Crotchety gamers across the internet became cranky when a number of gaming outlets spoiled a plot twist in the highly anticipated Batman: Arkham City. Some outlets put it right in the headline, while others hid it under the fold or within spoiler tags. I’m not here to criticize other outlets and how they handle coverage - especially when it comes from an event devoted to press and media attention. Instead I want to say that spoilers really aren’t the end of the world when it comes to video games.
Of all the mediums that could be affected by spoilers--books, TV, film, and games--the enjoyment of a game is least affected because of their participatory nature. Players are only getting more agency in games as technological and narrative ambitions increase. If someone tells me what happens a few hours into a game, I will still enjoy the hell out of that game.
Let’s take Mass Effect 2 for example. A few months before the game’s release, Bioware revealed that your ship from Mass Effect 1 blows up in the beginning. The internet freaked out, much like with this Arkham City spoiler. Now think back to when you first played Mass Effect 2. The sequence where the Normandy blows up was still awesome and, sure, it would have been more awesome if it was unexpected. Now, remember all the stuff you did after the Normandy exploded, that wasn’t “spoiled” for you: the choices you made, the side missions, the love interests, the cameos from the first game. Those all combined to make Mass Effect 2 the best game released that year.
Arkham City will be the same way. Consider all the other villains they have revealed, and how large the scope of the game is. There will be awesome twists, action scenes, and takedowns of lethal villains. Arkham Asylum was just as fun on my second and third playthroughs--even after knowing all the story beats--and I expect Arkham City to be the same.
It’s going to be playable at E3. It’s going to launch in 2012. It will not involve 3D.
Those are the only things that we know for sure about Nintendo’s next console, which they confirmed in an unusually low-key fashion in a press release yesterday. With facts being as scant as they are, the games press is left to run wild with rumors of what Nintendo’s next design will be. Nintendo, much like Apple, is a company whose innovation makes the press go crazy every time they tease a new product. I’ve been reading the rumors all morning, and while plenty sound tantalizing to be sure, I’m still left a little skeptical.
Most sources I’ve read say that the next console will be much more competitive from a technology standpoint, which makes sense. The Wii’s major problem, lack of third party support, came about partly because publisher’s couldn’t simply port over games they were making for other platforms. A more technically capable console from Nintendo will make them a more viable choice for large publishers, who won’t have to devote the work of another studio to make a Wii version of their game.
Now let’s talk about screens on controllers. Ridiculous, right? It sounded like a perfect nintendo-esque twist on game playing at first, but the more I think about it the less feasible it becomes. There is no way you could have a controller with a 6” screen (especially a touch screen like rumors suggest) and have it cost less than a couple hundred dollars. Also, since it’s rumored to be backwards compatible with Wii games, I can imagine all the customer support nightmares when someone drops their touch screen controller on the floor. Not to mention dead pixels and other support problems inherent with putting a screen on something. Then again, when Wiimotes started smashing HDTVs across the nation, Nintendo dealt with it pretty well.
All of that said, this is Nintendo, and I will no doubt be surprised with what they come up with. They’ve got a track record capable of convincing even the most jaded of fanboys that they can at least execute on a cool idea. Since Nintendo was left behind tech-wise this generation, it will be interesting to see how they fare being first out of the gate this generation. Nintendo definitely has the capability here to win back “core” gamers with HD iterations of their first-party franchises, which would hopefully bring in third parties into the mix. For now, all we can do is ponder the use of a touchscreen controller until Nintendo’s keynote at E3. At least that’s something to be excited about, right?
I'll also be playing a lot of Battlefield for PC this weekend, though the multiplayer in that is such a blast that I will probably be playing it every weekend for the foreseeable future. My name in Battlefield is the same as my Giant Bomb name, so feel free to log on sometime this weekend so we can get some good games in! I usually play on the PC Gamer servers.
I've also still got Final Fantasy 13 but I'm going through that game at such a slow pace (just got to disc 2) that it will be a miracle if I can finish it before Summer. I'm still enjoying it, but I've found that I need to be in a very specific mood to play it.