Today has been one of those days. You know, when there is stuff that you probably should do, that you don't really want to do, but it isn't pressing enough to incite the panic necessary to do it? Yup, one of those days today. The kind of day that after it I feel kinda bad that I didn't do anything, even though I didn't have to. One of those days. TIme to play some games I guess and cap it off right.
The recent unveiling of the new 3DS from Nintendo has left me a with a bit of a puzzle: should I buy it when it comes out (assuming it lists for a reasonable price) or not? The game catalog introduced with the device was pretty impressive to be sure, and by all accounts the 3D effect lives up to the promise, however, I am finding my pockets too cluttered lately. I have an old cell phone, which is due to be replaced by one of those shiny new smart phones (Android, iOS, or WebOS I have yet to decide). I also already own a PSP that I use on a regular basis. To add a 3DS into the mix would require lugging around another (albeit small) device. While the combo of a smartphone and a PSP covers me from a both 'connected' and 'gamer' ends (with significant crossover too) I don't thing I can resist adding the 3DS to my daily luggage. Why would I deprive myself of all the fun to be had with it, right? (Not to mention - IT TAKES 3D PICTURES!)
When all the info about a Playstation controller that you could split apart was circling a while ago, I had to wonder what the point of such a device could be. (There was the patent for the break apart one that featured one half that looked like the current motion controller - fair enough - I can see the point in that.) Then, after seeing the footage of RE5 being played with a PS3 motion controller in one hand and a DualShock in the other, it all made sense (at least to me). Breaking apart the controller would allow one half to be used just like the Wii's nunchuck attachment. Perhaps. Maybe. Someday. Or not.
I just picked up Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Limited edition (an aside: how limited can it be if it is available brand new, in store, more than a year after launch?) for $19.83. Prior to this, in July, EB games was selling the same product for $9.89. At either of these prices the game you get is an amazing value. But the question is why is the game available for so cheap? I understand that is what happens with games, there is a big spash when the come out and then a long, usually insignificant tail of sales. The publishers/retailers try to get the most of the title by cutting its price in an attempt to move units and eventually it makes its way from the wall shelves to the discount bins. That is the way things work. Unless of course you look at some Nintendo titles - in particular the Mario Kart series which continue to sell well month after month. It seems as the new Nintendo console buyers are recruited each month a large percentage of them pick up certain titles almost by default and as such the games continue to sell at or near their introduced price. Why has that not translated to other consoles. Both the 360 and the PS3 add new gamers each month. Why, if you by a PS3 for example, do you not automatically pick up a copy of MGS4? Does it have to do with limited mass appeal of certain genres? Or does it say something more about the difference between those that own a PS3 or 360 and those that own a Wii? The only title that I can think of that has been close to an 'Evergreen' title for the more graphically endowed current-gen systems is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
I have played through, and enjoyed immensely, a number of AAA titles in the past year for the PS3. (I'm certain if you are reading this that you have also likely played a number of AAA games recently on whatever console(s) you own.) Prior to the games' releases I, probably like most who frequent sites like this, I would take notice of and devour the increased coverage of the title that would inevitably lead up to its debut. Once the game actually hit store shelves I'd pick it up as soon as I could and spend the next few days playing through the whole thing. Often after finishing the game, however, I have been left with a feeling of being let down. Not from the experience mind you, but from the end of the anticipation; akin to waking up on Boxing Day when you are young and realizing that there is nothing in your stocking and will not be anything in it for another year. Multiplayer components help mitigate this sometimes, but after jumping in a couple times the experience is no longer new (even though it may be quite fun). It seems to me that the gaming industry in general has developed a fantastic system for creating a frenzy surrounding a title, converting that attention to sales almost immediately upon release and then, once the gamer has had a couple of days to enjoy/digest the experience, focus attention on the the next game in the pipeline.
I do not want it to sound like I am complaining too much. I enjoy assimilating the copious information doled out prior to a games release - it helps me decide whether or not to spend my money on it. I just can't help but wonder if it all makes it easier to get over-hyped for a game and as a result affects my experience with it.
I guess the nice thing is that I have a choice in all of this. (But then what would I read about on the internet at work?)
I recently benefitted from video game training in my real life and am wondering if others have experienced similar benefits of dedicated hours with controller in-hand.
