Growing up I was always into video games, I remember staying up all Saturday night at a buddies house playing games together RPGs, Action, Adventure, Shooters, all kinds and just having a blast. Now I look at the games industry and things have changed, for a bit I wondered if it was me, if my excitement for gaming has begun to dwindle as I grow older, having to work full time, raise kids, tend to a wife, and just live life gaming is something that most my friends have grown out of and I wonder if the same is happening to me. From the cradle to the grave I considered this my creed as a gamer but where is the passion, without the passion of the artist, how can we have passion as the spectator?
The visionaries of the industry have become the thing of folk lore within the gaming community, unfortunately we are seeing the birth of the new Hollywood, we have fewer and fewer big productions pushing the limits within their genres to help calm the fears of investors losing money. With so many hands in the pot and so much money floating around we are left with games that are watered down and mediocre, the sense of wonder, imagination, and depth has been thrown out the window in order to appeal to a broader public. Where are the games that would blow us away and suck us in, the characters that can move us to tears, the game mechanics that make us feel like masters of a domain that was conquered through blood sweat and tears, the art styles that beckon us to explore or just get lost in its beauty.
With the exception of a few rare gems this generation, games are beginning to have much less of an impact on me personally, I used to love everything the music, the characters, the stories and the art and defended gaming with a burning passion. I can count the games last gen that have been memorable for me.
Mass effect 3 Multiplayer stuck with me for its gameplay the story was ok up until the extended cut nipped a bit of the mystery behind the single player campaign. The idea of you playing a Shepard that was slowly succumbing to indoctrination was tantalizing, but after it was all confirmed that there was none of that it left me feeling just OK about the game. The Multiplayer is what saved the tittle for me, while only the same factions on the same levels, playing as different characters in so many different ways was great. I only wish it was just a little more in depth and hope that the new ME release builds on something that worked so great.
Borderlands 2 was pretty amazing when it came to story there was so much undertone and things that went said without ever being said that it always had me coming back and finding something new when I took the time to look. Unfortunately you can only play the same story so many times until you get bored of it, especially when skill begins to diminish as a factor of combat once enemies become ridiculously strong that you are forced to use cheap tactics or team up just to get by.
Dark Souls has become a new favorite and I am kicking myself for not giving this one a shot sooner, The idea of story telling takes a different route in where you are almost never given direction you are left to explore and discover your destiny as a character and piece together lore the you would otherwise never consider unless you actively seek it out. The combat is amazing-ly frustrating at times, but it never feels impossible it feels as though you could have always done something different. It is unforgiving but makes you feel so accomplished once it is learned.
These are some examples of games that do things right, of course not all of them as I am only going off of my own personal experience. But I have sat down and watched amazing lets play videos of the Last of Us, I feel developers are either forced by fear or investors when it comes to development of newer tittles, and once something is successful it is often beaten to death with multiple sequels, the beaten further. We as consumers support this in hopes that the next one will be the best one and look forward to the following one because we know it will be better, but this is getting further and further from the truth. This is where we begin to see watered down mechanics so that everyone can play, but this is killing series.
Ninja Gaiden which was known for its difficulty it was great to play especially once you mastered the combat system, it was never known for its story as a matter of fact the story is terrible but the gameplay was just too good and challenging but never cheap. Part 2 came and it was a bit easier but not too bad, Part 3 I anticipated heavily, but was crestfallen to see how they had butchered it in order to reach out to a bigger audience.
Final Fantasy is another series that has tried to do things to reach a wider audience and has become a bit of a joke with its corny cool dialogue and simplifying its combat system to where you don't have to do much of anything no planning or thinking because the game would choose the best options for you and to deviate from this was more harmful than rewarding.
Survival horror as a whole has almost completely become non existent with the exception of a few indie tittles, Silent Hill is laying bleeding, and I am checking Resident Evil for a pulse but I think its too far gone. These were my absolute favorites Silent Hill 2 impacted me in ways I didn't think a game could seeing humanity twisted in the way it was and piecing together the mystery while trying to stay alive was great, its terrible camera angles and bad combat only added to the experience often times adding to the horror because you realized how vulnerable your character was and often times it was better to run instead of staying and fighting. Resident Evil was great with its interesting lore and the idea in general was great, things went wrong terribly wrong with 4. While the game was a great game and exceptional game and one of my favorites, it just wasn't the same. It empowered the player way too much, you didn't have to be scared. The horror was gone and survival wasn't too hard part 5 only continued this trend only more so cause it was even easier and made you even more overpowered. Dead space the first was amazing and scared me in ways I hadn't been scared in a while, but again butchered. Now we have Outlast, Slender, Amnesia and a few others but all these are on a small scale and not very well known but maybe that's for the best.
There is a beacon of hope that comes in the shape of Indie games, but with the Indie scene only now becoming relevant and with how cluttered the market is its a bit too difficult to consider this a solution right now. Indie games are a good thing but often times only seen as filler until the next big tittle comes out. I hope things take a change but with the expanding cost of development I think things will only get worse.