Ben's Week In Review: January 9
These days, the industry just loves the first quarter. Mass Effect 2 for the PS3, LittleBigPlanet 2 and Dead Space 2, all this month. Good God.
I don't know why I dislike Elder Scrolls, all right?!
I still remember first hearing about Morrowind. I was psyched. I just loved the idea and although I was at the tail end of my glorious PS1 RPG days, Elder Scrolls III was one of the reasons I got the Xbox. In fact, it was the reason (yes, over Halo). But I will always remember putting it in, playing for hours, and never feeling...well, what I thought I would feel. It was hard to pinpoint, which is why I kept at it. I just thought, "well, it's different; you gotta get used to it." But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get past the following: it just felt bland. I know that sounds insane, considering the size and scope of such a production, but it's the only way I can describe it. The landscape, the story, the characters, the combat...it was all just so...bleh. And it's not even the atmosphere; I actually prefer that style to the anime presentation in most JRPGs. So that's not it.
Then I tried again with Oblivion, but the same thing happened. And despite all this, I know I'll try again when Skyrim shows up. It's inevitable, especially after drinking in all the intriguing details. Something inside says, "WTF is wrong with you? This was designed with you in mind!" I've never tried to like something more and came away so unfulfilled. No, I don't get it. But that's the way it is.
PS3 exclusives tops in 2011...? I'll buy that
When analyst Jesse Divnich mentioned that the 2011 exclusive lineup for the PlayStation 3 might be among the best ever, I started to think about what the year offered. The list really is out of control but once again, it seems to me as if the PS3 exclusives will once again set the bar. People can call me biased if they wish, but I think the games speak for themselves. In 2008, nothing topped MGS4, and I also think LittleBigPlanet, Valkyria Chronicles and Resistance 2 contributed to putting Sony ahead of the pack. In 2009, it was all about Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, but we can't forget about Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, Killzone 2, inFamous, and Demon's Souls. In 2010, we had Heavy Rain, Gran Turismo 5, God of War III, MAG, White Knight Chronicles and Yakuza 3. 2011: Killzone 3, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, inFamous 2, Resistance 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, MotorStorm: Apocalypse...yeah, you see a quality trend, here.
Honestly, while Blu-Ray, reliability, and a free Network are pluses, PlayStation has always been about the games. Plain and simple.
Personal gaming update
I put over 43 hours into Brotherhood and did everything I wanted to do. Rome 100% renovated, all memories (even the optional ones) at 100%, all Treasures and Borgia Flags obtained, and I also had a personal goal of having an entire team of full Assassins, which was the last thing I did...takes longer than you think. I tried and hated that filthy load, Splinter Cell: Conviction, as most of you know, and I love to toy around with NBA Jam here and there. Currently, my big game is Fable III; here are some thoughts, if anybody is interested-
I like it and I don't like it. While it does have many of the role-playing elements I crave, it's just yet another example of "RPG lite," believe it or not. I wasn't expecting this from such a series, especially after playing the original, but it happened. Now, I can only equip one spell at a time (oh yes, that's RPG like 'rolling eyes'), nothing I wear matters (i.e., your equipment/outfits have no bearing on your capabilities), and you have no stats. Seriously. Your weapons and spells get better the more you use them, and you gain a certain form of experience in the form of Guild Seals (which are then used to unlock ability chests), but that's about it in terms of battle-related RPG elements.
On the plus side, there are big areas to explore, towns, a cool traveling system, and of course, that patented "social" flair, where you have to try and forge relationships with NPCs (provided you want to be Good). You can go on dates, get married, have sex, have kids, get divorced, become someone's best friend, etc. It's all done by doing simple fetch-and-retrieve quests that would be mind-numbingly annoying if it weren't for the fast-travel option. I've already had a kid, but it's hardly as dynamic as it sounds. For instance, I can kiss a complete stranger directly in front of my husband (I picked the female heroine; not sure why), and it won't matter. It's all just random, really. And by the way, the game chugs horribly sometimes; I haven't seen slow-down this bad in years.
The game is fun, but you know, it's like I said: the streamlining of gameplay and eradication of RPG depth for the sake of wider appeal. It fights like an action/adventure game and it's set in a role-playing theme. I like it...but it may very well be that Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls might be the last true RPGs in existence.
1/8/2011 Ben Dutka