Sad news: the house that built Bioshock’s Rapture and Bioshock Infinite’s Columbia is shutting down. Per Ken Levine: “I am winding down Irrational Games as you know it.” He’s starting a new venture with Take-Two, keeping only about 15 employees, while BioShock changes hands to Take-Two.
Even though this current generation of video game consoles isn’t wrapping up for at least another year, the new generation looms over the horizon. And thus, this warrants a look back at our recent past to honor the best of new franchises we were introduced to this gen. The list is based mainly on what franchises I found to be most compelling over the years. These opinions belong solely to me, but please feel free to list your own in the comments!
First, the games that didn’t make the cut. There are some awesome games here, but they just didn’t move me enough to make the list. All of them are still fantastic, though.
Honorable Mentions: Assassin’s Creed, Demon/Dark Souls, Gears of War, Saint’s Row, LittleBigPlanet, Borderlands Continue reading Top Six: Franchises of the Current Generation
Some of the other writers here at GamerSushi may fall into the category of gamers who would agree that developers “just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” With plenty of respectably aging gamers out there who grew up on games that made today’s “Veteran” difficulty look like child’s play, it’s no wonder a change was bound to happen. The crew over at Irrational Games, makers of the BioShock series, is introducing a new level of difficulty in BioShock Infinite with “1999 Mode.” This mode is designed to “challenge players in a variety of ways – each requiring substantial commitment and skill development.” But what does this mean exactly?
I’m an old school gamer. We wanted to make sure we were taking into account the play styles of gamers like me. So we went straight to the horse’s mouth by asking them, on our website, a series of questions about how they play our games. 94.6 percent of respondents indicated that upgrade choices enhanced their BioShock gameplay experience; however, 56.8 percent indicated that being required to make permanent decisions about their character would have made the game even better.” – Kevin Levine, Creative Director
The idea behind 1999 Mode is to make players think much harder about the decisions they make while playing the game. Gone will be the day of rushing in like Rambo without thinking. Players will have to deal with each and every one of their choices – sometimes permanently. This new game mode will also force the player to pick specializations and focus on them. The new mode will also have “demanding” stat requirements including health, power and your weaponry. Respawning will also be much tougher, with players experiencing the old school “Game Over” screen if they don’t have sufficient resources to get back into the action.
So what do you guys think of this new game mode? With games like Call of Duty, where players can charge through recklessly, will BioShock Infinite’s new approach change the way we approach single player campaigns? I can certainly see this sticking with certain types of games. How about you guys? Will we see more of this in games, or can today’s youth not handle the challenge?
Source – Business Wire
Let’s face it: this generation has been one of a kind. Some of the best quality games we have ever seen. And some of the worst service and disasters we have ever seen. As consoles have become more complex, there is a lot more room for errors and I don’t think any opportunities for screw-ups have been missed. But…the games, man! They are so good! But are they enough to overcome the PSN Hack, the Red Ring of Death, the terrible DLC debacles, the DRM nightmares, constant patches due to broken games on release day and the countless other crap we suddenly have to deal with now?
I mean, Uncharted, Gears of War, Bioshock, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Portal and the Arkham series, just to name a few, are all amazing new franchises that stand with some of the best all time. But is the high quality of the product enough to call this the best generation? Or is the terrible state of things for us consumers too much for these stellar games to overcome? Hit the poll and then hit the comments!
The Achilles’s Heel of gaming, at least from the perspective of a serious contender as an artistic medium, has always been the lack of decent storytelling. While there are a few great examples here and there that highlight exactly what video games can accomplish if they have ample development time and a strong writer in the design team, gaming has sort of let this facet slip away.
In a recent article on The Escapist, Jonathan Davis digs a little deeper into this issue and points out a few games that have successful narrative structures, mostly through their adherence to Joseph Campbell’s concept of the “monomyth”, or Christopher Vogler’s famous “The Hero’s Journey”. Mr. Davis makes a strong argument that the reason games lack narrative punch is because most gaming protagonists don’t have an internal conflict that needs to be resolved, cutting out the all important step of “Resurrection” where the hero overcomes their personal demons and solves the external conflict.
Since most of the characters we control only confront external obstacles, there’s very little room for development, leaving even the coolest action scenes feeling hollow and uninvolved. Games like Ocarina of Time, BioShock and Braid are all singled out for having stories that actually matter to the player, mostly because they have a satisfying resolution to the hero’s issues.
The whole article is really well thought out and examines video games through the lens of a very tried and true structure that most developers ignore. While we’ve taken a look at the issues games face from a similar standpoint, this gives us a new way of thinking about things. If only game designers would consider this in the future, then we might get some titles with a better focus on what matters story wise. What do you guys think about this? What games do you enjoy that follow “The Hero’s Journey” and are stronger because of it? Go!
