Robert Chesley

Editorial: Why Didn’t E3 Excite Me?

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Yesterday, Jeff compiled a list of what all of us thought about E3 and what everyone is most excited about or interested in. When Jeff posed me the question this is what I gave as a response:

Here’s my thoughts on E3 and kind of the video gaming world in general. I don’t claim to be the most informed (although I am more informed than most) but the biggest disappointments to me is the constant “War Game Sequel” that we saw particularly at this year’s show. Oh great, another Halo and Call of Duty game. I’m not saying anything about the people who play these games or enjoy these games in general, but this generation more than ever we are seeing less and less big budget new games and more and more “iterations” on last year’s tech. I like FPS’s alright, I’m not big into multiplayer online gaming, but I enjoy playing a good shooter. But does the world really need another Halo game? or another Call of Duty game? Why does the gaming world feel a need to one up themselves every fall with basically the same game with a new paint job? I don’t mind games with similar mechanics but completely different stories. For example, I enjoy Grand Theft Auto 4 as well as Red Dead Redemption. The game engine is roughly the same, the game plays roughly the same, but I had a great time for different reasons in both games. I played Call of Duty Modern Warfare, do I need a 3rd go around? Especially since there is seemingly a new Call of Duty game every 3 months? I loved music games, in fact I would argue that Rock Band is one of my all time favorite games and one that I will probably continue to play at least into the near future. Activision killed the genre through saturation. Why does every game regardless of the genre feel the need to feel like an EA Sports title? I love NBA games, but they killed my interest by making me pay for a full priced title every year that is more often than not just a roster update. I’m tired of roster update gaming.

That being said, I’m woefully unimpressed by Wii U. Oh joy, yet another system that will just milk franchises that should have died by now. I’ll admit some of the tech of it is pretty cool. But I really haven’t the desire to play yet another cookie cutter Zelda or Mario game. And I love Zelda and Mario games. Personally, I was excited about Kinect. I want more games to implement the “voice controls” like Bioware showed during the Microsoft presser. That is what I want from gaming, I want to be an actor in an action movie. It looks incredibly fun. I’ve never been a fan of motion controls, so none of that really changes for me, but I’m interested in voice commands in RPGs.

Oh, I forgot to mention what I thought about Vita. I watched the trailer and from the moment I started watching I was like “OK, so launch titles? at least “Wipeout” and “Dynasty Warriors”. I’m really glad that Sony has stayed that predictable. I was honestly surprised to not see a God of War game in development, there probably is, I didn’t watch it to the end, when I saw the Dynasty Warriors pop up on the video I just laughed hysterically at myself and rolled on the floor the rest of the afternoon.

It didn’t really fit the style that Jeff was going for and he suggested that it could have been an entire blog post by itself, but I felt like I had more to say. Maybe it is due to the come and go nature of my own personal video game habits that I seem woefully disinterested in video game culture in general as of late. I talk about games all the time, I play at least a full retail title a month to completion, I spend a lot of money on the arcade and indie titles, I’ve even made a few fortes into the world of mobile phone gaming. This year, when watching the coverage of E3 I found myself completely lost.

As you can read by my knee-jerk response was that I seem very jaded. Am I just expecting the world out of every game that comes out? I’m not saying all of them have to be of extremely high quality or anything but why does it seem like the gaming industry is just treading water? One of my favorite games of the past few years is “Portal”. It was a breath of fresh air in a genre that is easily crowded by games that do roughly the same thing. I loved that you really didn’t “kill” anything with the gun they gave you. You just moved from room to room trying to escape an inescapable prison. The game rewards players who were thinkers rather than slumming to just brute force. This year we are granted with “Portal 2” a continuation of sorts to the original game. While I loved this game, it kind of made me sad for the industry in general. It seems there are 2 ways to go about making games these days, either you make a sequel to a popular franchise or you create something that you can inevitably turn into a popular franchise. I believe “Portal” (and to a lesser extent “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” ) did so well initially is that they weren’t the “norm”. They were the “new” kids on the block and people latched onto them. Now, we’re just given the burden of sequels and that to me was all that E3 was. A new “Wii” that I will never buy, a Sony portable that I will never buy, a Microsoft product I will never buy, and all the games were existing cash cows looking to turn a quick buck and an easy dollar.

I have no desire to play “Halo 4” or “Gears of War 3”, that isn’t to say I necessarily hate these titles or that they won’t be amazing games, I just want to see more new franchises pop up instead of the old stalwarts. Maybe my gaming habits have changed. I’ve moved more and more away from combat focused games to games that require a little bit more brain power. I realize that just comes with age (hey, I’m not that old) but I think a lot of it has got to be that I’m just woefully unimpressed with the state of video games these days. I don’t always keep the closest eye on them and everytime something gives me the glimmer of hope (I’m looking at you “Braid”, “Trine”, and the immeasurable fun “Castle Crashers”) it seems they are dashed within the blink of an eye by Activision’s “Call of Duty” monster.

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