Gaming now and Gaming then – A Story of Despair

Never before did I feel as disconnected from the industry I love as I do right now.

When I take a look at what kind of games people choose as their “game of the year“, I can only think of how ridiculous that choice is. Don´t get that wrong, different people have different opinions and that is okay. But it is the whole combination, the whole package that makes it that unbearable for someone like me. Be it goty-votes, hype for certain games or reactions of the media press…it makes me feel disconnected.

When I was in the prime of my gaming life, gaming was about colorful, varied gaming experiences. There were great games from every kind of genre in every kind of visual style. The gaming industry I remember featured a combination of Turok, James Bond, Pokemon, Zelda, V-Rally, Secret of Mana, Resident Evil and so on. When I take a look at the kind of games that were hyped this year and are about to receive their goty-awards, all I see are “cool”, so-called mature, super-linear, cinematic games. You have different settings, but all you do in these games is shoot enemies, all happening in realistic looking visuals. Basically, the emphasis seems to stray away from gameplay farther and farther. Gameplay doesn´t matter anymore. A game has to look great, have a “cool” story and characters that give off snarky comments all the time. But it totally doesn´t matter if the gameplay is on the level of some kind of mini game. I just finished Modern Warfare 2 on its highest difficulty setting, and the game is a joke. Google “Moorhuhnjagd” and you know what Modern Warfare 2 felt like.

A lot of modern, self-proclaimed hardcore-gamers praise games like Modern Warfare 2 for their cinematic approach. They don´t, however, realize that they´re not even playing a game anymore, or at least veer away from what originally was a game at full speed.

If you followed this blog you´d know that I have this vision of a complex, big open-world adventure-game. In my vision that game is and will be a Zelda-title. But tonight I thought about which titles on the HD-systems actually offer such kind of games. You know, these HD-systems for the so hardcore gamers, these mature people. And when I finished thinking I got my answer: None. Neither Bioshock, Assasins Creed, Uncharted 2, Killzone, Halo, Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 5 or GTA4 are such games. They´re all super linear games, some offering more, some less optional stuff that, in the end, doesn´t matter anyway. To make this clear: THERE IS NO BIG ACTION-ADVENTURE GAME ON THE HD-SYSTEMS!

It may be just me, but there was a time when action-adventures, my favorite genre for many obvious reasons, was the most popular and saw a lot of entries. It wasn´t just Zelda, but games like Eternal Darkness, Starfox Adventures, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Beyond Good and Evil, and many others. None of these games lived through its visuals or its story. These games were great because of their atmosphere and the highly interactive gameplay. How great it felt in Eternal Darkness being able to cut aim at whatever part of the enemy´s body. How great it was to fly to whatever planet you liked to in Starfox Adventures. Not to mention all the possibilities in past Zelda-games. This kind of video game has vanished. The death of  interactive video games is accompanied by the jubilation of blinded gamers.

And that may be the reason why I feel so lost in this time of the history of video games. It is no longer the game that counts, it´s the wrapping that decides over success. And unlike many other times, it´s not just some magazine, professional´s website or publisher that´s at fault. It´s the so-called gamer himself that welcomes this new age of video gaming. In a world where a game like Bayonetta is hyped and gets perfect scores, I just don´t know what to think anymore. If you disagree with me about all that, then it´s maybe for the best if you never read any of my reviews for FlyingFisch. In the world of video games, it is the gamers´ biggest sin that they ignored WiiSports Resort. And while the masses rejoice over linear, movie-like experiences, I wait for Zelda Wii, and only Zelda Wii. Because no other game even tries to go for the golden nugget called “interactivity” anymore.

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4 Responses to Gaming now and Gaming then – A Story of Despair

  1. Jason says:

    Nice post.

    Regards your point about the lack of big open-world adventures for the HD consoles, I’d perhaps argue that Fallout 3 would certainly qualify as ‘open-world’, and deservedly received rave reviews. Mass Effect also had a very open-ended approach, and the sequel looks very promising.

    I think that as gaming gets closer and closer to Hollywood, we will see more and more linear games with phenomenal set-pieces and amazing action. Uncharted 2 is an excellent example of this, and was one of my favourite games of 2009.
    The problem with ‘open-world’ games is that not only are they tremendously time-consuming to develop, they also tend to burn slower, requiring longer to really hit their stride and show off their best moments. That’s not to say they’re any less engrossing, but for many gamers who maybe only have an hour or two a night to dedicate to gaming, they want to be able to really dive straight into the action and be entertained from the get-go, which isn’t always possible with open-world games, due to the pacing required to keep the game from being a relentless fragfest.

  2. Wren2031 says:

    Imo, the last game of the kind you like (wich is also my best experience ever in gaming) is Shadow of the colossus.
    I can’t deny it lacks a lot of, how to say it, life, but the incredible feeling of rushing through hundread kilometers of grass/moutain/forest/whatever you like on the back of aggro, turned the fanboy of Zelda (and epona)i am, into someone who can’t stand the (too much) rare moments of free land-crossing in TloZ TP.
    If you haven’t played it yet, try it, i’m sure you’ll love it.
    BTW the prequel of SotC : ICO, is a great game too.The only game before all the so-called “horror-games -get out of my sight Re5- wich really made me feel fear.

    Ps; pardon me for the poor english, i’m french and haven’t practiced my english since a while.

    This blog is great, keep-up the good work : )

    • mfauli says:

      thx for your comment. Unfortunately, I already played SotC and really didn´t like it. Exactly because of what you´re already mentioning: Feeling lively. The one thing SotC does right in comparison to TP was its fee overworld. Other than that there´s not much I´d want the Zelda-series to adopt from that game. I absolute loved ICO, though, and I think that´s more of a title that Zelda could borrow one or another thing. (For example designing dungeons in a way that they dont feel like typical Zelda-dungeons, but like some natural environment. In ICO you were exploring a real castle, not some game´s dungeon. That was great.

  3. Like your blog 🙂 I’ll check your site later again.

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