Musings of a Gamer XVIII
1. Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box
There are so many reasons why I shouldn’t even consider buying the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box. For a start, it's a bit too white and with the exception of Final Fantasy XIV, I already own at least one copy of every game in the set. It overlooks one of the finest games in the series, Tactics, and I really don't want a Mog earring. It's too heavy to be posted and would require a complicated, three man operation to purchase and collect: Japanese credit card holder (wife), willing recipient in Japan (mother-in-law) and me (me). It also costs the best part of £300.
I almost never buy collector's editions, as they are usually stuffed with useless shite. With that in mind, I’m almost certain that buying this one would be a mistake, but what a glorious mistake. The franchise has long since gone pear but is still my favoured subject for gaming nostalgia; our relationship covers parts of three fruitful decades and I shudder to think how much I’ve spent on it over the years. If there was ever a series on which to splurge on an overpriced, celebratory box set then it’s definitely Final Fantasy. I have until midnight on the 30th September to make a decision, before Square Enix calls time, burns the design blueprints and murders the Chinese factory workers.
2. Bethesda & the PS3
As much as I have enjoyed Skyrim I'm pretty fed up with Bethesda's incompetence when developing for the PlayStation 3. From day one, the PS3 version has been hampered by glitches and slow-down and we have yet to receive the Dawnguard DLC, two and half months after the 360 release. Bethesda has not offered a release date and has since gone ahead with the second add-on, Hearthfire, on 360 and PC. A recent statement from the studio cast doubt on whether Dawnguard will ever appear, with Bethesda all but admitting that they are unsure whether it will ever run on the PS3.
Bethesda is in a difficult situation, but it is entirely their own fault. If they give us a broken add-on then they’ll come under fire for releasing yet another technically subpar product. If they take their time in fixing it, they will continue to draw the ire of a fan base that already feels thoroughly abandoned. Bethesda has an atrocious track record for releasing broken games, especially on the PS3, and hearing their excuses you'd think that the platform was brand new and unfamiliar. It's no use blaming the PS3 so late in the console cycle - you either have the ability to develop for the platform or you don't. Piss poor Bethesda, piss poor.
3. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroeseses
I made the mistake of jumping on Twitter mid-way through the Metal Gear 25th Anniversary special event, held in Tokyo midtown last week. Attendees tweeted of merchandise, a GREE mobile game, a film (here we go again) and Metal Gear Solid pants, and gave the impression that the show was wrapping up. I had decided that the event was a dud and left Twitter bitterly disappointed.
I returned later in the day to discover that I had jumped the gun, as Kojima had gone on to unveil the latest game in the series: Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. The trailer was cryptic, stylish and visually impressive - almost too good to be current gen. It would appear that this is another Big Boss game, moving us ever closer to the events of the first two Metal Gears, where father and son (Solid Snake) eventually meet as enemies. I love the idea of an open world MGS, though I could have done without the references to Peace Walker, a game that I didn't enjoy. Ground Zero(es) has me very excited for the future of the series and, if it is to appear exclusively on current generation machines, then chances are we won’t have to wait too long for it.
4. Going Digital
This week I was surprised to read rumours that NBA Live/Elite will be going digital-only with its next instalment. After a year's hiatus, and following a disastrous attempt to re-design and re-brand, the long running series is making a relatively low key return as a downloadable title. Once the king of basketball-sims but long since eclipsed by the 2K franchise, it would appear that EA is setting its sights lower this time around. I can see the reasoning behind this move, as it allows EA to trim the superfluous modes that bloat the 2K series and concentrate on the core mechanics of a basketball sim, while requiring far less investment for what is now a very risky venture. However, I'd imagine that a downloadable future was not the long term plan, and is more likely a reaction to lingering issues and a lack of consumer interest. I fear that a once great sporting series is about to expire with barely a whimper, leaving the basketball genre lacking the variety it deserves.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Call of Juarez is set to continue next year on PSN and Live, and that Gunslinger will go back to the series’ roots. 2009's Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood was an excellent game, one of the few to do the Wild West justice before Red Dead Redemption came along and showed us how it's really done. I was convinced that the appalling Cartel, with its present day drug dealers, Uzis and sunglasses indoors, had killed the series, but apparently not. I'm encouraged by Ubisoft's confidence in the brand and impressed that the developer has learned from its mistake, going back to the era that helped make Bound in Blood such an enjoyable game.
5. Present and Future Purchases
Tonight, Sleeping Dogs and Spec Ops: The Line both finally fell to around £20 each, quickly finding their way into my shopping basket. Unfortunately, the other game I’ve been watching, Dragon's Dogma, is still the price of a 16GB Vita memory card, which is at least tenner more than I’m willing to spend on ogre slaying and constant backtracking; it looks like Tokyo Jungle will be the only other new game I’ll be playing before the October-December rush.
I still haven’t quite figured out what’s happening during this year’s peak period, but a couple of pre-order discounts have me debating how best to attack the autumn rush. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (already convinced myself that it’s Burnout Paradise 2), Assassin's Creed III (free t-shirt), Resident Evil 6 (a new Resi still feels like a major event) Far Cry 3 (cautiously optimistic that it’ll be the best insanity shooter of 2012) and Black Ops 2 (the world will end if I don’t play a new CoD each November) are all in the running for the last of my pre-order coin. Of course, if I do end up buying the Final Fantasy Mega Box, then I’ll be forgoing all pre-orders and will spend the rest of the year playing Saturn games. Long easy right, maybe!