Musings of a Gamer XI
1. Video Game Awards
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance aside, there were a number of other interesting developments at this year's VGAs, the most enticing of which was The Last of Us. The pre-show cryptic teasers only revealed zombies (insert snarky comment) and a post-apocalyptic setting (insert something witty and derogatory); not exactly the most innovative or stimulating of combinations, as its existence had already slipped my mind come the VGA weekend.
Although I am still concerned about the unimaginative setting, I was intrigued by the trailer and very pleased to see that this will be a Naughty Dog game. I had been hoping that ND would shift their significant talents to a new IP and save their next instalment of Uncharted for the next generation, which is now looking like a strong possibility. I am also rather impressed that they managed to keep this game so tightly under wraps, and if anyone can make zombie survival interesting again, then it’s Naughty Dog.
There was also a shiny new trailer for Alan Wake's American Nightmare, a downloadable follow-up to my favourite 360 exclusive. Rainbow Six: Patriots had a short and punchy trailer, whereas ninety seconds of Hitman Absolution was enough for me to conclude that this will be a rather uninspired sequel. There was also something about a hawk on a skateboard, but I can't tell you more than that, as the mere mention of skating causes me to instantly turn off and start thinking about something slightly less rad.
Just out of interest, does anyone recall who the winners were last weekend? Although I may be well versed in the trailer reveals, I couldn’t name a single winner even if my life depended on it. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the VGA's were merely a platform for new announcements and trailers, which is quickly becoming its reason for being. Perhaps it is time that the industry got a more widely and internationally recognized award ceremony, preferably one that doesn't involve Charlie Sheen and where the attendees make an effort to change out of their ill-fitting t-shirts and combats.
2. Games on the Go
Skyrim will be my go-to title until at least Christmas, when a shit-ton of games should be arriving. Skyrim is getting my (near) undivided attention now that my annual infatuation with Call of Duty has passed, as I have shelved Modern Warfare 3. After an evening of fragging last Friday, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t really enjoying the multiplayer anymore. This usually happens far quicker, but this year I kept going until level 61 – a good fifteen levels higher than past instalments. Though I’m now burned-out on MW3, I do think it is the best overall package of the series and is an excellent example of how to keep a successful franchise moving forward without having to resort to a drastic overhaul. See my full MW3 review for all the details.
To break-up my Skyrimming, I have been dipping in and out of Super Meat Boy. It is a neat little game and perfect for fifteen minute sessions, as it balances fast platforming with punishing obstacles. I also downloaded Payday: The Heist thanks to a 50% discount as part of the PSN Christmas deals. I’m yet to properly get stuck in, but I have been impressed by what I have seen thus far. In a piss poor year for new games on PSN, it could be one of the best DL titles of 2011. I do still have my eye on Pixeljunk Sidescroller, though it may have to wait until next year.
3. A PSN Update
Not really sure why, but I have a lot to say about this week’s PSN update (the UK version, but I think it’s pretty similar to the US). Firstly, I was happy to see Fear Effect making an appearance as a PSOne classic. I have written about it before so I won’t go into the details here, only to say that it is one of my favourite and most memorable action games on the original PS. I also jumped at the chance to try the demo for Sonic CD. It is one of the few classic Sonic games that I haven't played, thanks to the cost of a Mega CD back in the day and the fact that it seems to have been left off every Sonic compilation since. I have to say that I was rather impressed by the very short demo; from the well-made intro movie to the smooth gameplay and catchy soundtrack, it looks to be a steal, and I would’ve bought it right away if Sonic Generations wasn’t already sitting under our Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, it isn't all fun and games this week on PSN. I continue to be left dumbstruck by the comic pricing for full, downloadable games that are otherwise available at retail. Who on earth is going to buy Alice –Madness Returns or Need For Speed The Run for £50 ($78) when they can be bought for a fraction of that elsewhere. This ignorance in pricing is of great concern when digital games are expected to be such a huge part of the VITA's future, and Sony will have more power than ever when it comes to dictating price points.
The other thing that got my goat is the recent influx of tasteless crap that constitutes the ever increasing library of non-gaming, dynamic themes. I can't believe that anyone actually buys rubbish like a sexy elf or a Christmas candle to adorn their XMB. As I scroll through the weekly updates, I become increasingly vexed by this deluge of visual wank and my disdain grows for the people I imagine getting excited for this tat.
4. Is PS VITA a Sinking Ship?
The big day is almost upon us. Japan is gearing up for the release of Sony's next generation portable, the VITA, as queues are forming outside of electronic stores in preparation for tomorrow’s festivities. Unfortunately for Sony, it hasn't been the most fortuitous of weeks. Aside from the backlash stemming from the price of memory cards and the limitations and cost of the UMD programme, the 3DS, and more specifically Capcom's Monster Hunter 3G, have hogged all the headlines in what was to be VITA's big week. The 3DS exclusive caused the portable to have its biggest week at retail at the most opportune of times. To top it all off, Sony suffered a PR nightmare and a rather bad omen when a ship named after the console capsized during a cross Atlantic race. Sinking ships and all that.
The Vita is still headed for a big weekend, bolstered by a solid launch day line-up, though I'm still unsure of how it will fair in the long run. I'm toying with the idea of getting one in 2012, but it will all come down to the quality of the software, as my lust for new tech only stretches so far.