Rather than drone on with an intro delving into this generation, I'll jump straight to the meat of this blog. Once again, I'll be mostly looking at the PS3 and Xbox 360, but there'll be some talk of the Wii. Also, bear in mind this is just my opinion, don't take it all as fact. Now let's look at why this generation sucked.
OVER-ABUNDANCE OF SEQUELS
This was the generation that brought us the era of yearly sequels. This naturally brings the feeling of sequels being rushed or short, quite often using the same engine without really trying anything new. The series most often attacked for this is Call of Duty, which has been consistently releasing sequels every year for the last few years, with each title feeling fairly similar to it's predecessor. The campaigns are often dull and repetitive, with the multi-player having slight evolution over the previous title.
Another title that has begun having yearly releases is Assassin's Creed. This series now gets releases every year, whether it be a full sequel like Assassin's Creed 4, or just a continuation of a game, like Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. There has been a slow decline in the review scores the games get, seeming to indicate either fatigue with series or a decline in quality. Whilst it's currently small, it still isn't a good indicator of the future of the series.
Obviously, most sequels are highly anticipated by fans, but would the case be the same if all games got sequels every year? Especially now that we have DLC that can increase a game's lifespan a lot more. These games get DLC almost all year round, then the new game gets released. Is it really necessary?
One of the most hated things I've seen this generation has been motion controls being implemented when they aren't necessary. Motion controls are not really a new thing, but this generation saw them being implemented more heavily than ever before. The easy assumption for why they've become so prevalent is because of the Wii. Nintendo took a risk and released a console that concentrated on motion controls. This sold well, as it looked instantly fun to the average family. Naturally, Microsoft and Sony saw this success and made their own versions.
This led to games that require motion controls, or implementation of motion controls into games where they aren't necessary. Whilst they might sell well, it get's annoying if there is a game that looks like it could be quite interesting until you realise you need to purchase either the Kinect or Playstation Move to actually use it.
Personally, my room is too small for the Kinect. I was gifted one for a birthday, but if I try to use it, it tells me it needs to be further back. If I had bought it myself, I would have been irritated that it was just a waste of money effectively. It annoys me that some games cannot be played without the Kinect, Like Fable: The Journey or Rise of Nightmares.
POINTLESS/ ON-DISC DLC
In my previous blog, I wrote about how DLC has been used to add extra story to games, or make them more interesting. However, there are two things about DLC that really get annoying. DLC that is already on the disc, and DLC that is pointless.
On-disc DLC is when the DLC is not really downloaded, you instead just download an unlock for said content. This can usually be seen when a piece of DLC is less than 1MB, as there is not much needed to download. The reason this is annoying is because, if it was already included on the disc, why not make it part of the game? The reason is simple: more money. By releasing it as DLC, more money is made from game.
I'm aware that the usual justification for on-disc DLC is that it is necessary for multi-player (i.e. extra characters in a fighting game), but that doesn't mean it should be charged for.
Pointless DLC is when the DLC doesn't really do anything, and it just seems to have been released to get a couple of extra bucks for something that could've been released for free. The biggest culprit of this was probably Saint's Row the Third, which released 13 packs of content that didn't add too much to the game, such as a few new vehicles or clothes. This content could have been added for free, much like Minecraft's constant updates of new content, but was instead released as DLC.
Possibly the worst part of the Saint's Row the Third DLC was the Invincible pack, which added extra cheats to use. This was just low in my opinion, as cheats shouldn't be something you have to pay for. You already get penalised in most games for using cheats (blocked achievements, dodgy save files), but making gamers pay to use them is a step too far.
One of the most pointless things to come out of this generation was the Avatar/Mii. Originally released on the Wii, a Mii is a digital representation of the player that can sometimes be used as a character in games. Microsoft took this a step further with the Avatar.
Much more customisable than a Mii, an Avatar can not only have it's appearance customised, but also it's clothes, which leads to the Avatar Marketplace. A place where you can buy virtual clothes for a virtual avatar of you. An this stuff can be several pounds per item. Of all the ways this generation has been money-grabbing, this is one of the worst.
Obviously, you don't have to buy anything, but the thing is quite a few of these are quite clearly aimed at kids, who will likely bug their parents into buying items for them, when said items will hardly be seen by anyone, and are pointless cosmetic items. I'm sure there will be people who'll say I get too worked up over this, but come on. Is this really necessary?
