Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Most Grumble-Worthy Things about the New Generation (so far)

The new generation of consoles has brought a lot of excitement from the gaming audience. Gamers were ready for the successors to the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360, so, naturally, everyone flocked to get their new consoles upon release. As with any new generation of consoles, however, there have been a fair amount of growing pains that came with the transition. Here are 5 of the most annoying aspects of the new generation so far.

Don't let the image fool you; this game isn't cool.

Knack is one of the most disappointing games to come along in a while. Neither completely terrible nor particularly good, Knack sits atop the throne of mediocrity if viewed in a vacuum. However, Knack had been built up as a flagship release by Sony and was the gaming world’s first glimpse at the PS4. Legendary developer Mark Cerny (whose work includes Sonic 2, Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and Clank, and Jak and Daxter) was working on it with the Sony Japan Team. It was poised to be a resurrection of the 3D platformer on the Playstation. What gamers got upon the launch of the PS4 was a linear, boring, and simplified version of God of War. The game doesn’t trust the player to do anything that isn't running forward and beating up bad guys. There’s little exploration, very few reasons to explore when given the opportunity, and a lackluster story. To the game’s credit, it does look nice and the particle effects are impressive, but the game itself simply isn't worth the trouble. However, Knack sold fairly well upon release, so we may get a sequel that addresses the problems of the title and gives gamers the platformer they wanted in the first place.
Don't try to look all innocent. You know what you did.

Cross Gen Releases

This may be unfair to people who haven’t made the jump to next gen yet, but it seems that every high profile release for PS4 and Xbox One has been accompanied by a release on those consoles' predecessors. This is an unfortunate side effect of publishers wanting to mitigate risk by releasing the biggest titles on consoles they know millions already own. However, this seems to be flawed logic since both the PS4 and Xbox One have sold between 4 and 6 million units each. It’s inevitable that these types of releases will die out, but until they do, gamers will deal with developers who may have to scale back their aspirations to accommodate older hardware. Things are unlikely to turn out as badly as Mercenaries 2, but the real next gen experience may be held back by these types of releases.

Perhaps Assassin's Creed 4 could have looked even better if developed solely for next gen.

Delays, Delays, Delays
Watch Dogs looks great, but it suffered an unfortunate last minute delay.
This has been a troubling trend since before the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One. Not only are major releases like Watch Dogs being pushed back at the last minute, but equally high profile games like Driveclub are being completely reworked when they were originally announced as launch titles for next gen systems. Since there’s a deluge of releases slated for some nebulous time this year, it’s likely we’ll see another round of delays before the holiday season arrives. Delays aren’t evil things in and of themselves; if a developer needs more time to finish a game, they should have it. I want to play the best version of what the developers envisioned; however, it shouldn’t be too much to ask for the publishers and developers to be sure of their release dates before announcing them.

Infamous Second Son missed its initial launch date.

The Wii U

Before the Nintendo fans get their pitchforks ready, I should really say that I like Nintendo, and I’m rooting for the Wii U to be a successful console; however, the console is in trouble, and the company has been so monumentally important to gaming that it’s impossible to not want them to right the ship. The Wii may go down in history as the console that saved Nintendo, so it’s understandable for the company to attempt to replicate the philosophy they employed for their last gen system. By using older hardware with a unique controller, Nintendo could offset costs and still bring in gamers with innovation. However, audiences don’t seem to be taking to the tablet as well as they took to the motion controls of the Wii, and as a result, the company is struggling to find a successful way to market the Wii U, and third party support seems to be dwindling. To be clear, Nintendo is nowhere near catastrophe, and it’s likely they’ll find their market when more high profile games are released. In the interim, however, it’s difficult to watch Nintendo be largely ignored in the gaming narrative.

The tablet controller is cool but hasn't grabbed people just yet.

Mandatory Installs
Having to install a game used to be something that console gamers could hold over the PC gaming crowd’s head. Being able to just pop a disk into your respective system and play was a thing of beauty. Now, games must be installed no matter what before play can begin. Obviously, the installation helps with load times and various other factors, but the fact that it isn't even an option now is a little off putting. The disk has been essentially reduced to an authentication device. Once the game is on your console, installation is a non-issue, but it’s an unfortunate barrier between the player and immediate play. Also, that 500 GB HDD that seemed ludicrously huge when you bought your next gen system is filling up pretty darn fast. With each console only having limited number of models, the buyer’s memory options are pretty small, so this is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed with the new generation of consoles.
You'll see this for a bit before you can start your new game.

 So far, no next gen system has come up with a good way to display content on screen. Sure, the interfaces of the Wii, PS3, and 360 weren’t the best, but at least they were navigable. The PS4’s gets more out of hand with each new game installed on the system; the Xbox One’s has to be reconfigured whenever new favorites are added; and the Wii U’s is serviceable but is limited by what is supported on the system. It’s easy to understand the philosophy of all 3 companies. Sony and Nintendo want to bring the games front and center (with mixed results) and the Xbox One wants to be the all in one entertainment center; however, if Apple has taught the tech world anything, it’s that people want interfaces to be as simple as possible, and so far none of the big 3 seem to be up to that challenge. We saw Microsoft revamp the 360's interface multiple times, so it's not out of the question that things can be shaken up for this generation as well.

It's important to note that even though there are minor annoyances with the new generation of consoles, there's still way more to love than complain about them. Games look better than ever, and there are a ton of promising new games coming for each machine, and the next generation has only just begun. Now if we could just iron out the few problems we have so far, we'll be in good shape. 

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