Thursday, 10 October 2013

Am I to believe the mainstream press?


Another opinion piece incoming! Yep, with the release of Beyond (Yeah Ive been looking forward to it for ages, big whoop) theres been an influx of reviews on all manner of mainstream gaming websites. Nothing new there. The scores also vary wildly, PushSquares 8/10 seeming to buck the trend and offer a genuine opinion on the title, which is to be expected when you consider its a Quantic Dreams title. Whats baffling is that a fair amount of reviews have expressed negativity at the fact it doesn't play like your average game and have marked it down accordingly. Can this be how the industry is nowadays? With people wanting different experiences who get what they desire and then lambaste it for being different?
 "There are days where the gaming community disappoints me, and this has been one."
Ginko, PushSquare.

I can't help but agree with this statement in light of recent developments concerning Beyond. With most reviews & gamers opinions the message that comes across is the same. Beyond is not a game. Really? Because I know when I put the disk in the Ps3 and boot it up, I'm going to be playing a game. While the interactivity in Quantic Dreams games has always been small, it still presents itself as a game with certain basic mechanics. You go from objective to objective, regardless of the amount of interaction, furthering the story when you complete certain goals. Sound familiar? Yeah, it sounds just like a GAME! While gameplay is kept to a simple level, its still there and serves as a way to interact with the world that the story you are playing through is based in. Quantic Dreams decided to focus on creating a compelling narrative to engross the player in, which is a far cry from most developers who choose to bury the player in activities/missions. The simple gameplay apparent in Beyond does not instantly warrant the removal of a titles 'game' status. It really doesn't. By that logic - Pong, whose TV video game systems spawned the subsequent console generations all those years ago, is not a game. All you do is move a line up & down the side of the screen to bounce a ball left & right. Only need 2 buttons for that! Far too simple to be a game! Hell, the entire catalogue for the Atari 2600 ain't games either because all you use is a joystick and a single button! Please. Grow up and use those higher brain functions. Theres a reason the mainstream gaming press should be avoided. So should Beyond be ridiculed for choosing to emphasise story over boring (for me) open worlds and the pumping of thousands of rounds into the same damn Russian terrorists? No. Its just a different type of game.
Its odd in that the game is vilified so much for being different. That's nothing new to me in that its different, I play niche games a lot so I'm always playing stuff that's a bit left-field of the mainstream, but its odd when you always read from people that games are becoming too samey. I say odd but I mean amusing. In a point & laugh kinda way. Ya see, recently GTA5 released and broke all kinds of sales records n netted Rockstar billions of $'s. The mainstream press couldn't wait to shower it with perfect scores either. Whats amusing is that, in essence, its the same damn game as GTA3! Bu bu bu but you can play tennis! Exactly. Whenever I speak to people about the game, I'm never told how engrossing the story is or how well developed its gameplay is, I'm always told about how much stuff you can do in the game. The way I see it, all the added activities serve to distract the player from the fact they are playing a game from 2001 with only minute changes due to Rockstars stubbornness. Its not just GTA either. Most FPS games, most recent being Battlefield 4, are tending to be drawn to a CoD style system of 60 frames per second & twitch aiming on consoles to appease the mainstream. How many TPS games do we have these days that utilise that damn cover system? Remember when you used to lean around corners instead!? So while games that are genuinely different in style or gameplay are constantly brushed under the carpet for titles that pigeon-hole themselves within the same mechanics, I'm left thinking - Why? Why in an industry that keeps crying out for new experiences & innovation, games that never buck the trend and adhere to the same gameplay mechanics flourish? Gamers have only themselves to blame. If you buy it, they will keep making it. Nothing will ever change.
I recently finished Yakuza 3. I'm mentioning it due to it seeming to be the only game of note these past few years that has been able to marry traditional gameplay mechanics with an engrossing story. While Beyond forgoes complex gameplay for an engrossing experience, Yakuza 3 has both. Chapter 11 is possibly the greatest section of a game this generation. Its an emotional rollercoaster that concludes in the most epic & satisfying way possible. #Spoiler# The willpower needed to hold back the man-tears when the orphanage is destroyed, Rikiya's death &  Mine's sacrifice at the end play out #, show that games can make you feel more than just anger & frustration. The problem is that games like Yakuza 3 that manage both gameplay and narrative are so few. An engrossing narrative is important to me. If I'm engrossed by the story it allows me to overlook little flaws in a game and enjoy it more. With games becoming more open, I fear a decent story will become less of a concern for developers. Its a shame. At the end of the day - Beyond will no doubt have its flaws, I'm sure the gameplay will be basic too, but in spite of what the mainstream gaming press would have you believe, it is still very much a game. How people can dispute this the latest of a long line of travesties in mainstream gaming.

* I may post a short review onto the blog for Beyond next week. It'll get a fair crack of the whip here! Till then, take a look at PushSquares review as its probably the most level-headed one you'll find if the game interests you. (LINK)

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