: Ben's Week In Review: November 3

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Ben's Week In Review: November 3

It's November. The next-gen countdown is on!

Please don't do sci-fi, Naughty Dog

I say Naughty Dog is the premiere developer of the past six or seven years. I'd put Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and The Last Of Us in the top ten games of the generation (and I'd put Uncharted 2 at #1). They alone continued to push the PlayStation 3 in a variety of ways, technologically and artistically. I don't think any other developer continued to excel with each and every installment. That's not one, but two stellar new IPs in one generation. Era-defining IPs, really. And that's not easy. Therefore, I have faith in whatever that development team decides to do, and I'm always behind them 100%.

That being said, if they go the sci-fi route, I will not be happy. Naughty Dog toured SpaceX, which could hint at a sci-fi-based title. Now, I have no doubt that it'd be great. I have no doubt that I'd at least attempt to play it. But although there's no bigger proponent of new IPs than I, I'd much rather get Uncharted 4 first, and they better not take Drake into space. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't fit. As for why I don't like sci-fi, I could write a dissertation on that; let's just say I dislike it and leave it right there.

Levine has his work cut out for him

Ken Levine is one of my favorite people in the industry. He's one of the few designers I'd label as a true visionary. So, when he says he wants to find a way to add replayability to narrative-driven games, I believe he can do it. The Bioshock games have fantastic storylines and characters, and proves that a first-person shooter format can indeed be home to an engaging, well-written plot. But we are entering an age where stories in games appear to becoming less important, not more. Open-ended games are, by default, less about story - because stories are linear and can't be otherwise - and more about gameplay, and the ongoing trend of blending multiplayer and single-player further impacts any concept of a cohesive story. Unfortunately, gaming wants to go faster and dumber.

So, while I'm sure Levine will continue to produce games with great narratives and memorable characters, adding "replayability" will be a big challenge. The problem is that even if the story is fantastic, the game itself probably won't be anything different. I think we'd need an innovative form of gameplay to go along with a top-notch story; only then will more people be inclined to replay the adventure. I replay old-school RPGs for two reasons: Great stories (despite the amateurish presentation) and turn-based combat, which I can't get anymore.

Personal gaming update

I'm all about Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag right now; expect to see a review later Monday night or Tuesday. It's a huge game, after all, and I had to do two other high-profile reviews last week; Battlefield 4 was great fun but I don't really do online multiplayer, so I'm done with that (unless I opt to play through it again on the PS4), and Batman: Arkham Origins didn't really do it for me. It was a bit of a letdown because even though I'm not a superhero buff, the previous Batman games were absolutely amazing. As for Blackgate for the Vita, it's not that it's a bad game. It's definitely entertaining to some extent; it just isn't good enough, IMO.

I have Killzone: Shadow Fall sitting there, waiting to be played in a few weeks time. And I'm looking forward to trying games like Knack and Contrast. Oh, and Vita owners, if you need an addictive game to play, don't forget that Rainbow Moon is coming. It's catnip for strategy/RPG fanatics!

11/2/2013 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (24 posts)

Saturday, November 02, 2013 @ 10:13:55 PM

I'm 100% on board with Naughty Dog doing something sci-fi. I love sci-fi stuff so I say bring it! I'd want it to be something original of course. Having Uncharted set in space doesn't sound right, and I really don't think they'd go there. I suppose Indiana Jones sorta did with the last movie but it was just like the end and stuff and it didn't take place in space. But I suppose it'd qualify as science fiction for having space aliens.
Other than that I'm sure Naughty Dog will do something really great whatever they do.

I wish Rainbow Moon didn't have such a queer sounding name. But I'll be sure to check it out at some point down the road for Vita.

PGU: Just been playing fighting games this week. It's about all I've had time for. Well, I've also been drawing a lot too. I'm doing DOA tribute art =p

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Saturday, November 02, 2013 @ 10:53:15 PM

Maybe they want to get Drake into a space suit sequence like Squall was, though I can't think of any plausible way to do that.

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Saturday, November 02, 2013 @ 11:10:07 PM

maybe. and I doubt Drake would be less stoic if his girlfriend was playing around in his lap while he just sits there like a dork =p

Last edited by Temjin001 on 11/2/2013 11:10:28 PM

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karneli lll
Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 12:10:43 AM

"I wish Rainbow Moon didn't have such a queer sounding name"

This is the 20th century; cut the homophobia!

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 1:51:08 AM

.....you're a phoebe of thinking people are phoebes. tee hee hee, so fun. You're right, this IS the 20th century. A century of standing up for petty contrivances to feel a modicum of self esteem from behind their computers. Such a sensitive youthful bunch, full of angst against feeling misrepresented in this ever growing clot of mental illness and emotional deficiencies.

on a brighter note. It's daylight savings tomorrow. So set them clocks back ;)
DOn't want to be late for church =)

Last edited by Temjin001 on 11/3/2013 1:52:28 AM

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 1:15:34 AM

I like to pretend that Indiana 4 never happened. One of the worst movies evah!!

