The expansion upon another person’s idea is commonplace in the modern-day video games industry. From the hardware manufacturers’ endless attempts to master another’s initial innovation, to the blockbuster game “inspiring” an endless stream of eager copycats; seemingly, there’s no good idea that cannot be improved upon.
It’s becoming apparent that certain game developers have managed to forge a reputation of unwarranted adoration. Somehow – even without a compelling lack of evidence – their supposed brilliance is placed on a pedestal of worship as their faithful disciples praise key aspects of their work such as creativity, individuality, and how their false idol’s games are so unique.
If you recall my Call of Duty retro reflection, you’ll remember that I spoke a great deal on one of the many recent shifts in the video game industry over the last few years and decade: that of a substantial slide into the cinematic. Sequels have become staples, blockbusters have been integral in reshaping the industry’s economy, and the gaming experience has become more developer-driven than ever, the rotten core of linearity smothered in the creamy commercialization of sheer spectacle… Michael Bay would be proud.
Back in 2001, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto III, a game which single-handedly redefined the expectations of what an open-world game could achieve. Incredible scale, unprecedented freedom, and unpredictable gameplay catapulted GTA III to greatness. We were finally free from the shackles of linearity, the never-ending corridors and invisible walls which housed our polygon-based illusion.
I must admit, I really didn’t see this one coming. Again, an indie title has hit the nail on the head. I had just finished playing through Bastion for the second time when I heard the news that the champion of iOS games was now available on Steam. In all its pixelated glory, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP has made its debut on ‘the electric computer’.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was last year’s RPG sequel to the 2007 critical classic that flew fairly under the commercial radar; an ambitious production focused on morality and consequence in a realpolitik-type world. Based on a series of fantasy novelizations by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher was not about heroes and villains; it was about the grayness of life, and the shades of sin. While that might seem a rather pretentious proposition for a video game, both the original game and its sequel pulled it off with an incredibly intricate and beautiful world balanced with some great third-person combat.
The Ridge Racer franchise isn’t just synonymous with a famed history of fast arcade racing, friction defying drifts and enjoyable, simplistic gameplay. No, thanks to Sony’s infamous 2006 E3 presentation – featuring their newly appointed President, Kaz Hirai – most of us will forever associate the Ridge Racer brand with the incredible enthusiasm shown by Kaz as he introduced Namco’s evergreen racer to an audience of bemused journalists.
List everything you know and love about the Resident Evil franchise: the tight tension of single-player survival horror, the right dose of zombie enemies at those unexpected moments, the sparse supply of bullets and saves, and of course, the ultimate redundancy, being asked if you’d like to pick up the ammo.
It’s astonishing to think that the last time gamers got to enjoy the frolics of heaven’s angelic solider, Pit, it was on the crusty black and white screen of the original Game Boy in Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters. And that was over two decades ago. When you think of how far the industry has come in that time, it’s almost terrifying.
Released a couple of years ago, the original Alan Wake was a harmonious hybrid of third-person action and television-stylised narrative that freshened up the familiar with an allegory steeped in allusion and illusion.
A traditional fanfare of photography flashbulbs, developer spiels and baiting journalists greeted Sony’s announcement of the PSVita. Fancy features were touted, pricing strategies discussed and time frames were given. But there was one particular presentation that stole the show. A game which defied belief and set the standard for what people would come to expect from Sony’s next generation portable.