I Called It

Well everyone else is doing their end of the year round up, and I thought I’d join the fun. Of course I haven’t been around for a major part of the year, hell I don’t think I’ve had an active posting site for a week, but I have been around for the last year and instead of giving my best 10 or whatever else, I’d like to state a few predictions I’ve repeatedly made to anyone who would listen (I’ll do this here come next year) and see how I fared. I think you can guess by the title. I’m only going to do the ones I can remember off the top of my head.

Firstly, Too Human. We were shown demos and stage presentations of the game last E3, the 2007 one. After much delay it got released this year. When the presentation was showed I noticed to things. That I could barely tell what was going on the screen and that the movement and animations were severely choppy. Then I heard how everyone after that was so excited by what they were seeing. I was asking myself, “were we seeing the same game?” People explained that yes it was a preview build and there would be time to fix the code, yada yada yada. I still called it a pile of junk and a few other things, but I decided to keep this site family friendly. Come its release and I think I can safely say I called it. It may not have been for the problems I witnessed, but it failed just the same.

Next, The Force Unleashed. This one may be a little more controversial in calling bad, because some people like it, but honestly no one can deny the fact that it has some serious issues. The one I will mention being the entire Star Destroyer sequence. This is the first thing we saw about the game. You the character, bringing down a Star Destroyer down on a city. How do you screw something like that up into being not awesome? Once again I wasn’t impressed by what I was told and shown. It might have had something to do with me having little faith in the brand, but I did try the demo one that came out and I was still unimpressed and underwhelmed, mostly by the wildly gameplay.Next, and this one isn’t as big a call, Sonic Unleashed. Five words caused me to label fail. “He turns into a were-hog.” Excuse me, the problem with the fast dozen or so Sonic games is that they don’t focus on Sonic or what Sonic does best, run really fast. Mario still runs, jumps on mushroom people and collects stars and coins. Very little has changed from that basic formula, so why has Sonic added about a hundred characters (not an exaggeration, I look it up on wiki), gunplay, puzzle solving, box pushing and now God of War style combat. This was a foregone conclusion. Still nailed it though.

Next, Spore. Will Wright’s life simulator, his magnum opus. Patiently everyone waited for years to get a hold of it. And when it came out, the gaming community spoke a resounding meh. I said meh whenever I saw it. Three separate E3s and numerous other coverages. I recognized this wasn’t my game, but I’m wary of any game that if you bought it a week later than someone else could have their entire planet colonized. Also I felt the game was very disjointed as a whole. We were shown the creature phase and the space phase and didn’t seem like the same game. People said I just didn’t get it. Then they got their hands on it and realized neither did they.

Alone in the Dark. I was excited for this game. Not entirely true; I was excited by what this game could be if the developers decided to wipe their fingerprints off the game. Then I was excited when they were releasing a fixed version of the game for the PS3. Then I played the demo and I was reminded of the saying “polishing cr** just gives you shiny cr**.” It did indeed do everything it meant to do, but it didn’t fix the main problem, the story. A survival horror game needs a character they can sympathize with and story that seems real enough they can be scared of it. The game fails on both those counts.

So far I’ve called everything bad in my predictions. There is a connection between how I predict a game and what they show. Every time I see a game and find it lackluster or say that it’s going to be bad there is a common thread, in how it’s hyped. At first I thought the developers didn’t know how to hype their game properly, because there were plenty of times I just didn’t care in what they were showing. Then I realized that each time these previews were bad and then these games were bad was because they were showing off the best features of the game.Contrast this with how God of War was hyped. If I remember they said, “you are Kratos and you will go through numerous levels killing mythical Greek monsters before challenging and killing the god of war.” One sentence and you’ve given me plot, conflict, character and gameplay. That is how you do it right. for an example from this year, Fallout 3 was focused mainly on the Vats system that they added. Of course they also showed off the wasteland and the character of the game.

Yes, your fire in Alone in the Dark looks great, but what’s going on. Ok, you turn into a were-hog, but tell me about running fast instead. In the Too Human demonstration on both G4 and Gamespot the times they showed the screen were few and are between. I never saw any preview gameplay movies for it either. They are trying to hype a product, so they show off its best bits, but you may want to rethink your game if this is the best you have to offer.

On the flip side, however, is a game like Far Cry2. “See how great our fire physics are. If you have on bullet you can start a brush fire to take out your enemies.” Ok, but why should I care. In fact didn’t care until I read Ben Abraham’s account of it and brought the idea that it’s the Heart of Darkness of video games. Now I’m interested. I don’t care about your fire physics, tell me about the character’s decent into darkness because of the environment he’s chosen. Sometimes I don’t think developers grasp just what makes their game interesting.

I’ve rambled enough for now.

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