Ben's Week In Review: January 24
Hey look, snow.
If you can't trust Naughty Dog, who can you trust?
I know a lot of people are wondering about the changes we'll see to the standard franchise formula when Uncharted 4: A Thief's End finally arrives in April. But honestly, I wouldn't worry.
And in fact, the developers have really attempted to allay any fears on that score. In just about every interview I read now, another Naughty Dog member is trying to explain that the heart and soul of Uncharted is very much intact. Yes, the levels are a bit larger allowing for more freedom but it's hardly open-world and yes, there are a few choices in the dialogue but as Neil Druckmann said, they're not making a BioWare game. That branching dialogue option only shows up a few times during the game and your choices have no effect on the outcome of the story. And that's the way a linear storyline has to be, of course. There is never anything wrong with advancing, adapting, taking the next step, etc.; to say otherwise means you embrace stagnation, which would ultimately signal the end of any franchise.
What annoys fans - and what can also kill an established IP, deader than a doornail - is when developers do change the heart and soul of a franchise. They don't adapt or progress, they change, they turn the game into a completely different genre. We're not seeing that with A Thief's End and I can pretty much guarantee you won't see it in a sequel for The Last Of Us, either. Naughty Dog knows what they're doing, plain and simple.
You're right, Sony, PlayStation VR CAN'T be a fad
I still remember when we heard rumblings about how 3D gaming was going to be the next wave. 3D HDTVs were big, more and more games were starting to include the option, etc. But I knew it was a fad from the start and why? Simple: It wasn't any good. At its best, 3D was - and will always be - a novelty and nothing more. It will never make you believe that you're in the game or the movie; it will never reach the level of full-on immersion these new virtual reality devices should be able to deliver. 3D was like motion-sensing; a decent gimmick that could be intriguing for a short span of time, but neither had the potential to become the next step in interactive entertainment. Not a legitimate step, at any rate. These actual VR devices have the chance to actually change the industry, which we should probably acknowledge.
So, when Sony said PlayStation VR can't just be a "boom," all I could do was nod. Not only have they dumped a huge amount of resources into this thing, but they're hardly the only company going after VR in 2016 and beyond. It will depend on the game support and a variety of other factors as well, and success is hardly ensured. But it does not fall into the same category as things like 3D and motion-sensing. I still wonder, though, if PlayStation VR really can generate more interest in PS4. I see problems with that.
Personal gaming update
I liked the Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 beta, and I'm thinking anyone who enjoyed the first game will really love the second. It's kind of a breath of fresh air, too; it's not just another multiplayer shooter, as there's a ton of creativity and variety, and no two modes really feel identical (as they so often do in standard military shooters). As for Resident Evil Zero HD Remaster, it's a solid re-imagining but I won't be finishing it. As I said in the "Ugly" part of the summary, there are some games that really need more of an actual overhaul; they need mechanical upgrades because elements like the control or camera need drastic improvement to meet today's standards. The camera, for instance, was mediocre then and just atrocious now.
I can't wait to try out The Witness this week and admittedly, I'm going to have to give Saturday Morning RPG a whirl, purely for nostalgic purposes, obviously. Looking down the road, there isn't much I really want to play in February, though I know Far Cry Primal is coming out. I'm very interested in Republique, too, because it looks like a fantastic stealth adventure, and I'm glad it's coming to PS4 as a complete experience (all the episodes will be out by then).
1/23/2016 Ben Dutka