Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Call of Duty Black Ops, can this mark the end of World War 2 shooters?

As many of you may know the next installment in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty Black Ops (aka COD 7) will have a modern setting which is pretty surprising since Treyarch is developing this game. Honestly I was pretty damn worried about Black Ops being another WWII game before it was officially unveiled to the public simply because Treyarch has only made WWII games in the past. The trailer that was released seemed pretty cool, they had an interesting little clip where it looked like helicopters will be vehicles that you can fly in the game. I am pretty sure many people can agree with me on the fact that WWII games a dead, the market for these games has already become saturated quite some time ago and that it only seems reasonable for developers to stop making them as frequently. So I was pretty happy to see that these developers got the message and started moving forward and trying something a little bit different for once.

Although I am glad that Black Ops will be in a modern setting I am afraid that Treyarch will do what they have done in the past and essentially copy and paste the previous game in the series which was done by Infinity Ward. I personally never really enjoyed any of the Call of Duty games done by Treyarch, but I disliked Call of Duty World at War (COD 5) the most. The reason for this dislike was a result of Treyarch pretty much copying Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare in terms of gameplay mechanics including the multiplayer component. The only major changes I noticed were the character models the addition of getting dogs for a kill streak (oh I hated those dogs with a passion) and the maps, which were pretty crappy maps in my eyes. What I am getting at is that I was pretty irked to see Treyarch release a game with little to no improvement from the previous game in the series. I know if it ain't broke don't fix it but Treyarch should have tried harder to make Call of Duty World at War their own.

Well my gut is telling me that Call of Duty Black Ops is is just going to be a re-skinned version of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (COD 6), but I have my fingers crossed and I am hoping that Treyarch for once will put a little originality and effort into their final product. On the bright side, I don't have to worry about fighting off those zombie Nazis anymore!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Step aside Crysis 2 here comes Killzone 3

So I was catching up on some gaming news last night and to my surprise, I learned the development of Killzone 3 is well underway. I was glad to hear that the guys at Guerrilla have taken some time to fix some of the issues that were present in the second installment in the Killzone series. To name a few, the clunky melee system is being refined and the game will have a lot more colour, due to the game have greatly varied landscapes such as jungles and snowy areas. I don't know if it's just me but I didn't have too much of a problem with the all the gray in Killzone 2, since the game itself was supposed to be dark and gritty I thought it was fine that the colour palette was aswell, but that's just me. I really did like Killzone 2 and I am glad to see that the developer is taking the initiative to improve upon an already great game. If anyone at Guerrilla games is reading this, I hope you guys include split screen co-op and multiplayer in Killzone 3 because in my eyes that was the biggest flaw in Killzone 2.

As you may know Crysis 2 is going to be a multi-platform games so it will be direct competition for Killzone 3 since they will both be on the Playstation 3. I am not sure when both games are launching but I feel that they will both be in direct competition regardless. This is the case simply because Crysis 2 and Killzone 3 probably will have some of the best visuals in a first person shooter or even in console games in general. Both games are visually stunning but I feel that Killzone 3 will have the upper hand. Although there is a possibility that Crysis 2 will have better visuals than Killzone 2 regarding the environments, I was very disappointed with the character models that were shown in the Crysis 2 trailer. They did not look as polished as the character models in Killzone 2, which means the character models and the environments Killzone 3 can look even better than they did in the second Killzone. But what I am sure about is Killzone 3 having an outstanding multi-player component because the multi-player in Killzone 2 was fun, very addictive and the class system worked pretty well (except for the times when everyone is spamming rockets) but I have no idea what the multi-player in Crysis 2 is going to be like. As of now, it seems like Killzone 3 might take the cake as the prettiest console game and have the better multi-player component but if that's the case I am sure Crysis 2 will be close behind. E3 is just around the corner, and I am very excited to see which one of these first person shooters can impress me the most and possibly get my $60 when it releases.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Project Natal, is this the future of gaming?

Since the Wii was released back in 2006, motion controls have become the "new craze" in the gaming industry and I believe the Wii helped make Microsoft's project Natal a more viable endeavor.

