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Working Title 09.10.12: Working Title: I'm Afraid for Next Gen
Posted by Jordan Williams on 09.10.2012









Welcome to the #1 Column to have attended the RNC, WORKING TITLE. Yeah, there was no column last week because I was too busy working security and protecting a bunch of republicans at the RNC. I don't have a political bias one way or another but it was pretty funny to see just how fuckin' crazy and fanatical some of the delegates there are. Not to say the Dems don't have the same level (if not more) excitement and craziness but holy shit you would think that Ann Romney was a fucking rock star or something. And yes, I was working during the whole Clint Eastwood thing…and yes…the audience did indeed eat it the fuck up.

And no, contrary to popular belief I was not the only black person there.

With that being said I did manage to play some games and I have also come to the realization that I will never make the Deadpool column…mostly because of what I saw while doing research for it. But of course before I get into the actual meat the column I am going to open up my…

Working Backlog

Halo: Reach
Lemme let you in a little secret. I actually like Halo. I know a lot of the people who typitty type words into the internet about video games tend to dislike Halo for some reason. I am actually looking forward to Halo 4 so I decided to get back into it by picking up Halo: Reach again. Man…I hadn't really played it since the Title Update so I can actually understand it when people say that the Title Update was sort of bullshit. I get that the MLG crowd and the super serious players hated Armor Lock but goddamn did it deserve such a nerf? Admittedly I usually stick to BTB and Team but the old Armor Lock had its good features. Either way it seems like all of that stuff is gone from Halo 4 anyway so I won't even fret about it too much.

Madden 13
Every year I rent Madden just to see if I liked it again. So do I like it this year? Nope. I guess it's because while I enjoy watching football…I don't think I have EVER liked playing the games outside of Blitz and some of the older Maddens. It seems like they get more into the "Football Manager" side of things with draft picks and budgets and salary caps. …Fuck all of that. I don't want that bullshit. Just let me pick my team and play my 12 games with escalating difficulty. Also it seems like the more they ‘refine' and ‘revolutionize' the controls the less responsive they are. I don't like it. Where the hell is Road Rash?

Lollipop Chainsaw
Coming off of Shadows of the Damned I really wanted to like this game…but after about three levels I really just felt like I was done with it. The combos are boring, the controls weren't that responsive and while I know it's almost impossible for this to happen it felt like the game was trying TOO hard to ape on its Buffy-styled action and story. I mean it was to the point where it was too busy going "HEY! LOOK AT JULIET AN EXPY OF BUFFY BUT WITHOUT ANY OF THE OTHER TROPES AND...AND SHE'S A CHEERLEADER…AND…AND THIS AND THAT" instead of making the actual gameplay interesting.

Transformers: Fall for Cybertron
Motherfuckin' Transformers. I loved War for Cybertron and god dammit I love Fall of Cybertron, too. I'm not a fan of how short the game but the fact that that makes TWO really good Transformers games that have come out this generation. I mean…is it possible that Transformers is on the upswing again? I didn't hate the Bay movies but TF: Prime and these games could be a nice little resurgence for this franchise.

Sleeping Dogs
I really like this game. I could wax on more about it but pretty much everything I liked about this game is taken from…other games I liked. So I'll just say I really like Wheelman, Saints Row (1), GTA: San Andreas, Burnout, and True Crime: Streets of LA.
Also pork buns.


Working Title: I'm Afraid for Next Gen

We've been saying it for months now, but it is pretty much a lock that at this time next year we will be playing on and looking at the Next Generation of consoles. We will have the Xbox 720 and the PS4 and the Wii U will have already been out a year at this point. The future will have hit is hard and we will be right there in the launch window picking up all of the goodies that the developers have bestowed upon us.

So why is it that I am actually afraid of the next gen? Like…I am afraid that we are going to get more of the same because there has been NOTHING I have seen to the contrary. I haven't seen anything outside of graphics that could be improved with the bump in hardware.

Take one of the most talked about games from E3 this year in Star Wars, it looked nice…but once the game got in motion it looked like nothing more than a really good version of Uncharted with a Star Wars theme to it. It's the same run and gun stop and pop third person action we have been seeing for the better part of five years now. And don't say shit like "These games have always been there" and "There wasn't that big of a leap last generation either" because that's simply not true.



You didn't see games like Uncharted on the PS2, you didn't see a Halo: Reach level of multiplayer on the Xbox. You didn't see Heavy Rain or Mass Effect. The current generation not only evolved from a hardware perspective but it really did push some of the more creative elements of games forward. Developers were able to do more because they had more. Those creative visions they had could pan out because the hardware allowed for it. Now all of these things could (and probably still will) happen on the next gen…but I haven't SEEN anything that would lead me to believe so.

