What is next generation?

“Next generation” is a term that is used extensively in the world of video gaming, but I’m sick of hearing about it. Technology is always evolving, always moving forwards and what’s cutting edge today is a Sega Saturn tomorrow (zing!). I just don’t believe that the endless pursuit of better graphics: a few more FPS, a slightly higher resolution, is what the majority of gamers are after (hit me up with a comment if you think I’m wrong). Thinking about it, that whole “endless” thing sounds like a great way to sell consoles though (call me a cynic)

I recently purchased Far Cry 2, which had been billed as the first truly next gen game on the PS3 and whilst it is true that the graphics are breath taking (the African landscapes look stunning, especially when viewed in hi-def), it is not the whole story. For those of you not aware of the concept of the game, you play a bloke trying to track down some guy in the middle of a lawless part of Africa, where all communication is done with diamonds and bullets and where you must traverse all of the afore mentioned African territory completing missions in a Grand Theft Auto style setup. Sounds good doesn’t it? The problem is that you spend all of your time trying to get to the next mission, just to be set upon by the groups of low AI enemies that seem to sit around every corner – you can’t out run them, fighting them will leave you with no health and no ammo and taking an alternative route requires the patience of a saint. Assuming that you get to your mission, you are supposed to be able to tackle it in what ever style you want, but I promise you that you won’t be able to employ any Solid Snake stealth tactics – there is only one way, all guns blazing. If you run out of ammo, then toss your gun and pick up the one dropped by the guy you just, er… dropped, brilliant, except the same gun that he was just happily firing at you, will jam as soon as you try to use it. You can turn and run for cover, but expect to be struck down by your malaria, oh, didn’t I mention that you have malaria too and will be frequently struck down unless you treat it with pills that you can only get by completing missions – my bad. I think I’ve made my point.

Conversely, I still sometimes feel the need to get out my Sega Megadrive and Mega Bomberman and can lose entire days in a four player tournament with friends; the graphics aren’t rendered in high definition, or even in 3D, but I have never once noticed it, nor have I ever questioned the different colour kangaroos (you need to have played it) that you can get. If anyone knows how the dancing kangaroo works then please let me know!

I’m not buying the online functionality of the big three consoles as being next gen either, since this has been available over LAN/WAN to PC gamers for years. I will also be so brazen as to dismiss the Wii-mote, Wii-fit, Six Axis controller, etc, etc too, as they aren’t particularly ground breaking either – all of this technological progress so that you can run on the spot, or play virtual screwball-scramble?!? There is no reason why this sort of controller could not have been introduced long ago, in fact, it was – the dance mat and light gun existed way before any of this other stuff. Notice that I didn’t include the Wii itself, or indeed any of it’s games, in my list; I have nothing against the little console and applaud Nintendo for making games that people want to play, that people that normally wouldn’t be interested in computer games want to play, but I suppose it’s what they are good at. As a non-Wii owner I would particularly like to be able to play Mario Kart and Super Mario Galaxy and I guess that LittleBIGPlanet is the PS3s attempt at a title that is accesible to a wider range of gamers than the normal demographic addresses (having not played it, I’ll reserve my judgement).

What I want are games that are original, fun, interesting and challenging, good graphics are a brilliant bonus, but they can’t carry a game. My message to the games developers would be this, don’t just trot out a tarted up version of your prized title each year and think that it is good enough, nor should you look at what the other guy is doing and just do that. I saw an interview with the guys responsible for the new Tomb Raider game, they were trying to claim that they had come up with all of these new and innovative ways of controlling Lara (I’ve completed the first four TR games, so think I can use her first name), but I’m pretty sure that most of them were in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Likewise, this years edition of PES is good, but not great and not as enjoyable as FIFA.

My point is this, wherever the fun is, that’s where you’ll find me* and as for “next gen”, don’t belive the hype.

*Currently that means hunting down random strangers on CoD5. Shoot first, ask questions later.

Post tune: N-Dubz Feat. Baker, Love For My Slum, Uncle B.

2 thoughts on “What is next generation?

  1. Keep it retro man! You know it makes sense…

    It’s really annoying how games get worse with each sequel – I can play the first Tomb Raider every couple of years, but the sequels just got worse and worse. Same goes for Medal of Honour, Worms, Driver, etc…

    I can’t entertain the idea of any consoles since the PS2 – I only play on my Dreamcast these days…

  2. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PS3, it would be better if it could play all of my old PS1 and PS2 games and better still if it were flat (what’s that hump about?), it’s just that I don’t think that many games have taken advantage of the improved technology.

    Continuing the Tomb Raider theme, the two biggest things that needed improving from the first game were the graphics and the fact that you could jump from side to side and avoid being “got” by the majority of baddies. Both of these things were fixed by the third installment, but by this time, the rest of the premise was a bit tired (and in my opinion still is). With PES the problem is that I find myself not being able to do the things that I want to do, to make the passes that I want to make, FIFA affords me more freedom and control (this is the same reason I switched my allegiance from FIFA to PES originally).

    As the video games market has become more lucrative, the industry has become more focused on making money and there is less concern about satisfying gamers. There are still some people making proper games, but they are few and far between and that is why I go back to Bomber Man. Having waited for GTA and then COD5, I’m now waiting for the new Time Splitters (a modern version of Bomber Man?), which is one of the best game series ever: it doesn’t suffer from the iterative decline I mentioned earlier, it just gets better and better – plus it’s got monkeys!

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