When Microsoft announced their mysterious project Natal I was very skeptical since I thought it would be another copy cat of the Wii's motion controls like the Playstation Move. But the more I learned about Natal, the more intriguing this project became. Then I thought to myself, could gaming really be done effectively without the use of some kind of controller but rather with the movements of the users body? Personally, I believe that people who have been playing console games for quite some time, me included would feel rather odd playing games without the need of a controller, it would be a very foreign gaming experience. Since I have not used Natal I am unsure if there would be some kind of learning curve, hopefully there isn't a steep one because that may deter some consumers, but hey I guess most games have some kind of learning curve anyway.

Well learning curves aside, the thing I am most worried about and I would expect many gamers to be concerned about as well is the fact that Microsoft may follow Nintendo's marketing strategy. What I mean by this is Microsoft creating a massive game library for Natal consisting mostly of "shovel ware". Basically, shovel ware are games that are pretty much meant for the casual gamer since they are mainly composed of relatively short and simple games which usually lack good stories (or stories all together) or really engaging gameplay and can be really low quality. Regarding the Wii, all its shovel ware was its biggest downfall since most of the games seemed like they were created solely to make a quick buck for the developers and that they lacked an entertaining gaming experience.

My prediction is if project Natal is not marketed to the average gamer but to the casual instead(which I think is very likely to happen), Microsoft will have its work cut of for them. The Wii has already been dominating the casual gaming market for a few years now, as a result Natal will seem like an imitation of the Wii to the average Joe. To be honest I would like to see Natal succeed and help move gaming forward since it is a pretty neat idea, but if they market it to the casual gamer, we will have another Zune on our hands.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What happened to the gaming industry?

I have been a gamer since the mid 90's and back then the gaming industry didn't seem as important in our society as it is today. I have just been thinking what happened to lead this industry to become hugely profitable and has made gaming a part of so many peoples lives.

My best guess is after the release of the Playstation 2, when its price point was fairly low; people started buying them like crazy. Also, by that time in the PS2's life cycle it had a massive game library, which catered to most people tastes in games. The combination of low price and a huge game library drew in gamers from many ages, children to adults. As a result the PS2 was a great success and had a ton of media exposure and in my opinion helped gaming become a larger part of pop culture. Now games are being advertised on TV very frequently and there TV shows geared solely towards gamers. I remember watching the news on the release day of Halo 3 or the day I waited in line to get my PS3 on launch day and the news was actually covering these events; before the success of the PS2 I doubt there would be as much news coverage on gaming and the gaming industry.

Ok, basically the PS2 attracted many gamers to buy Sony's console but in this generation of consoles something rather odd happen the release of the Wii. The success Wii really took me by surprise and I think many people probably feel the same way. When the Wii was first revealed it seemed like a huge gimmick with it's motion control and suffered from some arrested development with it's "past generation like" graphics, I was sure it would fail since it was clearly not up to par with the Xbox 360 and the PS3 . But to my surprise people were picking up the Wii's like hotcakes. I was indeed very puzzled, until I realized that the Wii was not really geared towards the "hardcore" gamers, but its purpose was to attract a new demographic, younger children and non-gamers. I feel the Wii got away with the sub par graphics, lack of HD and the lack of bells and whistles that the other consoles had because the target market of the Wii knew very little about gaming. The young children would get a Wii because they would see ads on TV containing games geared for their age group and tell their parents to get it for them. Since the children are young they may not fully understand all the differences between all 3 next generation consoles and chose the Wii only base on the ads they see. More importantly, I believe the success of the Wii mainly comes from the older (ie. parents and grandparents) non-gamers who are attracted to the the Wii. I think that these older non-gamers feel it will be fairly easy to pick up and play the Wii due to its simple "pick up and play" games and the motion controls which may seem intriguing and fun. Also, they may also feel that the Wii might be a nice addition to their home entertainment for those times when children are around so that the children can be occupied. One positive thing that the Wii has done for the gaming industry is introduce a vast amount of people to video games who never really had an interest in games.

All in all, I feel that the marketing strategy that Nintendo put together for the Wii was brilliant. I expect in this generation of game consoles and in the next other gaming companies will try to make their products create the "Wii effect" and become hugely popular, but will it come at the cost of sacrificing their "hardcore" gamers to attract non-gamers? Honestly, I believe if the Wii was geared towards "hardcore" gamers and not towards non-gamers and children, it would have little success since it lacks the thing that the other 2 next generation consoles have, great games.