Top Six: Franchises of the Current Generation

Current Gen

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

BioShock Infinite Steps Up the Difficulty with 1999 Mode

BioShock Infinite 1999 1

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

Poll: Best or Worst Generation of Games?

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!

Is this the best or worst generation of video games?

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Why Do Video Games Suck at Stories?

game stories ocarina of time

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!

Source – The Escapist, Link picture by Justin Cherry

GamerSushi Asks: Overrated But Still Good?

Bioshock

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?

The Debut of Bioshock Infinite

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…