Ben's Week In Review: August 4
Had a birthday a few days ago, but as it's a bad age, I've decided not to discuss it. ;)
Dear Take-Two: "Permanent" might be okay, annualization is not
This past week, publisher Take-Two Interactive hinted that they want Red Dead to become a "permanent" franchise, in that it really doesn't have a finite lifespan and just keeps going and going. You know, like James Bond. And if we're being honest, we could probably call Grand Theft Auto "permanent" by this time. Now, there are plenty of pitfalls with keeping an IP running forever but if there's one company that could do it, I think it's Take-Two. The mini-headline for this bit is like preaching to the choir: They've made it abundantly clear that they do not agree with the "annualization" trend. And that's a good thing.
Next to Uncharted, Assassin's Creed is my favorite new IP of the current generation. But Ubisoft putting one out every single year has led to some issues, and I have my reservations about Black Flag. The bottom line is that you just can't keep a series fresh that way; the games are too big, too dynamic, too demanding of a developer's time. Take-Two understands this. They get it. And while I think GTAV is taking a touch too long (GTAIV was out over five years ago, remember), I'm patient. If another Red Dead comes along, great. I'm fairly certain none of these franchises will start to see continual annual releases, and that's the correct approach.
By the way, Take-Two seems to be doing just fine and these franchises are some of the best-selling and most revered IPs out there. So annualization isn't necessary, is it? I'm talking to you, Activision and Ubisoft.
Sweeeeet...the new Lara is coming back!
After hearing about how screwed up Square Enix's internal sales expectations were for the Tomb Raider reboot, I was worried the new Lara would be done before she really got started. But thankfully, a sequel is coming! That news really made my week.
See, I say that character revamp was not only essential for the franchise, it was one of the best aesthetic and personality overhauls I've ever seen. Sure, she's still pretty much invincible (she gets beat to sh** dozens of times in that game), but at least she shows that beating now. And besides, she acts very much like a real person...finally. It's not a matter of being realistic - 'cuz it definitely isn't - it's a matter of giving us a sympathetic, somewhat believable character. On top of which, the gameplay structure was excellent. I love the idea of being able to explore and find treasure at your leisure. Not enough non-RPG games do this.
For the sequel, I'd like to see very much the same structure, but with an even heavier focus on Lara herself. This was supposed to be like the birth of a legendary icon, and I didn't quite feel that. They just didn't do enough with the "beginning" premise, as I mentioned in my review. If they can really bring that out in the next effort, and they keep the structure and mechanic the same, I'll be happy. And Crystal Dynamics better be at the helm again.
Personal gaming update
I almost want to go through The Last Of Us again, just because it really is that good. I'd play it slightly differently, I think. However, Splinter Cell: Blacklist is only weeks away and I've been looking forward to that, and then it's Grand Theft Auto V on September 17. You know, I keep forgetting that Killzone: Mercenary for the Vita also launches on 09/17. And I've got a beta code, so be on the lookout for a hands-on impressions article this week. :) I also got a code to try the recently released Dragon's Crown, which is great. That review is coming soon as well, but I can say I strongly recommend it for anyone who liked the old-school side-scrolling beat-'em-ups. I might even recommend it to RPG fans because of the structure and depth...
My girlfriend and I played it for a while today, actually. I'm the Wizard and she's the Amazon and we both had a lot of fun with it. Balancing accessibility for newcomers with the combat intricacy for veteran hardcore players = big plus. And the artistry is beautiful...albeit highly exaggerated, as most of you already know. ;) That Sorceress is just ridiculous. LOL
8/3/2013 Ben Dutka