Lag #4

Soon, my friends, soon it will be over. Soon this drought will be no more and our thirst quenched with creamy gaming goodness beyond belief. We are teased by demos and trailers of what is to come, but that only serves to intensify the hunger. Was it not for the New Super Mario Bros. I would more than likely be dead inside; a meagre shell of my former gaming self. My most recent slice of the gaming pie has come from the Saints Row demo available on Xbox Live Marketplace. I immediately dismissed this game as a GTA rip off and after some time playing it I came to the conclusion that yes, this is a GTA rip off. The verdict: it’s a good GTA rip off. The main reason being down to the sound of the online multiplayer, call me an unruly youth drunk on rebellion, but the sound of me and my friends going online as a gang wearing similar clothing and committing virtual crimes against other players sounds too appealing to pass up. The next purchase is but a week later with Dead Rising, a title I have been looking forward to since it was announced and I advise any zombie fan check it out.

As some of you may know, I have been yearning for Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting to hit the marketplace since its announcement, however after downloading it I’ve come to realize that the game is hard as nails and I am but another schmuck in awe of its difficulty. Then again I do love a challenge.

Despite early reports of E3 being cancelled it would seem that the show shall live on, but on a significantly smaller, less glamorous scale. I myself am thankful that the show will still be on and am rather glad that it will become more an event for the industry as opposed to a popularity contest. That said, I will miss some of the crazy things that happen with E3 fever; Peter Moore’s crazy lucid dream claims, Reggie kicking ass and taking names and those pesky giant enemy crabs.

Xbox.com has unveiled the Gears of War launch dates and they seem strangely familiar. Oh yes that’s right it’s the launch of the PS3. Aggressive? Yes. Foolish? Probably. I cannot discredit Microsoft for their efforts in the console market yet as I cannot help but feel that this supposed “strategic” launch is nothing short of silly. I really doubt Gears of War will be big enough to convince people to buy a 360 instead of a PS3. Maybe if they re-named it Halo 3 just for that day it might have the desired effect?

Is it me or do any others on this ship of the foolish believe that an industry leader should be there for a reason? Ok so Sony have never been the most original company in the world (I’m looking you Dual Shock), but they did have the genius idea to offer a low cost development platform that was easy to develop for and could also play your CD’s (and then later your DVD’s). When did they go from being a company of the people to the company that tells the people what they want?. To be honest despite the obvious Wii influence in their “new” controller I feel that the limitation of tilting is far inferior to total movement. Then there is this interesting little “entitlement rumour” which if true simply takes the proverbial piss. I myself believe that if Sony is to silence the critics and go for a third generation in a row they need something original and unique to do so. The Wii is changing the way we play games; the Xbox 360 is changing the way that users interact with each other and has also given the pro online distribution factions a powerful new ally. I also find Sony’s statement after the loss of GTA exclusivity to be strangely familiar to that of one Hiroshi Yamauchi after the loss of Squaresoft (now Square-Enix). Tie this in with the absence of the multi-million selling Smackdown franchise for a year has me wondering if Sony can even compete. Of course there is the factor that it will sell on name alone, but I think the ludicrous price tag does no favours to the PlayStation brand name. I have yet to find a reason to pick up my third Sony console other than Metal Gear Solid 4 and despite my love of the series, it’s not worth dishing out £425 over a console for one game.

Now moving on to an issue I find particularly interesting, this month’s topic is inspired by God of War creator David Jaffe. Jaffe noted in his blog that he has “lost interest in making any kind of game that does not fully and only embrace interactivity in the most purest sense”. Anyone who has played God of War can argue for its excellent play mechanics – it was clear how much blood sweat and tears went into God of War to make sure it was a joy to play. The cut scenes were clearly there to transition between locations, justify Kratos’ adventure and to make the player sympathize with Kratos. However they were not the reason to buy and play the game, just an addition. Jaffe wants to takes away those cut scenes and create a pure interactive experience that still carries over the justification, transitions and the sympathy. Personally I’d like to see what Jaffe brings to the table; I personally think God of War had the balance between story and game play just right. If you totally devoid a game of story (down to the level of no characters no justification etc) we end up with Geometry Wars. If we base the game around the story we end up with Final Fantasy, a series where in retrospect the game itself just meshes into a blur of various fights and pivotal story moments (the death of Aeris for example). I have no problem with games being made this way: it is key to the balance of the gaming eco system; if one should take precedence it would upset the balance. Not that this topic is really going anywhere since it is merely one mans analysis of another mans views, it’s merely something to think about next time a game catches your eye, what are you looking at it for, the story, the game play or both?

Just before I tied this article up I found this.

God bless you, Valve….