Karneli, it's the actually the 21st century and you're not the speech police so please, spare us the PC nonsense. If you don't like the vocabulary one chooses to use, ignore it.

Last edited by Jawknee on 11/3/2013 1:31:12 AM

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 1:21:25 AM

Just to prevent clear up anymore confusion, we're actually in the 21st century. Whether or not Temjin001 is against recognizing gays as not mentally ill, wrong etc. just because of a little comment is his opinion alone to have whether you disagree with it or not. Let's leave it at that since that's not main topic.

I'd think Naughty Dog could work in any setting for their franchise. Look at how well those Racing games were for Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot. I have a set limit on the amount of Sci-Fi genre I can handle (FF8 was a good example, Mass Effect while brilliant exceeds my own limit). Though I think anyone could imagine Drake's whopping and hollering while in space dealing with asteroids and fighting aliens. :p

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 1:42:56 AM

Ah, thanks gents for clearing up the century we're in =p
And for the record, I love homos like how Jesus loves homos.

Anyway guys, this has been a gay o' time but yah lets talk games :)

Edit: and my mental illness comments etc were directed at society as a whole. I just get annoyed by everyone throwing the PC flag when somehow being offended.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 11/3/2013 1:44:56 AM

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 7:56:34 AM

In Squall's defense, in the game he's a 17 year old who never had a girlfriend before, devoted his spare time to studies/training, and has always avoided socializing. If he had mad a move on Rinoa, it would have been out of character if you think about it!

He -really- was a dork. A badass dork.... but still a dork.

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 8:00:03 AM

Oh ya, and Temjin, if you forget to set your clock, you'll be early for church. :p

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 10:44:20 AM

Ugh Underdog you reminded me why I hated FF8s characters >.<

Don't think anyone should get offended by temjin using the word queer, he is like the least offensive guy around.

I think uncharted in space would be.. interesting but I wouldn't like it. It would probably be set up like drake accidentally launching up there seeing as how everything he touches breaks or something.

I do like well done sci fi, I loved Mass Effect 1 for its cool story but the sequels left a lot to be desired imo.

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Monday, November 04, 2013 @ 10:19:05 AM

thanks, Underdog.

..this has been a very educational discussion

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Saturday, November 02, 2013 @ 11:00:58 PM

Don't be concerned Ben, you didn't like Westerns before RDR either.

I'm actually not so big on sci fi games either, even though I love sci fi movies, but if it's something ELSE first then that's fine. Nobody thinks of Dead Space 1 as a sci fi game, it's a horror game.

I can't seem to bring myself to finish Mass Effect 3, it feels... I dunno not good.

I bought Chrono Cross (somehow never played it past the beginning) and I'm trying to relive my youth with that. Also Doom 3, which aside from having no iron sights reminds me why I used to love FPS so much. Beats today's A to B craziness hands down.

Also I hope folks enjoy my "Sunday Meditation" feature, if it catches on I'll try to do them whenever I can. The idea is just to take a calm, thoughtful look at some industry trend or aspect which occurs to me after a long week of intense emotions and spirited discussion.

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Saturday, November 02, 2013 @ 11:09:05 PM

wait. but Doom 3 was all about A to B. Doom 3's expansion pack, Resurrection of Evil was an awesome update. I preferred it to the core campaign.

and jeesh man, no Chrono Cross? I'd think you and Ben would've played EVERY Squaresoft 32-bit jRPG 5x each by now. =p

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Saturday, November 02, 2013 @ 11:24:52 PM

Naw man with Doom 3 you actually have to figure out how to get from place to place by solving environment problems, and there are lots of scary nooks and crannies where things are hidden as well.

Yeah I missed Chrono Cross way back when because I simply hadn't heard of it at the time, I was going from Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy basically. Then it became impossible to find and PS2 had new stuff so it just got lost. I had it running on my Xbox for a little while in emulation but it wasn't good enough. I didn't want to bother sitting in front of my PC to play a game either.

Ultimately decided I better not die without playing it.

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Norrin Radd
Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 12:18:54 AM

I have faith that ND will deliver something spectacular regardless of the setting!

PGU: I've finally put down Borderlands 2 (at least for a little while) and have dove in head first into AC IV! I really am liking it so far. I am not very far in (just got my ship - yay!) but I can tell this will be my fave of the series. Feeling like I need to give III another shot - I gave up on it early.

I'm afraid Next Gen will have to wait until next year for me, though. But there are still a ton of good games on PS3!

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 12:43:08 AM

Rest easy, Ben. Just a rumor:

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 1:11:26 AM

I'm down with a scifi epic from Naughty Dog. They've broke ground in both action and survival horror/drama already. I have faith.

I'm sure Lavine can come up with some great add-ons for the single player experience. I'm excited for the Infinite stuff.

