Ben's Week In Review: March 10
'Tis that time of the week again, and after all that GDC stuff, there are definitely a few topics worth addressing.
Oblivion Coming in 10 Days
So we finally got an official release date for the PS3 version of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and it's March 20. The thing is, this was actually one of my most anticipated games on the system, simply because I never got around to playing it on the 360. Furthermore, after IGN's assessment that the PS3 version "looked prettier and ran faster," I was even more psyched to pick this one up. But now...it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen.
Does anyone else have issues with brutally long games that can quite literally suck your life away? I just got done with Final Fantasy XII - which took 130+ hours - and from what I hear, you could easily spend that (or even double that!) on Oblivion. Granted, it's a very different RPG, it's an award-winning RPG, and I love RPGs, but I'm a little burned out on both RPGs and ridiculously long games. They shouldn't bring out too many games like these, that's all I've got to say...remember those insanely long strat/RPGs in the Disgaea trilogy (Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, La Pucelle Tactics, and Phantom Brave)? Yeah, those things are nuts. Hundreds of hours, easy. I think it's time to focus more on crazy short games; who says they need to be longer? I think they act as a necessary reprieve. ;)
Well, damn. Looks like this is pretty big news. The new online service for the PS3, scheduled to launch this fall, is called PlayStation Home, and I must say, it's a darn good idea. It's like they took the idea of the Mii and enhanced it a thousand times; having your own little "home" in a virtual space that you can fully customize is cool enough, but to be able to meet up with people is even better. If it gets fleshed out enough, we're talking about a major addition to the world of gaming, and one that further emphasizes the online aspect of consoles. This is one thing we really have to look forward to, and I'll be greatly anticipating the launch of "Home."
My only question is, how much of it will really be a necessity, and how much will be optional? Seeing as how it's online, it's of course up to the player if they want to log on, but how many games will be created with Home in mind, like LittleBigPlanet? And if that's successful, what kind of focus are we looking at for the future of the PS3? I'll assume for now that regular ol' offline games will remain the system's bread and butter - as it should be - but we can never predict the future. Right? Just a thought, looking down the road, that's all.
Trophies not required like Achievements
Unlike Live, and Microsoft's insistence that all games have Achievements included if they want to obtain 360 certification, Sony has decided to make the Trophies for Home optional. I figure this is a pretty good idea, and as Harrison said, it's not hard to implement trophies; they just don't want to force developers. I found this to be somewhat ironic, as Sony has taken a lot of flak in the past for ignoring consumers and developers because of their "attitude." And yet, it turns out that Microsoft is the one doing all the forcing, here. From what I've heard, developers don't like to be "forced" to do anything, even if it is relatively trivial.
The God of War MOVIE?!?!
We had heard whispers of this last year, but this is the first example of the honest-to-goodness existence of a God of War feature film. The script is complete, and I notice the author was also responsible for the fantastic Road to Perdition, so I do have hope for the movie. So very often, we gamers are so very disappointed when we see our favorite games making the conversion to the silver screen. ...and why? You know why. Most of the time, they end up being horrendous, and you can really only hope for a mildly entertaining experience while wincing at the acting and writing. Granted, God of War isn't exactly Shakespeare, but there is a cohesive and even compelling story there. So don't toss away the opportunity!
Look, all we want is something halfway decent that is fun for fans of the game. We can't expect a great movie - I think we've come to accept that - so we'll just settle for an entertaining film that isn't insulting. Really, that'd be nice for a change.
On the Gaming Front
So I'm done with Gears of War now, and I must say, it was one of the best games I've ever played. It's no surprise it swept away so many Game of the Year awards, and I will certainly want to play through it again. In the end, it didn't totally rock my world as it did other gamers, but the inherent quality in that game is second-to-none right now. It's easily the best game on the 360, and one of those rare titles that qualifies as a "system-seller." Yes indeed, if you don't already have a 360, Gears of War is a good enough reason by itself to own one.
Next up: obviously, God of War II. It comes out on Tuesday, and I can't wait to dive in and get going. I'll try and have the review up ASAP, but I want to make sure I get as much of the full experience as possible before writing. And after that, if I'm not tempted to go through it again (and I might be), I'll move on to Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Like I said earlier, I'd love to give Oblivion a whirl this month, but I just can't handle it right now. Maybe later on this year...
3/10/2007 Ben Dutka