Here's the last of the gaming releases for 2010. It's been fun to go back and be nostalgic of all the games I played this year and what to expect next year. Next year will be fun, both gaming- and personal-wise. Things should be interesting as next New Years' slowly approaches into 2012. Will people be fearing the fictional apocalypse? What other games could be expect in 2012 - except Bioshock: Infinite and Call of Duty: Space (Because it's fun to fly in space and we ran out of ideas) Warfare? I won't even dare to look into 2013. Well enjoy reading. I know I like writing these.
The month of November in 2010 is one that made history. The biggest selling game of all time, a great franchise becomes annualized, a new peripheral is launched that took the world by storm, the emergence of golden games to be gold once more, racing gets even more interactive, and one of our most treasured cartoon characters gets messy. It was a great month; let's talk about it.
I didn't want to get too much into this because I was planning to cover it in a separate blog post, but what Kinect has turned into is something no one expected. With rumours of the technology not being perfect, racial recognition errors galore and the amount of space needed in a room to actually use the thing, Microsoft proves through advertising prowess anything can be successful. Motion control has been a touchy subject with much of the 'core' audience as we are known. If the Wii was never released, motion control would still be a thing of the future. Gamers complain, and I understand why, to what motion control gaming is doing to our treasured pastime but I feel this presents a unique opportunity. All gamers, at least the ones I know, want the industry to thrive and survive and be around for a long time. The 'core' audience may have supported it for a long time, but the industry is seeing growth (even before the Wii came out) at unprecedented levels. We tend to get lost in the numbers, but both the 360 and PS3 have sold 30 million units, probably more. That's a lot of units to sell continuously in a five-year span. And as the industry grows, it's only natural for companies to seek out new audiences necessary to support such growth. Without consumers, the gaming industry would be a very lonely place and opening it up to new eyes is the best for it economically. The quality of games won't go down - even with the huge success of Move and Kinect, there are still a ton of hardcore titles coming out next year - so there is nothing to fear. Gaming can be for everyone, and it is their right to enjoy the same stuff we do. I sound like I'm defending motion control. I'm against the idea, but I also understand why motion control is necessary for the industry to thrive. I may have a separate blog post on the rise of motion control. Who knows.
I feel uncomfortable talking about this next game. It may be the biggest selling game of all-time, and crowds of tired people would say it deserves it, but, honestly, I don't see all the fuss about Call of Duty: Black Ops. See, I played CoD4 for a long time and I loved every minute. The core gameplay was simple and enjoyable. Get a three-kill streak, UAV; five-kill streak, airstrike; seven-kill streak, helicopter; and that was it. A simple formula that solidified CoD was the premiere multiplayer franchise. But now, the game is just too complicated. In Black Ops there are CoD points, or whatever they are called, that are used to buy perks and weapons. This may be an effective method of fitting styles of play early, but the grind is gone. Gaining ranks and attaining perks that way let the player experiment and try out all perks - I barely ever used Stopping Power (increased bullet damage). That was a common theme in CoD4; but the best players knew how to get around the use of the ultimate perk, and through tactics could defeat the enemy systemically. This is gone in Black Ops. Secondly, there are so many killstreaks it makes my head spin. They range from a tracking camera to attack dogs. Really? A big complaint about Call of Duty is camping is too prevalent, and people do it only to gain killstreaks. This is true, and why it worked in Call of Duty 4 is after seven kills people had no reason to camp anymore. And they didn't. In Black Ops, the killstreaks go up to 14-15 kills, so for the casual player, camping is essential to get a good kill/death ratio (and this is the stat that most players care about. Usually it is a measure of skill but most of the time the stat is ballooned to fit the player's massive ego). Chances are people reading this already bought it, and I'm the only one in the world not playing or not even caring about the game. Although my two podcast mates feel the same way (belowradarpodcast.podbean.com). So, really, the game is a toss-up. If you want a controller-throwing tamper tantrum of a multiplayer mode, go ahead. The Zombies mode is fun though. I will give Treyarch credit on that, if on anything, for once in my life.
This year also had an interesting theme - the reemergence of once-great titles in high definition. Sly Cooper got the treatment with a trailer for Sly 4, but also Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell and Ico/SOTC have all been long rumoured or confirmed to be also getting the treatment. This is great to see this happen - I don't know if Sony and its studios are running out of ideas and this is their way to make a quick buck, or if the company won't ever forget about its heritage and the sole reason why its a mammoth in the industry - the PlayStation. Whatever their reasoning is, I am not complaining. The one re-release I can't wait for is a digitally remastering of Halo: Combat Evolved using the Reach engine.
This next game was one I waited for patiently all year. I really have no idea why this franchise has captured my imagination more than most and turned into upside-down. Every game will be a mindfuck, so to speak, and every game inches closer to the conclusion I crave. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood did some exceptionally well: as you were in the Animus, Rome behaved like I would expect it to. The one marvel about this franchise is how lifelike and realistic their cities are, how the people react, and amazingly how they can fit so much detail on to one disc. For the story, well, go play the first two games. There is no reason not to play this franchise, except maybe the occasional hiccup of the parkour system and the droning combat. The games still play amazingly well, even with so much emphasis on the war between the Templars and Assassins. The war will sadly some to a conclusion at some point and I don't want it to end but I still do. Like my reaction to the ending, these games are confusing and to gain the full impact of the ending of Brotherhood, you have to play through AC1 and 2. You'll thank me later.
Lastly, there was a game with epic beards released this year, but a different game had a different kind of epicness. Not a beard, but a character itself. Epic Mickey, the darkest Disney game to date, sees Mickey trapped in a transformed Disneyworld. With his magic paintbrush, he can create and erase anything from existence in his world. Quests are galore here, and moral choices made through the game will have a profound impact on the experience. Real Disney fans will notice a lot of homages to other classic characters. In the beginning, dozens of classic Mickey cartoons are mentioned - some of the scenes are directly from the cartoons themselves! This game is a necessity for any Disney fan and everyone that owns a Wii. The game sold really well, so we may see a sequel. I hope we see a sequel. We must see a sequel. And it was must be epic.
Part five is adjourned. Part six will be up probably later today, and I'll be talking about the different court cases going in the industry, the effect these cases have, and I'll delve into the business side of things as well - developer/publisher failures, games massively flopping and why, and all that fun stuff. Thanks for reading and I hope you guys go back and read the rest of my current series! I've been putting a lot of heart into this and I want to make it an annual event. So good on you all and keep reading!