Doubts About Modern Gaming

Before I get too far into this, I want to admit that each time a console generation was new, I always resisted it at first. I didn’t like the Playstation and N64 when they were new, didn’t like the PS2 when it was new, and so now, not liking the X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 kind of gives me the feeling that I’m just running around a familiar circle.

That being said, I also feel like I have more to complain about this time around than I did previously. There are legitimate, objective faults with this console generation, not just a general dislike of change.

Objective faults, such as:

1. The rise of DRM. I mean, I understand they need to fight piracy somehow, but when a lot of those methods make the software dangerous or unusable, what’s the point?

2. The war against used games. Now this is something that baffles me. This generation we’ve seen gaming conspire not just against pirates, but against people who buy used. Again I can see where the corps are coming from, but in practice it winds up creating games like Resident Evil 3D: the Mercenaries where the experience is only good once, or Half-Life 2 which is completely inaccessible to half the potential market. I swear that this and DRM are eventually going to suicide the games industry.

3. DLC. Now call me old-fashioned (I’ll take that as a compliment) but I feel like, if I buy a game, every element should be there on the disc, and available from the get-go, or else earned by doing something in-game. Saying “you have to pay an extra five bucks to unlock feature X” is just bullshit, and I won’t stand for it.

Everyone else has written articles about why these kinds of things are bad ideas, and attacked it from the angles of consumer friendliness and the corporate bullshit (such as forcing you to pay for content that was actually on the disc the whole time), but actually, my biggest gripe is future-proofing: There’s people today who go back and play NES games, whose to say that there won’t be people in 30 years who come back and play X-Box 360 games? But one problem the 360 will have that the NES doesn’t is that a lot of games will be rendered incomplete or even unplayable by the fact that their download servers will have since been taken down.

I’ve actually already seen something akin to this happen: When I picked up Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence last year, its manuals told me to refer to a document on Konami’s homepage for the tap codes for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, as well as various other documents for a more “complete” MGS3 manual. But guess what–when I went there, Konami no longer hosted any such documents! They were gone! Fortunately, Solid Snake was a previously-released game so I was able to find its documentation from a fansite. That’s a situation that will not be recreated for all the DLC for Oblivion or Street Fighter IV or whatever. All those bonus characters? In twenty years, they’ll be gone.

3. The love affair with 3D While I don’t hate 3D graphics on principle, I do find them rather… boring. The problem to me is that 3D isn’t as individualized and artistically distinct as 2D is capable of. Cartoon watchers can compare He-Man, Ren and Stimpy and Avatar the Last Airbender to see what I’m talking about. All 2D, but all with completely different looks. In the world of gaming, just compare Street Fighter II to its nearest rival, Mortal Kombat. Again, both 2D, but strong difference in aesthetics.

I just watched videos of Street Fighter IV and the Mortal Kombat revival, and unlike their 2D counterparts, these two look about the same. Let’s face it, 3D is 3D and the only time there’s a difference is when its a matter of technology. I mean the PS1 3D doesn’t look like PS2 3D, but between PS2 and PS3 there’s not that big a difference.

And 2D is beautiful in ways 3D really can’t be. I mean, look at the scenery details in Ghouls n’ Ghosts for example, the leaves blowing and all that. Such things can’t really be recreated in 3D–and if they are, they’re usually far less noticable. It’s the difference between a painting and a photograph: the photograph is merely information, but the painting has expression.

Anyway, that’s my nostalgiafagging for today.

Doing more work on getting my review show set up. I expect to launch it this summer, but don’t hold me to that.

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