Shinji Mikami is a man involved in redefinitions. He created the modern horror genre with Resident Evil. He defined third-person stylish action with Devil May Cry. He followed these by redefining action games with Resident Evil 4 and made the funniest, most hardcore brawler ever in the sublime God Hand.
Then he took a look at one of the staples of Western game design – the third person cover shooter, popularised by Gears Of War – and casually made a game that bests all of them. That game, Vanquish, isn’t just a standout moment of the generation, but is also one of my all-time favourite games. And it’s really down to jawache.
I had to go full circle with Mirror’s Edge. It took two returns and three purchases to finally become friends with DICE’s parkour adventure. First, there was love at the sight of the first trailer; blue skies and scrubbed white buildings as a playground for first-person running. Next, obsession with the demo, learning the quirks and characteristics to try and get the best time. But, then came the full game.
Redlynx’s Trials HD burst onto the Xbox 360 in 2009, a shiny update of Trials 2 that had been a PC favourite for a long time. The transition to console brought a few things to the table – a more playful attitude, perfect controls, and hundreds of Back buttons becoming suddenly spotlessly clean as impatient thumbs hammered them repeatedly.
For not only is Trials HD tense, brutal and gratifying, it’s also king of the just-one-more-go.
The extra power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation heralded an important development in gaming: the dreams of matching the cinematic narrative style so prevalent in Hollywood could finally be realised. In hindsight, this strictly linear approach had arguably more failures than successes – for every Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare there was a HAZE, every Heavy Rain matched by a Turning Point. It was clear that pure power wasn’t enough – it had to be utilised not only by expert coders, but also by writers and directors who understood the need for deep, compelling characters in an exciting story.
And the absolute peak of this new wave was Naughty Dog’s expertly constructed Uncharted 2.
Tomb Raider! How did that even happen? A burnt out franchise starring a bygone star of a gaming age where breasts (and size thereof) were equal to guns (and size thereof). The next in a long line of adventure games that were quickly paling under the harsh cinematic light of Uncharted. The ubiquitous reboot of a beloved icon that was going to be darker and grittier. Yaaaaaaawn. Time to roll over and stay down, Lara.
How important is employment? From very early on in our childhood, we’re funnelled down the process of refining some skills and repressing others to prepare for our mythical lifetime job. Nothing holds a higher priority than forcing children into shapes that might one day yield the all-important salary, an approach that is seemingly justified by the existence of endless bills as adulthood takes hold.
So, after years of education and hardship and crappy interim jobs selling your soul a chunk at a time in the form of car insurance policies, it must take something pretty special to tempt you into actually risking your hold on a stable, career-based job.
Unfortunately, Geometry Wars Waves is exactly that kind of special.
The Nintendo Wii holds an unique honour in my gaming lifetime. It’s the only console I’ve ever sold – twice – while its been in the middle of its life. There’s has been no other console that has left me feeling so totally angry and ambivalent about its core mission and design. The lack of HD, the foggy motion controls, the dry spells between Mario and Zelda games filled with tumbleweeds; it was something that I just new I wouldn’t able to connect with. I bought two Wiis and sold them both, head shaking harder the second time for believing that there might have been some redeeming long-term feature I’d missed.
However, the Wii may not have had the longevity I required but it did have one thing that was unbeatable. So good, in fact, that it was the prime reason for my purchase each time I threw money at it. Because, as it turned out, there really ain’t no party like a Wii Bowling party.
The first time I heard of Left 4 Dead was from a forum member at Eurogamer. Because of his involvement in the games industry, he’d managed to snag a preview build of Valve’s new zombie killing game, touted as a pure co-op survival test against screaming hordes and an intelligent adaptive AI. When asked of his opinion, he said that he thought it might be the best online co-op game ever.
The fatness of Split/Second‘s cars perfectly captures the spirit of the game. Bright, colourful and ridiculously wide, they are quick to slam into anything that dares to get in their way, growling all the time like caffeinated angry tigers. At the risk of actually creating a genre, this is a determinedly Michael Bay racing game full of sparks and popcorn, a plump hog that has eaten the extra American fat and wants to drag you along screaming behind it.
Team Ico has been noticeably absent for the PS3’s life so far. A force to be reckoned with on the PS2, Ico and Shadow Of The Colossus frequently feature in many all-time-greatest-games lists. Team Ico’s PS3 title, The Last Guardian, was announced during Sony’s E3 2009 conference but then disappeared into development hell amid reports of technical problems, lack of direction, and lead designer Fumito Ueda quitting in the middle of the process. So, with the primary developers of outstanding emotive interactive experiences dragging their heels, who could fill the void?
As of 12:01am this morning, as Microsoft released the Xbox One to counter Sony’s one-week PS4 lead in the new generation, our shiny home consoles that have been the source of much gaming pleasure over the last eight years officially became last-generation technology. It’s hard to predict just where the new consoles will take us (and probably we won’t really know for another year or so), but it’s a great time to reflect and take a look at what the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii added to our gaming lexicon.