Tournament, Half-life, Quake 3, Total Annihilation and Red Alert were back in the day. The problem is I know exactly why...

There are too many games. For someone like me with a genuine interest in so many types and genres and the technologies used to create and run them, these games do not hold my interest for any great length of time. I am never 'stuck' with them like I used to be back in the day. There is also the fact that the vast majority of these games are not actually anything new. Oh they may offer some fancy new weapons or gameplay mechanic for killing your foes, but really, when every game does it, it kind of becomes expected lest it fade away amongst the flow of similarly done games.

There is also the fact that many of these games, particularly First Person Shooters, are evolving gameplay features that eventually become hybrids of each other. The 'ironsights' evolution is a classic example. Why does every FPS game need to have ironsights? Aiming a real gun (which I have performed countless times) is so incredibly different then what is portrayed in games it is almost laughable. Especially when using a scope. Unless you are a cyclops, aiming down a rifle in a game does not look or behave anything like it does in reality. So why attempt to emulate this feature again and again? Why burden an already slowing down genre (in terms of game speed) to badly portray this need to aim a rifle like a 'real soldier'?

Cover systems are another thing. It kind of started with the original Gears of War, but it is hard to place with so many other games borrowing the idea. This need to point out, focus and lock players into a messy system of hiding behind conveniently placed chest high walls and peek-a-boo corners is revolting. What happened to simply pressing crouch or even having lean buttons, or better yet, making a player's character actually move fast enough so their pudgy ass doesn't get blown off every time its hanging around a corner? Needing to press a button to sit behind a wall and then behave differently (take less damage, never die, cannot be seen etc) is incredibly unrealistic and something that should be abolished.

To an extent I do know the reason behind these control nerfs that are now seen as 'features' in the industry. Console gaming. But I won't bring up that point again, at least not in this post...

Nevertheless, I will end this post off on a good note. Although I think Rage, Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm will be both less appealing and successful than their respective companies previous franchises/titles, there is still hope for the genre of fighting games and RTS. Mortal Kombat is coming back and looking as gory as ever, and MvC3 is definitely something worth looking forward too. RUSE is also looking quite promising and should add a new take to an aging RTS scene.

Sooner or later, time will tell ...

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