Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Toxic Games Community. Is there any hope left for it?

Gamescom 2014 just happened and there's been a lot of anger over the Rise of the Tomb Raider going exclusively to Xbox One. That was yesterday. Today we found out that it's not really a true exclusive but a timed exclusive.

So in the past 24 hours, all I've been reading on Neogaf is just page after page of vitriol loaded posts. It's pretty upsetting. Personally, it doesn't bother me that ROTR is going to be exclusive to any platform at all. It's just one game. It's a great series, and we all know how iconic Lara Croft is. But still, the level of anger and the stuff people are saying online about it is kind of ridiculous. In the first place, if the game was fully exclusive to Xbox, it's not like Playstation owners don't have enough games to play anyway. They've got practically every multiplatform title coming for them, supposedly in full 1080p so they already get the best versions of everything. They've got Uncharted 4, which is probably going to be out at about the same time, and will be practically the same game (with the same level of respect and pedigree that it always gets)

So why are Playstation people so upset? Hell, I even saw PC people upset, which is really stupid, because usually anything Xbox exclusive is practically Windows exclusive, so if they exercised JUST a little bit of patience, I'm sure they will get the game eventually. At first I thought it was a bit funny to watch the rage but at some point it's just too much. I can't imagine being someone at the marketing departments of any game company or at Sony, Microsoft or *gasp* even Nintendo. The level of anger and hate they're getting on a daily basis, it must be tough to read that all day. And it's not even about something that important. It's Video Games, man. It's entertainment products. It's expensive, luxury items, hell it's about toys. But people were calling out Microsoft and calling them the Great Satan of our time for doing what is essentially a simple business decision.

There's nothing immoral or unethical about buying exclusivity for ROTR on the Xbox One. In fact, I'd say it was a smart move on Microsoft's part to help move consoles. They're clearly losing against the Playstation (though compared to Nintendo, they're doing just fine). So what's wrong with digging into those coffers and buying exclusivity? It's also a good move on the part of Crystal Dynamics. Tomb Raider, over time, has lost a bit of luster and is not really as big a deal as something like the Uncharted series. I think they wanted their series to get more attention by associating with a specific platform. In many cases, that does work. Look at how Gears of War blew up by associating with the Xbox. Originally that game could have come out on everything, but if it did that, I don't think it would have been as special as it turned out to be today. Also, focused development has its perks where a game developer doesn't have to make a game work on every platform available. One hardware for one game can make the game be the best it can be. Just look at Nintendo's exclusive games and how they all just surpass what is on the PS4 and Xbox One in terms of art style, polish and flair. Exclusivity does have its benefits.

I really don't see what's wrong with the whole ROTR exclusivity deal. This thing has been happening since time immemorial in this industry, and usually it doesn't really do that much damage when one game is on one platform and not another. I think, the worst that can happen to any major game console maker is to lose multiple third parties, like what is happening with Nintendo right now. Playstation losing Tomb Raider would not have caused much of a dent to that console's installed base.

But the level of anger on forums is insane. I read one theory that Microsoft was out to 'destroy console gaming' by doing this, which is a hell of a stretch. I read another one about how Microsoft doesn't care about gamers....well, maybe that is true, the truth is they only care about money. But that is true of all of them. That's the other thing I don't get. People think these developers do this because they 'care' about gamers. Well, the truth is, they are doing this to put food on the table. It's all about money and that isn't going to change anytime soon. It's just strange how some people associate games companies like their family members or like their 'friends'. They aren't your friends, guys. They're there to take your money. So treat them as such. Try to be objective about what these companies are doing. They're in business to make money. So instead of losing your cool and posting so much anger online (which you'll just share with everyone else and just make everyone feel miserable), the solution is simple: if you don't like something, don't buy it.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

RYSE: SON OF ROME - A worthy tribute to 300, Troy, and Gladiator

I got this game a few weeks ago and I'm really enjoying it. As a showcase for the Xbox One it definitely works; it demonstrates what 'next-gen' visuals should be all about. Great art direction, extremely sharp CG level graphics...this game is just beautiful. And it's a first gen game! Imagine how good Xbox One games will get after 2-3 years. It's mind boggling to think about after seeing this game.

The combat reminds me of old games like Golden Axe but with hyper-realistic graphics, great voice acting, sound effects and music. This game is a like a big tribute to major films like 300, Troy and Gladiator...it just has a lot of great moments that make you think back to those films, but---this game manages to have a character all its own. A lot of the action involves button mashing and good timing with QTEs...it just feels good to play. Maybe some would say it's repetitive because there are just a few enemy types but I don't know....have they played Double Dragon? Final Fight? Enemy types in those games are also repetitive and taking them out is always done the same way, but why didn't we complain about repetitiveness back then, and we're complaining about it now? I think the button mashing part --- it is gameplay, so long as you feel that the game gives you good feedback. Compare this game with something as mindless as, say, Dynasty Warriors. In that game, the enemies just literally stand in front of you while you turn them all into Chop Suey. In this one, the enemies fight back and they put up a good fight (perhaps i picked a higher than normal difficulty level, though....but still, I am really enjoying it and it never felt poorly balanced even with the higher setting). 

This game is pure entertainment, it's watching a film but really being a part of it, too. There isn't any story branches or decision making, but that's a different genre, this is all about action, action and more action. Maybe don't play it all in one night. Play one chapter a night and you will enjoy the experience. 

I read in the news that the developers of this are having rough times financially. Which is a real shame. It isn't their fault....actually the failure of Ryse in the marketplace is what is causing their financial woes, and that failure was really due to Microsoft bungling their launch last 2013. A lot of really good games (include Dead Rising, Forza and this one) were ignored by many gamers because many were really angry with Microsoft and their ridiculous DRM plans. Including me. 

I'm glad Don Mattrick is so fired. Ok, he resigned....but still, it's his damn fault that the Xbox brand is messed up right now.

Ryse could have been the new 'Gears of War' for Microsoft. As a first gen game this is far better than Kameo or Perfect Dark was for the 360 way back when. It's well polished for the genre that it's in, and it's really entertaining. I highly recommend this game to anyone considering an Xbox One.