Every year, the question of digging through the stacks of releases to find which games are worth your time and money is a pretty extensive one. It requires a fair bit of research, a little bit of hocus pocus and also gut instincts to nab the things that you think will jive with your gaming preferences most fully. This becomes especially hard as the video game world becomes obsessed with certain games, sometimes hyping and potentially overhyping whatever new Messiah of gaming has shown up this year.
We’ve all dealt with our share of overrated games not quite living up to what we thought they would be. In fact, we’ve talked about that very thing a number of times here on the old Sushi. However, I was thinking about this issue the other day when talking about the Halo franchise to someone: can a game be both overrated but also still good?
Personally, I think it can be, and the Halo games totally fit the bill. They’re not quite as great as everyone gives them credit for, but they’re still pretty awesome, in my book. Other games that belong here in my opinion include anything from GTA IV to Bioshock (great but over-praised, I feel), Final Fantasy X and even one of my all time favorites, Final Fantasy VII.
So, what games would you guys put in that category? Can games be both very good but also overrated?
Bioshock is ditching the seas and heading to the clouds. We’ve known for some time that the original Bioshock developers, Irrational Games, have been working on a super secret project. There were even rumors of it involving the skies. But nobody could have guessed that they were working on a new Bioshock title that changes the locale of the conflict from the underwater realm of Rapture to the sky fortress known as Columbia.
Bioshock Infinite takes place in the early 1900s, when American imperialism was at an all time high and years before the construction of Rapture in the 1940s. Whether or not this is going to be considered an official prequel to the other two games, or if it’s just taking the role as a spiritual successor to them remains to be seen, but from the trailer it’s easy to tell that we are going to be dealing with the same themes of power, utopia and control. The city of Columbia is perched atop flying airships and great huge balloons, and it is gorgeous and fascinating to look at.
It’s no secret that I was not grabbed by the first Bioshock game, but the new Bioshock Infinite trailer and its setting have me itching to see more… but unfortunately, it doesn’t release until 2012. I guess that gives me plenty of time to go back and finish the original. What do you guys think of all of this?
Also, go ahead and get your “Skyoshock” jokes out of the way in 3…2…1…
XCOM is one of the classics of the the PC gaming scene, an old-school strategy title where you waged war against alien invaders as the director of a Men In Black type organization. In the re-imagining of the series (done by Bioshock developers 2k Games), you still undertake the role of the leader, but instead of issuing orders from behind a desk, you step out into the field to meet the aliens mano a mano. A trailer dropped for the game during E3, and dang if it doesn’t look intense.
Set during the 1950s, this game bares more than a passing resemblance to another period-piece title from 2K that I mentioned above. While similarities aren’t exactly a bad thing, especially given the fact that this is probably the best team to turn XCOM into an FPS, it still remains to be seen whether this will help or hinder the game come release time. What do you guys think about XCOM? Eager to blast some symbiote-looking aliens, or upset about the change in genre?
As the cover for BioShock 2 tells you, it is the “sequel to [the] Game of the Year”. Cheeky, that, but in many ways that bit of advertising copy defines this sequel, for better or for worse. BioShock 2 has big shoes to fill, and a lot of people were either full of anticipation that the second go-round would be as inventive and atmospheric as the first, or instantly dismissive of something that could never live up to the original.
The original game has a reputation of excellence from most quarters. It’s actually the first game I played this generation, when I picked up my 360 back in 2008. I had heard so much about BioShock that I just had to check it out. Also, I’ve always been a fan of “horror” games, which BioShock is to a certain degree. It isn’t a full-bore jump-and-scream gorefest, but it does have an evocative setting and deliberate pacing that fills you with tension and certainly creeped me out.
So when a sequel was announced, I was instantly excited. I loved the setting of the original game, and no amount of multiplayer or skeptical friends were going to keep me from picking up the sequel on release day. Here I am a week later to tell you how it all stands up.
Now that 2009 has ended, it seems that everybody and their moms are coming up with “best of the decade” lists, whether it’s sports, movies or games. We’ve got some ideas of our own regarding this, though we’re letting things marinate like a juicy steak before we let you dudes start biting into it. OK, that analogy got a tad weird at the end.
Anyway, the A.V. Club has posted what it believes to be the best games of the 00’s, and as such has listed 15 games that progressed the medium. The list is actually remarkably well put together, and includes some great titles that you honestly don’t see in too many places, such as Advance Wars for the DS and Katamari Damacy.
