Ben's Week In Review: September 27
This onslaught of sports games is wearing on me. I didn't even know about NBA Live 16 until I saw it in the mail.
I knew Uncharted 4 would struggle without their writing leaders
Let's make this plain: In a linear, story-driven adventure, the story really needs to work. You need real writers or it's painfully obvious that you're playing an amateur production.
This is why I was immediately worried when I heard about major Naughty Dog head honchos leaving the studio. Most of all, I was concerned when lead writer Amy Hennig left. You really can't have that happen when you're already developing a game; it was no surprise to me to hear that Hennig's departure set the team back 8 months. Now, we're hearing that one of the big reasons - perhaps the primary reason - behind the delay of Uncharted 4: A Thief's End was because Naughty Dog wasn't happy with the climax. After all, we're talking about Nathan Drake's final adventure so that ending has to be something special. But it wasn't, which is why we're waiting until March.
I've been worried about the narrative ever since I heard of the problems last year and it seems those concerns were justified. However, as this particular developer is absolutely awesome and still head-and-shoulders above any other studio in my estimation, they're not rushing this out the door. They didn't just slough off the ending so Uncharted 4 could be on store shelves for the holiday season. No, they're going to get it right, even if it means taking a little longer. I'm just saying, I sort of foresaw these issues and I'm glad the team is working through them.
Is it Konami's fault...?
First, we heard that long-time video game publisher Konami might be ditching AAA production. Not long after, we find out that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will need to sell at least 6 million copies just to break even. Every time I hear numbers like this, I can't help but put the blame at the publisher's feet.
It's similar to when Square Enix couldn't break even with the Tomb Raider until the end of the year (the game launched in early March, remember). They had this absurd goal of selling 5-6 million copies in the title's first month on store shelves, and we're talking about a reboot of a franchise that had been floundering for years. It all turned out well in the end - with the added help of the re-release on next-gen platforms the following year - but that's just a sign of a publisher that's in over its head in terms of budget, and totally unrealistic with its expectations. Now, MGSV should end up selling more than 6 million copies and it'll ultimately turn a profit. But obviously, everything still seems skewed.
Either way, I'll be sad to see Konami go. I'm sure they'll keep making games but probably not games I'll have much interest in, and I also wonder what's going to happen with MGS. That's always a huge AAA production, so...
Personal gaming update
Yeah, FIFA 16 is a great game. I think it's probably the best sports game I've played this year so far (although I bet NBA 2K16 has a shot at being better). But now I've got to move on to the aforementioned b-ball title along with NBA Live 16, and I even have the new Skylanders here. I doubt anyone cares much about it, though. Personally, I'm just lying in wait for Assassin's Creed Syndicate. If Ubisoft learns from their mistakes and gives us the AC adventure we all deserve, it could be the best entry yet. Still, I haven't seen one that tops Brotherhood, although that could be due to my preference for the Italian setting. Italy is by far my favorite theme in the series thus far but I'm hoping late 19th-century England will give it a run for its money. As for all that PC garbage, just...whatever.
By the way, I wonder what would happen if Square Enix treated the Final Fantasy VII Remake like a series reboot. Maybe it's the perfect opportunity to do it.
9/26/2015 Ben Dutka