Wednesday, June 9, 2010

RAPID FIRE RANT - On E3 and Pointless Commercialism

Each Rapid Fire Rant allows a writer to vent their spleen on a certain topic relating to gaming. Leave your thin skins at the door.

Gamers, let's talk about what E3 has become.

In days gone by, E3 was a gaming mecca. Even up to three or four years ago, I still would have happily committed non-violent felonies to get a ticket. So, what has changed? The games, that's fucking what. I no longer look forward to E3 any more, I dread it, as I dread Christmas. Let's look as some possible candidates from this year

 - Max Payne 3: I have no doubts that this waste of space will be trotted out yet again this year.Considering that the...drastic... changes to the franchise announced last year left me less than fucking pleased. What's that? You want something quantifiable as to why I hate this game so much? Well, I'll cover my main beef with this game.

 The original creator of the Max Payne series, Sam Lake, isn't involved. Just like the equally shitty movie. The original two games were not only gritty noir, but also very touching. In true Noir fashion, this man had lost everything, and just wanted to cause as much collateral damage to those responsible on his way out as possible. His pain was real, and palpable. The game didn't chastise you, it spoke to you on a level playing field, and didn't pull out any punches. I can guarantee you that the memory of the first two movies will be shat on by Rockstar, just to make a quick buck. Just. Like. The. Fucking. Movie.

The rest of my "kill" list on this one: The environment has completely changed, plus as it's going to be on the PS Triple and Fail-Box 360, you can be assured that there will be insta-kill combos and a fucking cover system. It seems like some kind of sick joke that a game which had an innovative feature copied infinite times will now be killed by once-innovative features which have been copied infinite times.

 - Deus Ex 3: I barely know where to begin here, so I'll hit you with the basics: The games original creators, Warren Spector and Harvey Smith, aren't involved (are we beginning to see a pattern start to develop?). Secondly, the game seems to little to no relation to the original games. What song do we sing, children? Health regen, cover system, third person insta-kill combos. What makes me even madder is that the cover system replaces the old shadow-based stealth system. You may think I'm over reacting, here. Okay, fair enough. Consider this, though: DE3 was announced in 2007. It's three years later, and the game is due to be released next year. At time of writing, Eidos have only been talking about the game play. No actual videos of the game play have come out, yet - only pre-rendered expositionals which remind me of so many bad movie trailers. Doesn't that make you just a little skeptical about this game?

If you haven't played either of these series, I urge you to. Deus Ex and Max Payne 1 and 2 are examples of how games are a valuable form of media in present society. They tell stories which are wholly fictional, but communicate with us in real and meaningful ways. I hope that my rage is now self-explanatory.

I think my point is this: These two franchises have a palpable legacy. Their stories have been told, as best they can be. What point is there is starting them up again, other than to make some fucking fat cats bank account expand. Don't get me wrong - this is an industry, and people are out to make money. I completely understand that. I just wish that they'd do it by furthering the medium, or creating new legacies rather than defacing old ones.

This is a trend which isn't isolated to the Games Development industry. Film, TV, and even print media also seem to be stuck in this cycle. It's what happens when non-creative types are allowed to run the show.

The final part of this rather long and unconventional rant is directed at the established game media: I offer you all a challenge. The lead-up coverage of this E3 has been mainly hype. You all still seem to be excited about the offerings made by these bloated fuckers, looking at destroying the contents of our back pockets. I put it to you all, that you have become bloated and biased. You have become CNN, you have become FOX News. You are so unwilling to say what you really fucking feel about E3, and it disappoints me. If you feed the market bullshit, it will only ever expect bullshit.

Karl is a highly opinionated host and reporter for the Rapid Fire Podcast. He is currently attending Uni, and working towards his lifetime dream of becoming a Games Developer. He'd rather be heard than paid.

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes E3, the magnet for attracting half finished, overly polished demos that look pretty, and demonstrate almost everything available in the game in a time space of five minutes. Which probably explains why most games these days can be finished in two hours, of which most is a repetition of the first five minutes.

    Also, money is the exact reason why they are restarting those series with new chapters. Games developers these days are truly stuck in the cycle of 'We can't come up with anything original, or anything that isn't a rehash of an old idea'. So they get an old game, put new graphics on it, and then sell it for full price, possible additions being summed up by: New Maps, New Characters/Races, New Weapons, New Vehicles, New Graphics and probably some halfbaked multiplayer. Mmm, half-baked multiplayer, where whoever chooses the most broken rehash of an poorly balanced weapon wins. I swear these days its easier to find an honest politician than a long term sequel thats worth the price of the CD its encoded onto. Admittedly this cycle was probably stolen from car manufacturers, where they release a new car with X features, come back two years later, add Y new features and change the headlights. Two more years and we now have a 'new' vehicle with the same name, the same features as the previous model in Y form, but new graphics, I mean looks.

    Originality is a dying concept to humanity.

    Just look at RTS games, almost everything prior to Dawn of War, was the same mish mash of redone Dune gameplay, with the exception of Homeworld which gave us a third dimension (which to my knowledge has only been seen again in Homeworld 2 and Homeworld Cataclysm), except with different graphics and different numbers working out which animated sprite beat the crap out of the other animated sprite. Dawn of War comes out and now everything is the same strategic points resource model, which is all well and good, but sucks for anyone that likes variety more than 'Mmm, what sauce do I want today, Tomato, Catsup or Ketchup'. What sauce do I want? 'Barbeque, you frickin' game developers'.