Ben's Week In Review: September 1
Where the hell did August go?! Well, now we're closer to Grand Theft Auto V. ;)
Activision isn't wrong about Call of Duty
It's the franchise many core gamers love to hate. And in some ways, they have good reason to hate it. But you can't really attack the publisher's decision to put out a new Call of Duty entry every year. There's a demand for it and hence, the publisher is offering the supply. That's all Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said when defending the "annualization" of the popular series: "There's demand and excitement each and every time out." And of course, he's right. It's also true that with two development teams, both of which are obviously given almost unlimited resources by Activision, the quality of the games can remain high. Love it or hate it, this is a fact.
Sure, innovation must take a hit for two big reasons: First, because the fan base doesn't want the games to change that much, and second, because no matter what the resources, you don't have enough time to infuse a whole lot of originality. And yes, CoD has infected other developers and publishers with the belief that all gamers want to play is shooters, and that annualization is a good practice. But until CoD begins a downward trajectory, Activision is correct in defending their yearly release schedule. It isn't their fault; you want it, so they're giving it to you. You have to prove that you don't want it first, and then things might change.
Who knows, though? The fall may begin this year, as many analysts have predicted, and then Activision will have to reassess.
When accomplished actors seem appropriately impressed with a video game...
Have you seen those behind-the-scenes videos for Beyond: Two Souls when the actors are being interviewed? The latest featured Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe and I found it quite encouraging. The game footage looked great and I'm really looking forward to the story, but something else stood out: You're looking at two esteemed and accomplished actors who obviously have great respect for the script. It struck me that in listening to other actors talk about other games of which they've been a part, they rarely sound awestruck. They rarely praise the script as being something special, and something that makes them proud of the work. This is the power of David Cage's writing, I think, and we need to see more of it in the industry.
Of course, one can't dismiss another factor: Gaming is still relatively young and as you might've noticed, Hollywood can be pretty clueless about interactive entertainment. So, maybe older guys like Dafoe are a little behind the times, and are just surprised what video games have become. Page admitted she was quite unfamiliar with video games before Cage brought her the script. Still, I don't think either of them would've taken the gigs, nor would they have spoken so highly of the script, if the writing was mediocre. Perhaps we're still a ways behind the stellar writing we find in some movies and books these days, but it's guys like Cage who are capable of pushing us forward. It's just so important.
Personal gaming update
Man, I was so happy to see how Splinter Cell: Blacklist turned out. I was so nervous about it, especially after Conviction, but Ubisoft did a fantastic job of delivering what I deem to be the true modern successor to Chaos Theory. It's even fun playing with others; in fact, that's one of the game's most attractive elements. Stealth fans are gonna love it. I wasn't as impressed with Saints Row IV but it's still lots of fun. If I had the time, I'd definitely complete both. I don't have the time, though, so it's all about Blacklist for me right now. I also need to work on Killer is Dead and I've got the review code for Killzone: Mercenary.
The reviews are coming fast and I probably won't have time to breathe. I'm just glad that Splinter Cell is back and as a matter of respect, I will finish it.
8/31/2013 Ben Dutka