PGU: not much to play at the moment. Or I should say not much I'm excited to play until A Link Between Worlds is released. I've been on a Zelda kick since I finished Wind Waker HD twice. XD Playing through Twilight Princess right now. I might replay A Link to the Past next to prepare for A Link Between Worlds. Or I might replay Skyward Sword. Haven't decided yet.

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Lawless SXE
Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 2:05:01 AM

As I said earlier in the week, I firmly imagine that the SpaceX trip was the TLoU team, whose game likely won't be out until at least Holidays 2015. If it's sci-fi, I'm cool with that. But, I want to clarify why I don't want an Uncharted 4, considering people didn't seem to take kindly to that statement the other day.

To put it simply, I felt that Drake's Deception was, in several ways, inferior to Among Thieves. I'm not saying that that denotes a further drop in quality in a fourth iteration, and perhaps it could go a way towards answering some of the lingering questions that were not cleared up within 3, but I also thought that it had lost some of its predecessor's magic by sticking so closely to its formula. They could change it up for a new entry, of course, but there is only so much alteration that a series can take before the fans lash out against it, and I think that that backlash would come before enough changes are made to make it feel truly new and fresh. I'd rather them release a new IP for the first round PS4 offering, allow the second team to do whatever they want, then bring the first team back to UC4, if they consider it a better option to a sequel to their new IP.

As for the sales argument, it's often stated that people are most receptive to new IP at the beginning of a generation, so ND would do well to follow that ideal. Even if they didn't the name of Naughty Dog holds considerable weight. TLoU has sold something like 3.5 million since release - for a new IP at generation's end. It is quite a drop from UC3's 6 million, but it still puts just about every other new IP from this calendar year to shame. The critical praise probably had something to do with that, but if that was the only factor, I'm 100% certain that Gone Home would have sold more than 50,000 copies to date. I think that, as long as people know that it's coming from the same folks that did Uncharted and TLoU, a lot of them will pick it up.

Also... I want to see where else ND can go with their ideas. They've brought us interesting characters and great locales, so why not offer a completely new mythology to allow both trends to continue.

Moving on to Levine... You're absolutely right that he has his work cut out for him. I've replayed narrative-centric games before, and every time I walk away feeling as though the second time didn't live up to the first. I think if they're going to be replayable, they're going to need to tell more of the story within the gameplay, rather than reserving it wholly and solely for scripted moments. Whether this means a dynamic, evolving story matched by setpieces that aren't always the same, or a more modular approach - in the vein of Beyond (though one where what you actually do matters more) - I really don't know, but it'll be interesting to see how Levine goes about achieving this goal.

Personal Update:
Reading Don Quixote. It's funny, I always envisioned the character as, I dunno, a proper chivalrous knight or whatever, so finding him to be a guy who's just insane was an odd experience for me. But it's a good read so far.
Spent about 7 hours playing Beyond over the past two days. If there's one takeaway from it so far, it is that Quantic Dream could really benefit from altering their approach and instead of crafting these massive 10+ hour games, shrink their scope. For example, the Navajo chapter removed from the core game and expanded upon so that you needn't play the rest of the game to get an idea of Jodie's perspective of the lore could be brilliant.
I'm done. Peace.

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Lawless SXE
Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 4:38:48 AM

Oh, I also got accepted to university this week, so next year's going to be exciting. :) Studying a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Media and Writing and English.

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 8:01:55 AM

Congrats Lawless! University years were some of the best years of my life! Hope you enjoy it just as much!

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 10:07:15 AM

As much as I enjoyed uncharted, I do agree with your sentiment about not making a new one. The way it ended in part three seems like an ending to me. He picked Elena over globe trotting. She would leave him again if he were to do so. So if they do pick up on part four they better not break them up again. It would diminish everything that we worked for in Uncharted 3.

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 5:07:19 AM

well i'll be looking forward to ur AC4 review cos i'm keen for that game but i'm a lil disappointed about batman cos i kinda want to pick the ps3 or vita versions but i think i'll save my money now unfortuately for them.

happy gaming =)

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Sunday, November 03, 2013 @ 7:33:04 PM

I have no problem if Naughty Dog go for a sci-fi in their next game. Savage Starlight maybe?

Finished all the campaign of Resident Evil 6 a week ago. It was just awesome. Yes, there's a few Michael Bay like sequences but the B.O.W designs are great and the boss fights are entertaining. And the story just fits together but not in a not perfect way but still understandable.

Now I'm into Assassin's Creed 3. I can say for now that I'm enjoying it. The sub missions, and the hunting makes it a non boring game. The story concept is there but the acting and dialogue is meh. I don't even like Connor's character. The combat is simple but the tools added more depth and fun. But I'm hating now the slow motion when you counter. I'm going to find a way to turn it off if there is one. By the way there's a lot of freaking bugs but not game breaking as for now.

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