The following is an editorial. It represents the views of the author only, and not the XBLA Fans staff as a whole.
Every few years a new game surfaces that’s “cool” to play. In the early part of the 2000’s it was Halo, then it was Grand Theft Auto 3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare started a trend that’s seen yearly addon pa–err titles to the series. But the most recent trend of only three years is Minecraft. It’s a game that every teenage boy carries on his USB thumb drive, hoping that while in the computer lab he won’t get caught playing the no-need-to-install version on a school PC. But it’s become more than that. It’s a social thing now. PC players host and join mulitplayer servers, working and battling creepers cooperatively. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition brought a near-perfect experience to home consoles, and while it’s not quite as strong as it’s PC brother, it’s been enough of a success to post over 3 million players to the leaderboards and get the attention of Red vs Blue‘s Rooster Teeth, who have created a series of Let’s Play videos and challenges.
But I just don’t get the appeal of this game.
I get that it’s well made, that it has a social appeal, and that those who love it enjoy it immensely. And to that I say good for them. But try as I might I just look at the gameplay and scratch my head. Maybe it’s because I’m playing solo. Maybe it’s because I’m in my (early) 30’s. Maybe I just feel like it takes too much time to get to the fun stuff. Whatever the reason I wish fans and the faithful developers the best, but it was like grinding teeth for me to play this game.
As a mega-huge Star Wars nut I squealed a bit inside when the box art for the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title, Star Wars: First Assault was leaked a few days back. I scoured the internet looking for additional clues as to what it could be about. What type of game was it? A shooter? A Rogue Squadron-esque game? *gasp* A Battlefront game? The possibilities swam through my head. I had to know more, but every turn led to dead ends. Could Pandemic be developing it? Nope, they went under after The Saboteur was released. Maybe Slant Six Games is working on it. After all, Star Wars game load screens and character textures were found buried in the files for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and Kotaku reported in 2010 that they were working on something called Star Wars: Battlefront Online. Could this be that same game, but with a more finalized name? Maybe Spark Unlimited has the project? Nah, they denied it after stringing us along for months and finally revealing Lost Planet 3.
But one thing is for sure, between the leaked box art and domain names Fusible found registered to LucasArts, this game is happening. That being said I think it’s a Battlefront game. It’s the biggest sub-franchise LucasArts has ever produced, and fans have been clamoring for another real installment since Battlefront II came out in late 2005 (the portable games don’t count). It also fits the XBLA stereotype. Look at how many online shooters we have. Battlefield 1943, Breach, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Blacklight: Tango Down, and Hybrid. Clearly it fits the bill. But if it’s actually an online shooter it needs to be more than its competitors. Slapping the Star Wars brand on it isn’t enough.
The following is an editorial. It represents the views of the author, and as such does not represent the views of the XBLA Fans staff as a whole.
I’m often in the minority around here. I’m not really a fan of the more “indie”-styled games, I like the more “franchise”-y ones. I’ve been railed multiple times on our podcast for my opinions (all in good fun, of course), and often find my views completely polar to other staff members. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD was a perfect example of that. I absolutely loved the game. Other staff, however, had varying opinions, some feeling it was downright awful.
Fair enough. To each their own, right? I’ve seen other staff gush about Bastion, LIMBO, Super Meat Boy, and pretty much every other big indie game. And in a way I can see why those games merit their love. They’re all solid games with tight gameplay. That being said, I often find that I’m not a fan of those kinds of games. But there’s a difference–I can concede that the more indie-esque games have solid gameplay, whereas the rest of the staff often finds gameplay issues in games I love–things I often am able to overlook. Such is the case with Tony Hawk, so let’s address what could have truly made it great, totally memorable, and what would have given it a better Metacritic score of 66/100. (which, if I’m honest, is probably an accurate blend of all the different opinions I’ve seen/heard)
Normally I don’t go for what I largely consider the ‘sensationalist journalism’ that gets big hits. You know the kind — things like the Activision vs Respawn Entertainment/Infinity Ward …
It frightens me to think how much money I’ve spent over the years on video games. True, I may not be walking down Rodeo Drive with 20 handbags full of dresses, jewelry and shoes, but I really wonder how many of us could give the traditional shopaholic a run for her money when it comes to the amount of money we’ve dropped on games, guides, consoles, and the like. Considering consoles range from the 2-500 USD when they’re released and games have always been in the 50-60 USD range. Game guides are roughly half that price, as are controllers. Other game peripherals can be as much as twice the cost of a game.
Whine, whine, whine. That’s all my friends do when they come over to my house to game. I hear stuff like “I can’t see anything!” or “I could actually win a match if we were on my TV.” Whatever, I thought. I still kick their trash when we’re playing online, so why would an HDTV matter? (By the way, that’s not my TV) Then I started playing the first Mass Effect. Having conversations with NPCs was nigh impossible. I had to sit just a few feet from the TV, and that’s saying something because I have great vision. The text was just too small. I couldn’t read HUD values, bios, or pretty much any other text, either. Still, I dismissed it and played through.
I’m a tightwad when it comes to money. When you have a wife and two kids, a mortgage, bills, etc. you will be too. My philosophy has been not to replace a TV if it ain’t broken. To my chagrin both of my TVs are stubbornly resilient. I’ve had ‘offers’ from two brothers-in-law and several friends to sabotage a TV just so I can pick up something that’s HD. Still I resist. Why should I spend money on something I don’t need? Or do I?
It seems like everyone likes to gang up on Microsoft, but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s for attention, maybe it’s from bitterness, maybe they’re ignorant to the goings on behind the scenes, and maybe, just maybe, their beef with MS is justified. But honestly I’m tired of what I largely consider to be whining. I just want to break out the world’s smallest violin and play a sad song for them. I realize that sometimes the process developers must follow complying with Xbox Live is tough, but that’s why we don’t get several patches for a game, why we have the most secure network, and why we as consumers are happy with our service.
What’s coming next may seem a little sharp to some. Please remember that this is an editorial, so it’s my opinion, and mine only.
While playing Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team this past week something occurred to me; Xbox Live Arcade is the perfect venue for developers and publishers to introduce players to a gaming universe. Kill Team is a perfect example. Here you have a straight forward old school arcade style co-op shooter set in the Warhammer universe. I bought it because I had always read a lot about the Warhammer universe online and because I’m a fan of shooters. I invited a buddy down, we had our fun with the game and I quickly picked off the last few achievements in Kill Team by myself in the following days to officially “complete” everything the game had to offer.
It seems to be a recurring issue of late — Xbox Live Indie Games developers worried about poor sales. Who can blame them when the marketplace is crowded with fart machines, controller vibrators, and cheesy games about picking up women? Even if a game is good, it often gets flushed off the list of new releases too quickly to get noticed. There’s also the glaring issue of very little front page advertising for these games. The Indie Games channel is much more accessible than it initially was in the most recent system update, but even then some developers feel that’s not enough.
What you’ll find after the jump is my opinion, and mine only. It doesn’t represent our staff as a whole, and it’s certainly not meant to offend. Please stay objective as you read, and if you need to vent please take it out directly on me in the comments below. Again, I try to stay objective and neutral, so any stings are unintentional.
First off, I would like to say that I do play an occasional retail game. It’s very rare, but I do buy retail discs. Usually it is a budget title though. In 2010, I bought three retail games and only one game (UFC Undisputed 2010) was $60. The other two titles I picked up were Deathsmiles and 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa both at $20. My other gaming purchases totaled anywhere from 30-40 Xbox Live Indie Games titles, 40-50 Xbox Live Arcade titles and 30-40 Steam titles. The downloadable platform is clearly my venue of choice for many reasons.