Ben's Week In Review: November 22
It was a nice fall day today, so I got the car detailed, got some brunch, shot some hoops, and oh yeah, played a bunch more of Assassin's Creed II. ...that has nothing to do with the weather, but I wanted to toss that in. ;)
Ninja Theory finally said it
We PS3 fans love our exclusives. If I was going to rank the best games of the generation thus far, four of the top five would be exclusive to Sony's console, and the top three would be Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Killzone 2. And next year, I'm relatively certain that both Gran Turismo 5 and God of War III will knock Gears of War 2 out of the top five and then it'll be all PS3 exclusives. It won't include Heavenly Sword but that remains one of my favorite games; it was such a tremendous accomplishment just in terms of technical achievement. The acting was some of the best I've ever seen, and syncing the words with the lips...? Nigh on perfect, and it usually isn't in games. But as Ninja Theory said, there's a lot of pressure involved in producing an exclusive title. Especially back in 2007, when the designer must've been really pressed to make the most out of the PS3.
That's the thing with exclusives. Not only do you have to make it amazing so you make a good profit - you're eliminating many millions of potential sales by ignoring the other platforms - but if it flops, the repercussions likely reach beyond what we might expect. I can't imagine being in one of those studios going, "damn, we better do this right or we're in trouble." You know?
I'm a little concerned about the Kane & Lynch sequel
First of all, the original was barely average and while I do have confidence that the sequel should be better...I'm not so sure. After seeing the two viral promo videos for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, only one question came into my head: "Are we looking at another video game that might rely only on shock value in order to generate decent sales?" Thing is, when it's about growth and pushing the envelope in the areas of technicals and artistry, that makes perfect sense for an advancing industry. But those videos really only make me wince and then I wonder, "wait, why is this interesting? Why do I even want to be watching this?" It's not that I don't applaud the originality - that security cam footage idea works for a game like this - but it wasn't the presentation that caused the first title to trip and stumble. It was the gameplay. If Eidos didn't address that, than those uncomfortable cut-scenes may be the only reason slightly intrigued consumers might spring for the purchase.
Please don't let this happen, Square-Enix or Eidos or whoever you are now. Sequels can really be very impressive and far superior to the original game, and if they can execute such a significant quality leap, I'm all for it. But don't just give us a cinematic experience chock full of questionable content and just assume that'll be enough to carry it through. Thankfully, we don't see a lot of this in the industry but you never know...
Personal gaming update
I knew there was no chance I'd be able to finish Dragon Age: Origins before I had to review Assassin's Creed II, and I also knew after about an hour of the latter that I'd have to finish it before going back to Dragon Age. However, I swear that I will, 'cuz I've finally found an RPG I really love and I still have to wait another four months for Final Fantasy XIII. ACII is so damn awesome that it's tough to put it down; I love how you really have to understand how everything works in order for you to be fully effective. Guards don't always act the same way; that's the point of your Notoriety meter. If it's low, you can just walk on by 'em without any issue. I totally forgot this when trying to take down an assassination target; I was saying to myself, "how the hell am I supposed to do this with all these guards around?" It took a while for me to realize that it didn't matter because my Notoriety was almost non-existent. I just don't like how Throwing Knives are apparently always seen so you can't really do it totally incognito, and I think that's kinda wrong.
But other than that, the game rules in every sense of the word. I get to build up my own villa with funds, like you would do with property in other games. I get to have armor and weapon upgrades and stuff. It's just bad-ass. I think the only game I missed this year that I really need to play is Resident Evil 5, so that goes on the Christmas list. Until then...it's all about ACII and Origins. :)
11/21/2009 Ben Dutka