Now that the formalities of Playstation and Xbox’s announcements are behind us, we can do what internet scavengers do best- pick everything apart until we hit the bone. Now, we could spend the next five to ten years arguing over which console is better, because fanboys love a good bullshit like that, but we’ll ultimately reach the same conclusion that we always reach. My favourite is better than your’s… nah, nah, nanah, nah. However, these big announcements that were aimed towards shaking the world but instead barely shuffled enough to stir a good cup of coffee, managed to throw down a bunch of bullshit buzz words like “emotion”, “TV”, “together”, “social experience”, “the future” but somehow missed something that I see as crucial to gaming as a whole. That something is new games.
Of course, what would a Ninty console be without Mario, eh? It’s almost necessary that we‘d see a new Mario title, but it wasn’t coupled with any exciting games to support it. It packed Assassin’s Creed III soon afterwards, along with Batman Arkham City and Tekken Tag Team Tournament 2. Now I’m not saying that any of these are bad games. Batman: AC is nothing short of phenomenal on Xbox360, so I’d imagine it’s equally good here. Tekken’s latest Tag game is good fun too, and Assassin’s Creed is a damn strong series. However, each of these are sequels, rehashes, or corporate dollar grabbers.
Fast forward a few months and we see Playstation announcing their runner in the next gen race- the imaginatively named Playstation 4. This Playstation, as you may have guessed by the number in it’s title, is to be the successor to the Playstation 3’s throne. With enough power to operate a small village, the PS4 was pretty much Sony’s way of saying “Move over, Nintendo. Daddy’s home!”. During the reveal event, and much ado about fuck all, some games where finally announced. We were informed that we would be seeing a new Killzone title along with another Infamous game. We were also told that Playstation 4 would become a new home for Diablo III. Again, it was hard not to notice the barrage of sequels being thrown our way.
Finally, the impatient we-can‘t-wait-another-three-weeks-for-E3 competitors rear their green tinted heads to let the planet know all about the new Xbox; known as Xbox One. Again you can tell by the number following the title that this console is set to be the follow up to… Hang on a second. Those tricky bastards and their lack of mathematics!
The Xbox One seems to be a strong console. It’s graphical output looks nothing short of stunning, as the presenters of the reveal show gave viewers a rundown of side by side screenshots to compare this new Xbox to the Xbox360. Somewhere in the midst of PR bullshittery about sports and TV somebody mentioned the uncommon concept of playing video games on the machine. Games like Fifa 13, Madden NFL 25, and Call of Duty: Ghosts. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Microsoft obviously failed math class horribly, these games are indeed sequels.
There’s just something entirely uninspiring about a future than appears to be spitting out nothing but sequels to games we’ve all played before. Yearly editions really piss me off. Does the world really need a new Fifa? Really?? This will be the 21st Fifa game to be released consecutively since the mid 90’s… And I’m not even including the Fifa World Cup series, Fifa Euro series or even the fucking Fifa Street series! Yet this is one of the titles they’ve concentrated on to get me psyched up for the next wave of gaming goodness. This is supposed to be the pinnacle of video gaming, to make me want to cough up a few hundred quid on a fresh new console.
Let’s talk some more numbers then. Call of Duty: Ghosts is technically Call of Duty 10. The upcoming Assassin’s Creed game, which is calling itself Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, is straight up lying to you. It’s actually the sixth game in the series. Never trust an assassin. Grand Theft Auto V will be number seven. Number nine if you include Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. Killzone: Shadows Fall is Killzone 4, and Madden 25 is… Well who gives a fuck about Madden anyways?
The point is that sequels to currently existing IPs are hugely overshadowing the fresh, new ideas. They seem to be dominating the market, not because they are better than other titles, but because they have a larger number following their names. Don’t get me wrong here, I like sequels. I do. They can lead to amazing stories that may not have been possible to tell in a single game. They give the developers at chance to improve the gameplay, and learn from their mistakes. They give your favourite characters exciting new moves, weapons, and strategies for the gamer to mess around with, and usually a larger world in which to play. But I do not like it when sequels come at the expense of original games. Why would a regular teenage lad blow fifty quid on a new game when he could throw it down on the latest Fifa to ensure that he can simply repeat the fun he had with the last one, except now with the latest jerseys? Most people don’t have a whole lot of fifties to spend on games, so they instinctively buy what they are familiar with. Last year’s CoD was fun; fifty+ bones says this year's will be too. This attitude, and more so the corporate machine which feeds it, is shooting the video games industry in the foot. It’s making new, original games look like a death trap, both for the players and for those creating it. It’s risky business because new IPs simply simply can't do battle with EA powerhouses like Madden NFL.
This excitement is still there in spades, but unfortunately not often enough. I was pretty much convinced to buy Darksiders as soon as I saw the trailer. An action/adventure game where you play as a horseman of the apocalypse, fighting demon and angel alike to in a bloody vendetta to discover who betrayed you. Where the fuck do I sign? Bayonetta’s demo sickened me to my very core because I played it late at night and knew that I’d have to wait 'till morning to buy it. It was a demented hack ‘n’ slash title which made Devil May Cry look like a leisurely stroll in the park. You played as a witch who could make torture devices materialise from mid-air while beating down her foes with a flurry punches and kicks with pistols attached to her stilettos. If that wasn’t enticing enough, she could also force her hair to take the form of a dragon to devour her enemies! Seriously, that paper that you want me to sign- where the fuck is it?
New experiences are something that I crave in video games. Something new and exciting, something that I could never have imagined until I saw it. But unfortunately, this seems to be on the decline, in exchange for more of the same. With this torrent of sequels coming out the ass of the video game industry, it seems to have thrown everything into a pit of mediocrity. A melting pot of chest-high walls, annual sports releases and rinse/repeat military shooters seems to be producing the same game over and over while claiming it’s shiny and new. Unfortunately, this seems to be the main thing that the generation that’s now on the horizon has to offer us. There has been mention that Xbox will be supplying eight new IPs somewhere in the midst of the jungle of Gears of War and Halo titles it’s bound to announce soon enough. Playstation also promise us Knack, which looks like a platformer of some description. In these games there is hope, but they should be leading us into a new generation with pride and promise, instead of being forced to the back by practicability in it’s rawest form.