While I’m not the hugest fan of Bioshock as the number 1 title, I can see why so many hold it in high esteem, though it seems a bit repetitive to include it along with Fallout 3. Aren’t they largely similar? Feel free to flame me if I’m wrong, as I couldn’t really finish either.
What do you think of this list, and what’s your game of the decade? Go!
Source- A.V. Club
Are video games art? This is a question that sends some people into a tizzy, as gamers plot revenge against Roger Ebert for answering in the negative. I personally have always been of the opinion that games are art. They have writing, music and visuals, therefore, since all of those elements by themselves are art, when they are combined, that must be art, too. But lately I have been wavering in my conviction.
The problem I have is that art should mean something. It should express an idea or explore something about the world or our humanity. And some games do this, such as Braid or Bioshock. But for every one of those, you get 50 of Left 4 Dead or Borderlands, great games, but not really stretching the limits of the medium’s potential. These games do away with story in order to focus on gameplay, which can be an art itself. Not every game has to move the medium forward, but the gems are few and far between. Where is the video game equivalent of Casablanca or The Godfather? We have one of the most amazing media platforms in history and we waste it on zombies and ninjas?
The medium most copied by games is film. It seems ever since the dawn of games that there has been a concerted effort to make games more cinematic. This is not the ideal direction for games to take. Games are unique in that it is an interactive experience and even communal at times. Why should games try to be something it is not? A movie tells a story. You sit back and watch it unfold, passive in your viewing, knowing that nothing you do will change the events on the screen.
Games are radically different. A game still tells a story, but you are an active participant. You are still being driven along a pre-set path, though some have more freedom than others, but you decide if the plot moves forward. In some games, there are choices that take the story along a different path, although this aspect of games is still in it’s relative infancy and much more can be done with it. But games are not movies and I really believe that developers should stop trying to force a square peg in a round hold. Games have the luxury of defining themselves and what kind of methods they can use to being a story to gamers. Even games like Uncharted 2, while amazing, are trying to be like movies. There is a freedom in games that is being squandered and it would not be beneficial to the industry if games became stagnant so earlier in it’s still young life.
The main issue that I have been dwelling on is that most art starts with an emotion or an idea that the artist, writer, singer or director wants to express. Maybe someone had their heart broken and they write a book about a similar person that allows the writer to have a cathartic experience. A director reads the screenplay and is moved by it and makes a film out of it, adding their personal touch to the tale, but still maintaining the original vision. The same thing happens with music. Someone is compelled write a song from an experience they had. This is not to say that all movies and music originate from this point. Indeed, many movies and songs are written simply to make money, but the best movies and songs come from something personal.
With video games, this is not so. I have no figures, but I would estimate that 90% of all games originate from a business plan. Very few games start off with someone trying to capture an emotion or some essence of humanity. It seems that many games start off with an idea for a gameplay mechanic and then a story is woven around that concept. Now, this is not always the case, but I don’t see people writing original game scripts and shopping them around, hoping that some studio will take a chance and make a game based on it. Games are largely a team effort and so are movies, but the key difference seems to be that the original impetus for a movie usually comes from one person, or perhaps a small group of people writing together. Games seem to be formed in meetings and committees. This does not make them lesser stories or ideas, but it does seem to focus on the business side of things and not the artistic side. This seems just be the nature of the beast.
But it is this aspect of games that is making me doubt whether all games are art. I guess what I can say for sure is that some games art art, but all games have art inherent in them: the music, the design, the writing (Except for Resident Evil games) and everything that goes into making a game all come from people who are artists in their own way. But what a game means, what it is about, are the factors that determine if a game is art. It’s a difficult object to judge, but I don’t need all games to be Picassos. But it would be nice to see a drive to move video games forward. Games like Bioshock have shown that this can be done without sacrificing success. I only hope it happens before video games hit the wall that comic books did.
What do you guys think? Are all games art? Only some? None? Am I dwelling too much on the origins of a game’s idea or am I on the right track?
With all the new games coming out every year, it becomes tricky to negotiate which games you should/shouldn’t buy. Already this Fall, I’ve bought a game I didn’t expect to (Halo: ODST) and I’ve been tempted by two other titles I didn’t have any plans on buying (Forza 3 and Borderlands). However, there is inevitably the game that everyone else seems to love, but you don’t necessarily drink the kool-aid for the way others do.
For me, that might be Left 4 Dead 2 this year. In previous years, games like Bioshock and any of the Devil May Cry games have failed to catch my fancy. Same thing with Mario Galaxies. Also, and this one might get me yelled at- Ocarina of Time. Though others loved them, I just never caught the fever. What about you guys? What recent great games do you not drink the Kool-Aid for like everyone else does? Flame on!
