CNN has a post up this morning about this Fall’s upcoming “must-play” lineup. I’ll spare you some of the pain there and tell you the five they’re mentioning:
- Halo: Reach
- Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Civilization V
- Medal of Honor
I”m experiencing a bit of indifference because for the first time in a long while, I don’t really want to play any of the games coming out in the very expensive, normally quite crowded holiday season. It’s actually kind of strange because I’ve been into video games for quite a while. I know that I’m experiencing some changes in my personal life with my attempt at heading back to school to finish up a BA degree soon but still… What is this?
Games represent a lot to me– aside from enjoying a (sometimes) interactive storyline, I enjoy playing them both for their rewards and their experience. My friends also play video games and so it’s common topic of conversation: “What are you playing this week?” “Did you try out (insert title here)?”. Often we talk about shared experiences of beating a tough boss or finding some cool new thing that we’ve never seen before. Unfortunately I find myself to be getting burnt out by the “sameness” of some of these titles.
Let’s take a look at that list again: 3 out of 5 of those titles have a colon in their title somewhere suggesting that instead of providing a number indicating the sequel’s position they decided to not tell you just which one this is in the series. All of the titles are sequels– this is Halo 5, Guitar Hero 5 or 6, Fallout 4, Civ 5, and Medal of Honor 5 or 6. Of these titles I’d say I’ve played all of their predecessors at least once, and some of them I really enjoyed. All of the titles seem to have had an inception somewhere around 2001 it seems as well aside from Fallout (which received a reboot a few years back), and Civ (which seems to go long stretches in between game variants anyway).
2001 was the start of the Xbox-PS2-GameCube race that apparently has moved the industry to where it is today: 3 large companies competing over the same market, and pumping out the same titles over and over. When did I suddenly start not liking the same stuff?
Some of it has to do with playing smart original titles that don’t necessarily fit any of the existing categories and surprising myself. A lot of these titles belong in the scene I’ve dubbed “Indie-cade“, sort a mash of Indie Arcade. These titles are often created and produced from one or two brains instead of a team of 30-100 people. One title that I recently finished, Limbo was done with 5 people including art, dev, music and production. That’s crazy and really cool at the same time. They’ve now sold over 300,000 copies on XBLA, which I hope means it paid for itself and are continuing their awesome sales run. Limbo itself has a very simple concept: get the main character through this side-scroller with one action button, and survive. There are booby traps, environmental puzzles, and occasionally an enemy or too that wants to kick your butt. The game took me about 6 hours of playtime and was well worth the $15 I think.
The art style is fantastic– very minimalist, black and white with some occasional twists thrown in. If I could hear the soundtrack over my “helicopter-taking-off-Gen1-X360-fan-noise”, I’d tell you it was creepy and effective. This title was unlike anything I’d played before and unlike the major-AAA titles coming out this Fall.
I picked up a MacBook Pro back in April, one of those snazzy i7, 17″ beasties that I love. Soon after, Valve released a MacOS Steam client and I started to play some more Indie-cade games on the Mac. Again, these titles don’t scream AAA but I found them to be more fun than sitting on my X360 playing shovelware. Torchlight is one of the standout dual-platform games I’ve found and enjoyed playing in-between tasks.
I’m wondering what I’ll by occupying my time with in the coming months– I’ve started a little game with myself to try some of the older titles I own but never really played a lot of. Maybe I’ll find some gems there, but certainly not coming out of a major publisher. Perhaps that’s ok.