October and Expectations

The October game releases is the real budget crisis in my book.  How the hell am I going to afford all the games I want that are coming out in the next few weeks?  Of the long list Fallout 3 and Little Big Planet probably have my attention the most though I have to say I am a little bit concerned...

I think video game PR gig has gotten so good in the past years that it's hard not to hype up a game to a level beyond where it belongs.  I assume it's something related to the potential for the inital week of sales.  I think my biggest fear in this regards is Little Big Planet.  I've seen tons of videos dating back to, what, over a year now.  And I've been excited about it sense then.  But will it deliver in any way like I'm hoping?  Spore comes to mind.  With LBP I'm looking for a solid platformer and a set of tools that I will really enjoy playing around with.  Is that going to be the case?  I guess I just have to wait.

It's not to say I'm worried about the quality of Fallout 3, as I have faith that the Oblivion guys are going to make a solid game.  It just may not be a game I'm totally into.  I'm somewhat worried about Fallout 3.  Do I expect it to be the same game as it's predecesors?  No.  I expect it to be a re-skinned Oblivion.  Of course that's not doing justice to the hard work folks put into making this new game.  I'm sure it was quite a technical feat.  My biggest issue is that I've had my qualms with the Morrowind Series.  It's going back to my whole issue with sand-box style gameplay.

I define a sandbox type game as one where you're placed in a world where, aside from being able to play around with the world (ala getting into a vicious police fight in GTA 4 or finding the tallest structure to jump off of) you can also choose the means by which you complete your missions (like taking out a target in GTA 4 by running them over vs. having a shoot out).  All of this generally progresses through a predetermined path to the ending.  It's quite an impressive goal for a developer to set out and create a world where you can experience things in the way they want to experince them.  One of the defining characteristics of these games is the way the player experiences the story.  Either have a well defined character ( Niko Bellic) or have a complete construct of the player (Oblivion style).  Both of them experience the story and both of them have freedom as to how they can move through the world but from my experience, they have a very different effect on me as I play them.

I had my issues with relating to Nico Bellic, as he was a murderer.  But I did try to put myself in my shoes as often as possible.  Sometimes I was quite distressed by the decisions I had to make, wishing I could just say: "Fuck this, I don't want to do either of these things.  I just want to leave Liberty City altogether, start over again."  Perhaps not that dramatic.  But  I liked that I had that response.  It meant I was invested in Nico's "future" even though I knew it was pre-written by a series of very bright game writers. 

With my character in Oblivion, I had hints of pride as I recieved praise from various NPCs, but I just couldn't really give a shit about it for very long b/c my character wasn't real enough.  I didn't really care what he/she did b/c I couldn't relate to a back story.  It was enough to not make me invest more than 10 hours into the game (I just stopped in the middle of a quest when I couldn't find out where I needed to go).  I guess I don't feel like developers have effectively achieved the level of story telling in video games where they can allow complete character creation and deliver an effective story.

Was the original Fallout more of an Oblivion or a GTA?  Well naturally it comes across as more of an Oblivion, as it had a character creation, and a silent protaganist.  Why then am I complaining? That's just what Oblivion was like...   Am I asking for more close-ended video games? Perhaps I just haven't seen a RPG that conveys a story as well as a more action driven game like GTA 4 or even something like Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. 

Perhaps I need to think about this some more...