We’ve talked around these parts before about how single player gaming seems to be going the way of the buffalo, slowly shuffling towards some great doom in future generations of gaming yet to come. It seems that you can’t make a decent single player experience without trying to tack on a co-op mode or some kind of competitive multiplayer. Why, Brutal Legend and Uncharted 2 are recent examples of this idea in action.
Kotaku has put up a fairly thoughtful piece on the idea of single player gaming’s slow extinction, and what it means for the industry. The big factor in most of these multiplayer mode add-ons is that companies don’t want people to resell and buy their games used. To me, you can’t escape the inevitable- used games are here to stay, and there’s nothing you can do about it. What you can do as a game company is lower your budget and (gasp) maybe even the prices of games so that there’s more incentive to both buy and keep the games you want. Another great model is Fallout 3’s DLC packs.
So what do you guys think? Is single player gaming dying?
The dudes behind the upcoming sequel to Bioshock have been hard at work. Recently, they gave an interview about some of the features in BioShock 2 multiplayer, including gametypes and the variety of plasmids available to combatants. While I’m still not super stoked about multiplayer in a game that I feel doesn’t need it, some of the clips they’ve got here are pretty sweet. What do you guys think?
A while back, I asked what video games you fell in love with in terms of story. Not surprisingly, most of your responses centered on games in the more recent era. This is an obvious trend because in the old days, games did not need a story to exist. But now, we need motivation, cut-scenes, back-story and lots and lots of twists. Too many, some would say. Like me. I think that people’s love for game stories depends on when they started playing.
See, when I was younger, stories in games were very basic. Some games didn’t even try to have one! Endings were short, usually text based. Hell, people were stunned by Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’s FIVE minute ending. Minds were blown, heads exploded, etc…Since I have been playing games since about 1986 or so, I have a different perspective than someone who started in 1996. I play the game for the GAMEPLAY. If a game has a great story, awesome, but it’s only a bonus. If a game has poor gameplay, I don’t care how good the story might be, I am not playing it.
Continue reading Generation Gap: Video Game Stories
Fanboys and the media just love to start trouble. Fanboys we can understand, they just want to see their console succeed and all others fail. Why, I have no idea, but thats their moronic role and I have to live with it. The gaming media, which I am beginning to think is pretty juvenile sometimes, should know better than to manufacture a story. But they do all the time, with their unrelenting hype.
Dark Cloud was widely called a “Zelda-killer”. First, I don’t know what that even means, since it won’t stop Zelda games from being made. Trust me, as good as Dark Cloud could be, Nintendo will still make more Zeldas. I loved Dark Cloud, but I bought a GameCube just to play The Wind Waker. So it didn’t really kill anything, did it? Second, the two games are really nothing alike, apart from the green hat the heroes both wear and that it is an action-rpg. Dark Cloud was a dungeon crawler with a focus on stamina and weapon maintence. You only explored one dungeon at a time and rebuilt a town using items found in the caves. Zelda is much more open and epic, with the focus on exploring and puzzles.
Continue reading Myth of the “Killer” Game
I’m constantly annoyed by the endless debate about giving a game a perfect 10/10. In my mind, there is no such thing as a perfect game, but it’s still alright to give a game a perfect score. Basically, this means you believe that the game is as close as it can get, for its time, to the gaming nirvana, so to speak.
To be honest, there are only a couple of these per generation, though video game publications like to give 10’s out left and right these days. And that’s what really annoys me.
So here comes GameDaily, who recently went back and re-scored several games that it gave 10/10, saying that these titles don’t deserve quite as much praise as they were once given.
Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: The Perfect Score?
Choices involving good, evil and morality seem to be the latest trend in games. In the old days, the only choice you had was whether to use the boomerang or bomb as a secondary weapon in The Legend of Zelda. But times have changed.
At first, the choices were opaque: in Grand Theft Auto III, when not in a mission, you could run around and kill innocent bystanders for no reason. Or you could abide by the law (except traffic laws) and just stick to the straight and narrow. I wreaked as much havoc as possible because that world is a virtual playground and I wanna play! It wasn’t a choice in the way we usually think of them, but it was there for you to decide.
We all have secrets. There are whole websites devoted to people just telling their secrets and Conan O’Brien has a segment where celebrities can reveal their darkest truths. In this post, Anthony has uncovered some of the most iconic video game character confessions you have never heard!
It’s time for all the good boys and girls to make lists for their loved ones for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever holiday festival you choose to celebrate. I celebrate Christmas, so this is a Christmas list. If that bothers you, don’t worry. I eat poorly and will likely die an untimely death. Now, on with the countdown…er count up, since I start with #1. Continue reading Top 5: Games I Want For Xmas