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When gaming respected you: a pseudo-rant

I finished Dead Space 2 on the PC a few weeks ago. I would have finished it sooner, but I was playing this in tandem with The Witcher, which is now easily in my “Games You Should Play Before You Die” list. Other games in this list include Final Fantasy VII (or III if you have the Japanese version), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Baldur’s Gate, Deus Ex, and Chrono Trigger. I digress.

The former is sci-fi horror, the latter fantasy role playing. Both have won numerous accolades: the former for its gore (see video above) and the latter a “2007 Game of the Year” award (to be fair, The Witcher is based on a rich series of books-turned movie by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski).

As I browse through the catalogue of upcoming games, online reviews and YouTube walkthroughs, I can’t help but agree with a common observation from old school gamers such as myself who grew up playing text-input adventure games such as Police Quest and Zack McKraken: we’ve been dominated with too many first person shooters — dominated to such an extent that the gaming industry demands shorter developing times, thus dumbing down the total single player experience and making up for it with online multiplayer. Case in point:

In the video above, we go through the COD: Black Ops stage on HARDENED difficulty without firing a single bullet. HUGE REALIZATION: You think you’re being challenged but you’re actually in one huge cinematic. You’re being taken for a ride. The industry think you’re stupid.

In the video below, Tbiscuit demonstrates a similar rant with the single player version of Homefront.

I have nothing against the genre per se. In fact, games like Call of Duty, the ‘Battlefield’ franchise and Bulletstorm (“Dick!”) have really helped the industry further mature. OK maybe not Bulletstorm. But my point remains.

I just got my copy of Dragon Age II. Part I (Dragon Age: Origins) did really well: it brought back the roots of what made gaming respectable: an award winning story, a lot of customization, strategy. The list goes on. The game respected the player and you could really immerse yourself in what seemed like a real world. With today’s shooters, well .. it’s almost like the same thing over and over again: watch cinematic, aim down sight, kill the enemy, get hit, hide behind a box while you regenerate to full life … if you play these games, you know the drill. Dragon Age II was weighed in to be a rushed job, dumbed down, combat-centric work of art. It speaks of the industry.

Somehow I get the feeling that the mainstream gaming industry has been bitten by the sad realities of business models that rely on faster release dates, half-hearted sequels, “promo items” and “special editions” which in truth don’t add much value to gaming at all. In truth, the now big publishers may not even know what gamers really want anymore.

I don’t know. I’m probably ranting. But I do state my case that when games that aren’t like Modern Warfare are released, I take a keener interest: And yeah, Dead Space 2 — I enjoyed the gore and the horror.