Ben's Week In Review: July 5
The year is more than half over and we've already got several great games. Second half will be even better, yes...?
How does Naughty Dog do it?
I guess I just don't understand. How exactly can one studio appear to be head-and-shoulders above everyone else for such an extended period of time?
Sure, great teams can shine here and there but it doesn't seem like this particular studio ever has a hiccup. It just doesn't happen; everything they produce is amazing; everything is a legitimate Game of the Year contender. When you watch something like the E3 extended cut, you're once again struck by the same fact: Nobody can touch these guys. Okay, so it's not open-world and it takes a different skill-set - and probably a bigger team with more money and resources - to create something like Grand Theft Auto V or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. But forget genre for a moment. Just consider every aspect of video game development, from the basic gameplay components to the artistry, story and characters, design, pacing, etc.
How do they do it all so well, time and time again? I think it'll be interesting to see if Uncharted 4: A Thief's End feels as polished and as well put-together as other entries; the project did encounter developmental difficulties, as we all know. Nolan North says Amy Hennig's departure was a very big deal and delayed the project 8 months, and she wasn't the only head honcho they lost. So there is that to consider. And I suppose people can whine about it being "only" 1080p and 30 frames per second but I'm not about to complain. If it impacts the gameplay and we say it could've been better, that's one thing. If not, who cares?
I think the last time we saw such an elongated period of undisputed superiority was Squaresoft back in the '90s. Which, by the way, means we really need to cherish and appreciate what Naughty Dog is doing because as Square proved, it can't last forever.
If the VGChartz numbers are accurate, Sony should be pleased
According to the latest updated worldwide tally, PlayStation 4 still has a big lead over Xbox One and Wii U. I think it was official that PS4 had topped 22 million a few months ago so at least the PS4 number is probably pretty close to accurate. It's pathetic that Wii U is lagging behind even Xbox One after coming out a year before both Microsoft's and Sony's consoles. But whatever. An HD version of a long-dead fad. I really couldn't care less; I'm tired of the mounds of Nintendo shovelware that have swarmed onto store shelves over the past decade or so.
I expect Xbox One to close the gap on PS4 by the end of 2015 because I firmly expect Xbox One to win the holiday season. I honestly don't see how it couldn't. If they launch Forza Motorsport 6, Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider between September and November and they still have the cheaper console, and they still lose to PS4, it's over. There's no hope; Xbox One will continue to lag farther and farther behind and in truth, we might have a situation similar to the PS2 era. It won't be anywhere near to that level of domination (we'll never see that again) but really, if Xbox One can't lead the way this holiday season, it never will. I don't even know what PS4 has left in 2015.
But I know full well what it has on tap for 2016 and beyond. ;)
Personal gaming update
Batman: Arkham Knight is a great game. I really feel no connection to superhero games but it's just a ridiculous amount of fun. It'll be hard to get away from but I really want to dive back into The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and I'll be delivering a review for Whispering Willows this week as well. But it seems we've entered the standard summer drought, which is just fine by me because I could use the break. In addition to The Witcher 3, I still want to play Rogue Galaxy (that classic PS2 RPG I missed) and finish GTAV, and I imagine I'll need all of the next two months. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is set for September 1 so I better hustle.
I'm actually glad Uncharted 4 won't be here until next year. I want time to savor that one.
7/4/2015 Ben Dutka