Why do video games suck now?
I like to think that I play a good number of games. I have been since I received a Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. Over the years I have continued to get the new gaming systems and continued to play. I’ve based my purchases on the appeal of the games and their content, not necessarily the brand or the look.
I was always drawn to the Resident Evil series (the games, not the movies). Not to say that I didn’t pay homage to the classics. The Final Fantasys, Contras, Mega Mans etc. I loved the classics so much that I went as far as purchasing a NES after I had long traded mine just to relive the golden days of gaming.
But therein lies the problem. If technology has gotten much better over the years, why do I have to bother reverting back to older systems with inferior graphics and hardware? I’ll tell you why;
The games of the past kick way more ass than the games of today.
I am a fan of RPGs. Granted to each his own, but something needs to be said about a game with an amazing storyline and a devotion time that mirrors a week or more of full time employment. Unfortunately there is something missing from the RPGs of late. Whether its the storyline that’s thin enough to give you a paper cut, or the time commitment that is lucky to outlast watching a season of a TV show in a single sitting.
Some series are fantastic, Diablo for example (yes, I still play Diablo 2). But some series are hit and miss as far as game to game content.
A perfect example would be Final Fantasy. I think Final Fantasy VI was the best, (FF3 in the US). Each character can do the usual; attack, use magic, use an item, and other. Other can be things like Runic (absorb magic), MImic (copy last ability used), or tools (fun things like chainsaw or drill). Yes the game wasn’t perfect, each character could learn every spell in the game, but there were definitely aspects top the game that made it unique both to the series and other games that made it amazing. There were options within the storyline that affected later content in the game. Unlike the “dynamic” games available today like Dragon Age, the options were clear and deliberate. Save the cute moogle, or get the gold hairpin, it’s up to you.
Other games in the series are truly awful. For example, Final Fantasy 12. I spent what I though was a GOOD amount of time lollygagging, and I was still able to complete the game in 20 hours. That time included completing all the hunts and “fun” side quests. There are those that would make the argument that “Graphics are what make a better game. Look at all the cutscenes and landscapes.” Good, great, grand, thats amazing, what ever. If it looks amazing but fails to tell a compelling story and has no interesting content, whats the point? It might as well be a picture, neat to look at but no real interaction.
Another game in the series that was an unfortunate let down was FF13. It was physically difficult for me to play. I appreciate that they are trying to change things game to game to prevent stale content, but when the game is filled with an unabridged dictionary worth of written lore and info, it becomes work to play. The characters also very similar to previously used ones in previous games.
The final major issue that I run into in new games is the awful marketing. No longer is the target market gamers, now the focus is entirely attracting non-gamers to play. How many games have you played in the last 10 years that haven’t spent the first 20% of the game teaching you how to play in the most painfully simple tutorial? What ever happened to intuitive game play? All replay value is gone when you have to go through the training over and over with no option to skip it. X to interact with someone, O to cancel, controls have mostly become standardized so please as a favor to those of us that have grown used to it, give us the option to skip the excessive training and don’t change the layout.
I guess what I’m really looking for is some kind of happy middle ground between gameplay/storyline and graphics. Without one of those there is a gaping void that can only be filled with disappointment. Growing up with an 8 bit NES I remember what it was like to have a game that didn’t look all that good so it had to depend on the content to get by, and I would be more than willing to sacrifice aesthetics for content. I can’t argue against companies making games that appeal to a wider audience, or even allowing “very easy” difficulty to incorporate non-gamers, but you are neglecting the people that sponsored your upbringing.