Welcome all to the fairly delayed relaunch of The Comic Commish: a monthly feature in which I pay for my Gold Membership with MS Paint doodles in the least equitable deal since the purchase of Manhattan. When I'm not biting the hand that feeds with ill-advised Native American jokes, I occasionally like to reflect on the roads less traveled. Like, the virtual roads. From video games. That I haven't played. Hence the "less tr-
I occasionally like to reflect on video games of former console generations that I never played, often taking advantage of value depreciation and what little time I have left until Quetzlcoatl remembers to check his calendar and gets on with that tardy apocalypse of his to sweep a few of them up while everyone's busy playing the brand new Assassin's Creed VII: I Read Somewhere That We Evolved From Marmosets, Sorta, So Now the Assassin's a Monkey. Well, turns out I've actually played quite a few more than I realized, so I figure I'm a position to help my good buddy @omghisam (who apparently only did worthwhile things during this time) and hopefully the readers at home with some suggestions from the past six or so years of game releases.
What this entails, then, is a monthly spate of comics on games that were released in a certain release window in the US during the currently-current-but-soon-to-be-previous generation of consoles. I'm covering January to June of 2007 for the month of October 2013 (this one) and hope to finish with the latter half of 2012 by September 2014. We'll all be knee deep in PS4 and XB1 releases (or, more realistically, still buying everything in Steam sales), but it's worth remembering the vast libraries of modern day classics we leave behind as our industry inexorably marches forward like one of the sixteen Colossi. (Shadow of the Colossus wasn't this generation by the way, so that's a red herring.)
The "Previous Generation" Subtitle Was a Star Trek Thing. Hope You All Got That.
Hotel Dusk's one of those visual novel adventure games with a few curious trademarks to call its own. The first is the striking rotoscoping work on all the characters, who animate and emote like the creepy 1950s mannequins of LA Noire only wish they could (oh, she was lying? I thought that expression meant she was discomfited by the giant dentist chair you locked her face in to mocap it). The second is its protagonist: Kyle Hyde, a down and out salesman who has been secretly chasing his disgraced partner ever since that one fateful night when Kyle was forced to shoot him and leave him for dead. Already, the game is steeped in noir tropes and dramatic pathos, but layers in a Phoenix Wright style absurd sense of humor that only manifests itself enough times as to not disrupt the game's carefully maintained somber edge. It's a classic whodunnit with twists and turns and red herrings and bourbon and well worth the time of anyone looking for a well-manufactured video game story.
Yes, I realise I'm already breaking a cardinal rule by covering a PS2 game, technically not part of the previous generation, but decent current gen games were still light on the ground around this time. We'll get to them, I promise. Rogue Galaxy had the unenviable position of following up Dark Cloud 2 and Dragon Quest VIII: two of the greatest and most expansive PS2 RPGs ever made. While it would fair to say that it doesn't quite meet the expectations set forward by its predecessors, it does at least have the benefit of having a novel setting (well, since there aren't many space JRPGs outside of Phantasy Star and Star Ocean) and Level-5's development team at their peak. While the story has you bouncing from planet to planet, making new friends and bringing down bounties that are causing the local populace trouble (which isn't a particularly original story progression path, I'll grant you), Level-5 is busy at work in the background establishing the numerous extra-curricular activities its games became known for after Dark Cloud, giving players a wide range of side-stuff to do should they ever grow weary of whichever dungeon they're in. It's also a game that features Deego, the buff mercenary boxer dog, so I can't in good conscience not recommend it.
I figure I should probably put one of those current gen console games in this current gen console remembrance feature somewhere, so here's Crackdown, one of the best early 360 games. Crackdown begat what might be known as "the superhero sandbox": a game that slowly weens you off the driving and gunplay you're used to towards superhuman leaping and explosive ground pounds. It felt like expanding the sandbox format in a whole new direction, rather than basic, unfulfilling incremental rewards like a little more world to explore or putting more weapons in your arsenal. Franchises that skirt the line, like the last two Saints Row games, have found that the payoff in building up the main character from a human to a demi-god is considerably more thrilling than a human who becomes a slightly richer human with a penthouse apartment. I've never seen the point of a good story in a sandbox game, since you spend so much time outside the main objectives and simply farting around the big playground seeing how it ticks, so despite all the gentle mockery about Crackdown being a glorified orb hunting game, it really set one of the most important precedents in open world games today. Just don't play the sequel.
The Other Ones!
Well, I have the list, but the site won't let me embed it. Whoop-de-doo. Writing blogs on GB is so much fun, you guys. You have no idea. Well, it's here. I suppose this post was long enough already.