Unprofessional Fridays: 12/19/2014
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Dimensions recaptures enough of Geometry Wars' thrills to stand as the best new dual-joystick shooter in quite a while.
The little mushroom man finally gets his name on the marquee, and the result is a charming, unique, and puzzle-heavy adventure.
Nintendo's all-stars assemble once again, resulting in one of the best reasons to own a Wii U (and eight GameCube controllers).
I was asked recently by my girlfriend what would I rather give up movies or video games. She had no intention of forcing my choice upon me and removing the sacrificial media from my life as it was just a harmless game of would you rather but none the less I paused for some considerable time while I pondered the options.On one hand video games have yet to disappoint me to the depth that movies have but that itself is just down to the sheer saturation I have placed myself in with regards to the silver screen. I have been watching movies my entire life and not in the casual way. I love the medium and I love it done well and while 90% of the output is dismissed out of hand or viewed and then dismissed its that 10% that captivates me and keeps me coming back for more.Video games I love also as a medium and I am far more forgiving of its faults than I am with movies, I can walk away from games I know are bad with memories of what I found enjoyable while movies I found enjoyable I often take nothing from but the things I know are bad. I am a critical person and while playing a game I will unleash that criticism through screams and shouts of infuriation but when the princess is saved and the day is won I can still find time to look back on what I loved about the game and take just that. Wet, Wanted, Dark Void, Brutal Legend are all so so games when all is said and done but each one has mechanics, or story ideas, or styles of game play, or level design I can see favor in.Which is why the idea of choosing one medium over the other was like my very own Sophie's choice or Kobayashi Maru. Ultimately my choice was movies over video games for one very simple yet crucial reason. Most blockbuster kind of movies I would rather experience in game form, I would take Uncharted 2 or Modern Warfare 2 over the majority of the action flicks and I would take a Resident Evil or Left 4 Dead game over most horror. with games getting better written every iteration there is often as much comedy in a half decent game as I am likely to find in the 4-5 good scenes most film comedies average. I looked to some of my favorite films like Fight Club and the Godfather and in my head deconstructed them and remade them as video games and while not perfect reproductions I felt their narrative could be transferred to a video game format.So why pick movies? I cast my mind back to the films I had enjoyed this year, Up In The Air, Away We Go or Rachel Getting Married. None of which would work in a video game format then I looked further back to Almost Famous, Jerry McGuire, High Fidelity and Brokeback Mountain or further yet to Singing In The Rain, Litle Shop of Horrors and other films of my youth. While games can equal the action, tension and comedy of movies there are still emotional experiences they cannot master, and more to the point I wouldn't want them to.I don't want to play as Kim quicktime eventing my way through an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I don't want to explain to Penny Lane she was traded for a case of beer via a dialogue tree and I don't want to point and click my way through airports as I try and reach 6 million air miles.Thankfully I don't have to choose as both coexist quite peacefully but I do wonder if games will ever turn the tide and what they would have to do to make me willing to sacrifice the emotional climax of a great movie.
The history of consoles can be marked with people declaring what will never work on a console only for the tables to be overturned and time and time again the console reaches those very heights. For a long period of time hearing a comment such as ‘yeah consoles can be fun but they will never match the graphical immersion of the PC’ was a pretty common thing, now look around at Heavy Rain, Modern Warfare 2, Final Fantasy 13, Uncharted 2 and countless others and tell me if that stands true. Once upon a time the very idea of a console FPS coming close to the pc experience, playability or competitive edge was laughable, today its by far the top selling genre on consoles.
There are still a few stalwart gaming genres and standards that the pc lays claim to, one of the largest has to be considered the MMO. I know there have been Phantasy Stars and Final Fantasy’s that have tried, I am not saying they don’t exist on the console but can they really be considered in the same league as the PC MMO giants.
The times however in the words of Dylan are a changing and what consoles can and can’t do gets reset weekly and while there isn’t exactly a WoW killer lurking in Q3 the building blocks are certainly beginning to fall into place. To truly maintain an MMO to even a fraction of the scale and durability of a game like WoW there are 3 factors that are the cornerstones to build from, the ability to interact on a large scale, the ability to cultivate community and the replayability to maintain that communities drive. While no one game on any console truly possesses all 3 of these factors the last 6 months have heralded 3 giant leaps in the right direction.
Interaction on a Huge Scale – M.A.G.
Stop rolling your eyes right now! Whether you are for or against the game the principle and groundwork it is laying is pretty interesting for the discussion. Not only is it offering this scope of huge battles the other thing MAG brings to the table is the faction element, not to dissimilar from Horde vs. Alliance. While MAG’s success ultimately rests on it maintaining a high number of players offering those players a virtual war that there involvement in effects is almost a stroke of genius. With most online shooters in the end there is no loyalty to anyone beyond your character and your friends; it’s about personal glory rather than communal victory.
Community Cultivation – Modern Warfare 2
It helps that Modern Warfare 2 sold really well I will give you that, but look across the internet and you will find clan websites, recruiting drives, videos of peoples favourite moments, guides, charters and a community that would never want to admit it but isn’t 1000 miles away from that of a WoW community. The biggest hurdle in creating these communities is that a friends list and party system cannot compete with the internet at your fingertips. While the enthusiasm is there the tools to create these communities are not up to speed yet but heading closer everyday.
Replayability – Borderlands
Borderlands is at its core a localised MMO lacking only character customization and crafting. The thing it does better than a lot of other games that may be considered more replayable is loot, and cool looking loot is king. The trick that draws you in and keeps you playing when you have already hit the level cap is the knowledge that the loot dropped can keep getting better and better and better. The bad guys evolve, adapt and change in subtle little ways to keep it fun but it is the ever growing quest for the elusive better gun that really keeps you coming back, not so different from hunting down tier ++ armour. Looking at the latest DLC the Armoury of General Knoxx also offers what can be considered the first console raid boss with the final mission being constantly replayable.
You bring these three games together and throw in the ability in game to maintain and manage clans/factions/squads/ guilds or whatever you want to call it and maybe just maybe you would have something that could bring the PC MMO experience to the console.
With games like Champions, DC Universe & The Secret World heading to the consoles soon and the rumours flying around about Activision considering the idea of bringing subscription model gaming to the consoles it can’t be long before this juggernaut of a gaming genre makes a serious play for the millions of console users and if they can build upon the above I for one will be open to them.
As long as they don’t suck.
Use your keyboard!
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