Gaming Wishes for 2012
With the New Year in full swing, now is a good a time as any to look forward with some gaming wishes for the year ahead. Just like last year, these are most definitely not predictions - they are the ravings of a rabid gamer who only has an hour to cobble together a blog post.
Next Gen Desirables
The Wii U is coming this year, and rumours continue to circulate that the next Xbox and the PS4 will be unveiled at E3 (Sony have denied it and Microsoft have thus far kept stum). I hope we do hear from both parties, as it will make for a truly memorable E3. However, I would like to see both companies hold off on releasing their next generation hardware until late 2013 or early 2014, though I think Sony do need to be wary of launching significantly later than Microsoft, as it proved costly with the PS3 and 360.
I'm looking forward to hearing more about the Wii U, and in particular the software which Nintendo have so far been very quiet about. As for the Nextbox and PS4, my two wishes are for backward compatibility and region free gaming. I'm tired of having to swap out cables and dust off old consoles and don't want to have to rely on fan-made compatibility lists to find out if a Japanese game will work on a European console, and vice versa. I’m not sure if I'll get my wish - this generation has been a mixed bag on both fronts - but we can but hope.
My mind does tend to wander when showering. Yesterday’s topic of conversation (with myself) was the possibility of a Shenmue revival. By the time I’d rinsed the final suds from my hair, I had concluded that PSN, Live and Steam would be the ideal platforms for bringing closure to Shenmue. I’d love to see SEGA issue HD remakes of the first two games; Shenmue would drop this summer and could headline the seasonal campaigns on Sony, Microsoft and Valve’s stores, with part two following at Christmas.
Presuming these re-issues are a success, Shenmue 3 could follow at some point in 2013. Series creator Yu Suzuki still sounds well up for it - he mentioned in a recent interview that he could (technically) procure the licence from SEGA if they choose not to make use of it – and he has already scripted the final parts of the trilogy. If this were to happen, I think it would be best served as a downloadable title, released across three or four chapters. This would limit the risks involved and make it clear that it isn't intended as a blockbuster on the level of the first two games, which would make it far more palatable to risk adverse publishers.
So that's the blueprint and now it’s just up to SEGA to make it happen. Next up in Matt’s shower plans: building a cyborg unicorn from the tears of Peter Molyneux.
A New Franchise That Will Endure
Following last year's glut of sequels and lack of new IPs, I have been wondering where the next Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Mario etc. will come from. Is it even possible these days, where familiarity sells and innovation is a dirty word, for a fresh, new IP to gain the kind of traction needed to hang with the established elite? With the possible exception of Uncharted and Mass Effect - neither of which I'd call a true, mainstream blockbuster - I'd struggle to think of any other series born of this generation that I expect to live on for countless more. Will the legacy of this gen be that of impressive, forward thinking hardware supporting a catalogue of backward looking, though entertaining software? Plenty of big studios are currently working on as-yet-unannounced games, so let us hope at least one of them will be something entirely new, something that will come to define the final days of the seventh generation, and not just a better version of what came before.
Monkeys, Motorbikes and Gabe
Not to contradict my desire for new intellectual properties, but I'd like to order up a new TimeSplitters, Road Rash and Syphon Filter. Who says we gamers are confused?! There was a time last summer where we appeared to be on the verge of getting a new TimeSplitters, but the promise of a new entry quickly fizzled, replaced by news of a next generation rebirth. I would love to see the Road Rash franchise handed to Criterion, who would hopefully transfer it to a Burnout-esque open world where crowbar battery is only a set of traffic lights away. Finally, I think it’s been far too long since we last had a console Syphon Filter. The first three games were a big hit on the original PlayStation and its smooth and entertaining action, and propensity for going a bit James Bond, would make for a great end-of-an-era hit.
Something to Rock the Boat
a. A game or app that makes me think “yes, this is why we need Kinect/Move”
b. SEGA trump the big three at E3 by unveiling the Game Gear 3D (that’s three threes)
c. Assassin’s Creed takes the year off
d. At least one Western RPG, announced this year, manages to resist the urge to ape Skyrim
e. The Presidents of Nintendo and Sony are forced to battle to the death in the Capcom Thunderdome, all for the exclusive rights to Monster Hunter
f. 8/10 becomes the new 9
g. We stop caring about anything out of ten
What are you hoping for this year?