My wife and I were driving home one evening around 11 pm. Our route took us by a large hotel with an equally large parking lot. As we progressed past the lot, up popped three young teen-aged punks who pelted our car with rocks. I yelled at my wife (who was driving) to stop the car. She slammed on the brakes and I was out of the car before it stopped; running after the perpetrators through a dark parking lot. Thats when my game training kicked in - every first person shooter I had ever played came back to lend a hand - I began strategizing as I was moving, thinking about how I could intercept my prey. I saw them enter one of the external doors of the hotel, turn around and scan the parking lot for any sign of their pursuer (me). Luckily, I was already pretty much out of view when the did this and was able to duck into a different external door without them knowing. I then worked my way up towards the exit where I had seen them stationed just moments before. Obviously they have not played enough FPSs as they were still in the same spot (gotta keep moving kids), I snuck up behind them (3 of them) and grabbed first two by their necks, picked them up, slammed them against the wall, and held them there (one in each hand) while I yelled at them for 10 minutes and impressed upon them the ultimate stupidity of their actions. (The third kid -who I didn't grab was dumbstruck.) After making my point (over an over) I released them and made them open the door for me to show a little respect. They were so shaken-up that they started freaking out when the door wouldn't open (they were pushing on a pull door). I walked out to my car, which my wife had pulled into the parking lot, and checked for damage. There wasn't any noticeable so I decided to leave it at that.
I felt pretty good after catching and chastising those kids - a little vigilante justice, but also felt quite old. Anyway, video games to the rescue again.
If you believe what Sony Computer Entertainment America wants you to then the PS3 is an exceptional value compared to its competitors (namely the Xbox360 - the Wii is a different animal). I have seen a couple articles address this issue lately, however, in my opinion they have all fallen short of true feature parity. The following chart is my attempt at creating comparable 360 and PS3 systems beginning with the standard 60 and 80GB configurations. (I am from Canada and as such all prices reflect the MSRP in Canadian Dollars)
250 (Profile 2.0 with BD Live)
The bottom line is, if you want to both game and play Blu-Ray movies the PS3 offers a significant price advantage. True, you can stream HD movies via NetFlix on a 360, however, it is not at 1080p resolution. If a Blu-Ray player is a non-issue for you then the true cost of the two systems is pretty even. If you do not need WiFi access then the 360 has a 88 dollar advantage, however, when you factor in the cost of a Gold level Live account, that advantage doesn't take long to evaporate.
SCEA appears to have a point when they talk about the value proposition of the PS3 (when you factor in the ability to play Blu-Ray discs). However, if the recent PS3 sales figures are any indication they do not seem to be successfully conveying this message to the public.
I generally enjoy playing shooters. First-person, third-person, Word War 2-type, sci-fi, they have all entertained me. During my ride into work this morning (and after recently completing Resistance: Fall of Man); however, I have begun to wonder if the shooter genre (at least the single player campaign) is a bit tired. Now, I must preface the rest of this dialogue by stating that I have yet to play two titles that may indeed, at least partially, alter my view: Call of Duty 4; Battlefield: Bad Company. That being said two innovative titles do not define a trend, much less a paradigm shift.
The vast majority of the shooters currently available on consoles all stick to the same basic formula: you move through some sort of trigger, enemies arrive, you (hopefully) dispatch them, and then move on to the next trigger. I understand that may be a bit of an oversimplification, but that appears to be the basic game design. I am not completely apposed to that design, I understand that in most cases it comes out of technological necessity, however, I am apposed to it when the trigger-based design it is blatantly obvious to me as the player. I think part of the solution to an more engaging single player campaign may have been elucidated by Metal Gear Solid 4. During a recent play-through of MGS4 I purposely engaged heavily in the various paramilitary vs. rebel battles presented. Although there are some obviously scripted elements in those battles, I didn't get the same trigger-design feeling that I have grown accustomed to in traditional shooters.
The best example of what I am talking about occurs as you are working your way up to save Naomi in South America. When you near the paramilitary base you find yourself in the midst of a massive battle between rebel and paramilitary forces. Unlike a typical shooter battle the end-objective does not hinge upon annihilation of your enemy (because it is a Metal Gear Solid game the objective is covert oriented - which may end up in another blog post); I can fight as much or as little as I want. The freedom that a more open ended battle provides, from my point of view, is much appreciated. Once I understand my objective, I can decide the best way to proceed to meet that goal. If that means taking-on all enemies, so be it, however, it may be equally as effective to focus on a few specific targets. For me, having options of how you can proceed through a game is more enjoyable than facing wave after wave of enemies, only changing in number, location, and/or intensity as you progress.
I want to stress that I am only speaking about the single player shooter campaign. The multiplayer component of shooters is, of course, different. There are generally no triggers or scripted events, which is part of the lasting appeal of the multiplayer mode.
What are your thoughts on the shooter genre? Do you agree/disagree? Do you have suggestions of games that I should look to (besides COD4 and Battlefield: Bad Company - those are on my list)?