Near the end of the last console cycle we were getting news of stuff coming down the line. We were hearing about these new magical worlds we could explore and these new gameplay mechanics we could take advantage of. We are approximately one year away from the next generation for the HD consoles and we have heard nothing.

Nada.

Zip.

In fact if you really want to get into it we haven't SEEN much new material coming out. We've seen demos for the new Unreal engine. We've seen demos for new engines but all of that so far are graphical upgrades. We know that the next generation is going to have graphical upgrades; it's pretty much a fact by now. What I am looking for is…what is going to change how I play? What is coming down the line that I can look back on and go "There was no way I was going to have that experience on an Xbox 360 or a PS3". But maybe this is just a nitpick and I am making a big deal about nothing here. The thing that troubles me more is that we have had no clear idea where the downloadable stuff is going.


What about XBL and PSN?

It's not secret that we have sunken A LOT of money into to not only DLC but also downloadable games in this generation. While it did start out sort of rough we are now getting AAA quality titles that are download only. We are now getting DLC for some games that make the game really worthwhile to play. What is going to happen to all of that stuff next year? Seeing how both Sony and Microsoft don't seem to have a good enough handle of backward compatibility I am not going to hold my breath for them to confirm that all of the Xbox 360 and PS3 titles we play now are going to be supported on the new consoles. But what about the intangible objects? The download only games…are those going to carry over? Will those be compatible? Will there be some sort of premium to get those moved over. I agree it does sound evil EVEN for Microsoft and Sony to try to pay-gate that stuff or somehow leave it out…but have you heard anything to the contrary? What if we get into a situation like the Xbox 360 had where only a handful of the titles from XBLA are supported? What about the games that have been delisted from XBLA and PSN? Are those going to be gone forever or will I be able to transfer those over?



And let's not even look at it from the XBLA/PSN centric side. While it is nowhere near as good as Steam's service there are people that do indeed purchase the downloadable versions of 360 and PS3 games to play on their console. What happens to those?


And at this point in my crazy old man rant I am sure some hip youngster is piping up and going

"Don't worry! Indy will save the day!"

No. It won't.

Indy isn't going to save anything. Not yet

I'll just be blunt as I can here.
Indy games are not the savior. I know they are doing cool things and doing new stuff. But you know what? The more of them that are coming out the more they are all starting to look the same.

A retro-styled 2D platformer.

Do you know how many Indy games I just described? I'm not saying that mainstream games don't have their fair share of issues…I mean I was just talking about how everything is becoming an Uncharted clone at the top of this rant. My thing is that when Indy games truly came and burst onto the scene there was a bit "FUCK YEAH, WE'RE DOIN' NEW SHIT" mentality about them. Braid and Spelunky(the original) and some of the others opened people's eyes and showed them that they don't need a big budget to make a big game. But as the years have gone on we have seen countless games go in with that same style guide and admittedly most of them are good…but if you think that alone is going to save the innovation of gaming you are sorely mistaken. You can even see it now around the various gaming haunts over the internet. The most reductive way you can look at an indy game now is by going "That retro-styled 2D platformer" and while that isn't fair to the game itself…it's also not wrong.



As I did security this week it reminded me about the worst thing about stereotypes and generalizations; it's that they all come from a nugget of truth.

Indy games need the same shot in the arm that every other genre/style/anything needs to make it hit that next level. They can be innovative as all fuck but you have to realize that whether we like it or not you still have to cater to broader audience. When all of your stuff begins to look the same people will stop paying attention because they think they've seen it before. Look at the last four Mario games for an example.

This is not me spreading my cheeks and taking a hot toddy on Indy games. I think they are great, but I have seen a lot of people hedge all of the bets of the next generation of games being led by a big Indy charge and I don't think that is going to happen until Indy games, ironic as this sounds, break away from the mold they've created for themselves.


I know this isn't the most coherent rant, I am pretty sure it's full of more logic leaps and holes than a pockmarked fat kid's ass. But the whole point that I am trying to get to is that we are on the tip of the next generation and it doesn't feel like we NEED it yet for the right reasons. Yes, console games are starting to look like shit next to the PC counterparts, but I don't think shiny new graphics is enough of a reason to start a new generation. Yes, gameplay and innovation has largely become stale…but on the other side no one has shown us what they intend to do to change that next generation. If all of the dirt sheets, hints, and news bits out there are to believed. We could have new consoles in our homes as early as NEXT YEAR and two of the big three haven't even told us why we should get them yet.

And I don't know about you but I don't think a single E3 is going to be enough to convince me to jump to the next generation.


Working Question
Without any of the information we know of…what is the ONE thing you want out of the next generation of consoles (Wii U included)?

Until next time, I'm Jordan Williams…and Borderlands 2 is going to fucking destroy me.





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