Ben's Week In Review: March 18
Good Lord...the games just won't stop. That Resident Evil game comes out this week, too, doesn't it? ...whatever happened to my traditional first-quarter break? It go away? :(
If GTAV doesn't make it out this year, then...
At the start of 2012, my two front-runners for Game of the Year were The Last Of Us and Grand Theft Auto V. Obviously, such a prediction was based solely on the sheer capability of Naughty Dog (and that one amazing trailer) and the fact that GTA...is, well, GTA. But it seems Naughty Dog's project may not make it this year (GameStop has a vague December 31, 2012 release date), and Sterne Agee now thinks Rockstar's hotly anticipated title won't arrive until 2013. There's little to no chance of seeing Metal Gear Solid 5, I wish we would see inFamous 3 but I doubt it, and although I've played every single Halo, I don't have a huge amount of faith in Halo 4.
To me, this sort of leaves Bioshock Infinite in the driver's seat for this year's top honors. I've said it before and I've said it again: Bioshock is too under-appreciated by gamers; it's often forgotten when someone lists off the best games of the generation, and that's just plain wrong. The first two were excellent. And I have every confidence in Ken Levine and Co.; they're gonna produce something super special. ...I won't be wrong. I can't be wrong. It's gonna rule too much.
Inafune still isn't pulling any punches
Former Capcom boss and Comcept founder Keiji Inafune got a lot of press last year by accusing the Japanese games industry of falling behind the west. And now, he's at it again. Obviously, anyone with eyes can see that his claims are all too true (although to what extent is arguable), and others have echoed his sentiments, including Hideo Kojima. But in all honesty, while such a debate could go on literally forever, I've decided that the biggest problem is something Tomonobu Itagaki mentioned when being interviewed for his new project (THQ is the publisher), Devil's Third- He said the biggest difference is budget. The budget of his current project is bigger than all of his previous games combined (more than 30).
Yes, of course games didn't have anywhere near the budgets then that they have now, so you have to take that statement with a grain of salt. But after making constant comparisons between Western and Japanese offerings this generation, I have to say, that's by far the clearest, most painful fact: the production values for Western titles are typically much higher. It's so obvious they have put much more money into their games. There are always exceptions to the rule, but I think the point stands.
Personal gaming update
Haven't really been able to play anything I want to play this past week. Just working on reviews: MLB 12: The Show and Street Fighter X Tekken are done, as are Reality Fighters and MotorStorm RC. But I've still got to do Unit 13 and Tales of Graces f, which I've been playing quite a bit. It isn't turn-based, but it's still quintessentially Japanese, and it's nice to have an old-school JRPG every now and then. It isn't bad at all...but as is the case with almost all such titles, you have to be into the sub-genre or you just won't get it. That's how niche games are, after all.
Also, there's one other announcement coming up that relates to the Gerstmann news this past week. Game reviews are always a hot topic of conversation, and we're probably going to kick off some sort of enduring, potentially year-long giveaway that encourages gamers to prove they have what it takes to be a critic. I have to hammer out the details, but prizes could include games, game-related paraphernalia, and even - wait for it - a 3G PlayStation Vita. Stay tuned.
3/17/2012 Ben Dutka