Ben's Week In Review: July 21
I'm assuming this heat wave has to break at some point. It's getting ridiculous.
Why exactly did we need all those Kingdom Hearts spin-offs again?
Square Enix must be one of the worst run companies in the gaming industry. They suffer massive losses over and over and instead of trying to fix it, they just sink deeper and deeper by making the exact same mistakes. Granted, they have their name on several fine games this generation (this year's Tomb Raider being one of them), but their internal development must be in absolute chaos. Tetsuya Nomura says the Kingdom Hearts spin-offs over the years were essential to the brand's survival. His reasoning was that it would take a while to "prepare" Kingdom Hearts III and he didn't want fans to forget about the series.
...what? Kingdom Hearts II launched for the PS2 in March of 2006. That was over 7 years ago. We've gone through an entire generation since. How long does it take to "prepare" for making a game? Seriously? Well, ironically, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was also first announced in 2006 and nearly 7 years later, it has become Final Fantasy XV. Factor in the FFXIII trilogy, which will culminate in a game that nobody seems to want, and we've got ample evidence that the internal teams at Square Enix must be the worst-structured, worst-managed and most incompetent of any developer this generation. So sad.
Can Shinji Mikami risk returning to his roots?
I suppose if there's one person who could return the survival/horror genre to its glory days, it's Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. And he says he intends to return to the genre's roots with his new project, The Evil Within. But let's face it: He can't actually do that. You can't make a big-budget game these days that would play exactly like the first REs or Silent Hills. You need mainstream twitch appeal, which means it has to be dumber and faster or it won't sell. Sadly, that's the way it works. So while I have no doubt that Mikami could make a true survival/horror game, I don't think he's stupid enough to try it. It just wouldn't be published. It'd be considered too "slow." He'd be told to implement more action into the gameplay.
What a lot of people don't realize is that survival/horror used to be like adventure games mixed with scary elements. Sure, there was some third-person action but it wasn't necessarily the primary focus, and you spent most of your time exploring, solving puzzles, catching the story, etc. That'd be fine for smaller-budget downloadable titles today, but it wouldn't fly in the world of AAA blockbuster releases. Besides, didn't Bethesda say when The Evil Within was announced that freakish action would be the staple...?
Personal gaming update
When I looked at the summer lineup and said I really didn't need anything until Grand Theft Auto V in September, I missed something. I forgot all about Splinter Cell: Blacklist, which is set for August 20 and really looks promising. Everything I've seen and heard about this game leads me to believe it could be a return to form; Conviction was such a letdown that I almost swore off the franchise entirely. But the series was always one of my absolute favorites because it was actually stealth and the gameplay was fantastic. I found the controls to be much more intuitive and fluid than the controls in MGS, and the gameplay was much more realistic. Of course, SC never held a candle to MGS in terms of story, but that's to be expected.
So I have high hopes for Blacklist. As for the new contest, I hope a great many will participate. However, despite what I said - that we might do it again in August - I can tell you now that I won't. Rather than hearing, "oh, cool, might bring in more peeps around here," I saw too many, "aw, but what about me?" comments that really don't sit well. It's my own money, people. I do not want to hear any complaints whatsoever. A simple "wow, thanks!" will be fine. If you've anything else to say, keep it to yourself.
7/20/2013 Ben Dutka