HATRED OF PRE-OWNED & THE SEASON PASS
Pre-owned games have been around for a long time. Like, a really long time. Whether it be giving games to friends, selling them at a garage sale, or trading them in, pre-owned is not a new idea. Practically every console in history that has used physical copies of games has had the possibility of pre-owned games, yet it was this generation that chose them as a target for why games don't necessarily reach expectations.
If a games company does badly and loses money/ goes under, either pre-owned games or piracy are blamed. The games companies choose to blame the consumer, rather than blame over-inflated budgets or overly high expectations. The pre-owned games market has suddenly become this huge evil, yet it can easily beneficial. If I hadn't got my pre-owned copy of Oblivion, I wouldn't have bought all the DLC for it, then got Skyrim brand new and all of it's DLC. If I hadn't traded in my copy of Uncharted 3, I wouldn't have been able to afford The Last of Us. Trading in my games has let me buy new games, and led to me spending more money on new content.
In this generation, pre-owned is probably at it's most friendly as far as games companies are concerned, since even if you get a pre-owned copy you can buy the DLC fresh online. Even on pre-owned titles, companies can still get profit. There are alos games on demand that can't be traded in, so there is no chance of companies losing profit. And yet it was this generation that brought us the online pass.
The online pass is a code that comes with some new games that allows the player to use the multi-player. Without an online pass, you can't use the game online, meaning people who get pre-owned copies can't play the multi-player. Instead, they have to buy the online pass as well, meaning that games companies still make a profit, on top of any DLC that is purchased. EA have recently started to get rid of online passes, but that still doesn't excuse this generation from them.
The thing is though, in previous generations there have been no online passes, and little DLC, yet pre-owned wasn't really spoken about. Other industries have a second hand market, from music and DVD's to houses and cars. Yet it is only video games where it is a huge problem.
I'm going to list here a bunch of extra things that this generation had that sucked, but I don't really have the space to go into detail about them.
-Brown and gritty games became the norm
-All games require horde mode
-All games require online multi-player
-Forget about the campaign, just concentrate on the multi-player
-Red Ring of Death/ Yellow Light of Death
-Ride to Hell: Retribution existed
So, was this generation good? Was it bad? Somewhere in between? Honestly, I think it was kind of weak. This generation was less about the games, and more about just making money without a care about the consumer, which upsets me. Quite a few people have predicted that there will be another crash, like the famous one in 1983, and the video game industry will mostly die, leaving indies left standing. I really hope it doesn't come to this, but if it does, we can probably say it began with this generation.
(Note: This is the first part of a two-part blog. Come back tomorrow for 'Why this generation of consoles was one of the worst')
With the coming release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it is safe to say that the seventh generation of consoles is coming to a close. While games will be likely be made for the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii for the next few years, the release flow will reduce to a slow trickle as the new consoles dominate the market. So perhaps now is the best time to look back and analyse this generation of consoles, and decide if it was a good time for gaming.
For the majority of this blog, I'll be looking at the PS3 and 360, since these were the consoles I used the most. Bear in mind that this is just my opinion, so try not to get too worked up if you don't agree with me. Now let's get to why this generation was fantastic.
Let's start off with one of the easier things to talk about: the games themselves. This generation saw some of the biggest and best games we've ever seen. From the Saint's Row games to The Elder Scrolls IV and V, from Bioshock to Uncharted, this generation saw the release of some fantastic titles. So many things were improved from the last generation as far as elements of games go, from the scale of the worlds, to the story-lines, to the voice acting.
Despite what some may say, this generation proved that new IP can work and be fantastic. Just look at some of the highest rated titles on Metacritic, and it's easy to see that new IP can be fantastic. you have Bioshock, Portal/ Portal 2, Mass Effect 2, Gears of War, Uncharted 2, LittleBigPlanet, The Last of Us and Journey. These are all games that had their first iterations released during this generation, and already several of them are seen as classics. Personally, one of my favourite games of all time is Dishonored, which was a new IP.
However, we shouldn't forget that old IPs also had fantastic new games in this generation. This generation brought us titles like GTA IV, CoD: MW, MGS IV, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion/ Skyrim, God of War III, Halo 3 and Fallout 3. These games might have had a much lesser impact had they been released on older consoles, and worked very well on the PS3 or 360.
All in all, there were some amazing titles released generation, and it's going to be very hard for the next generation to top the seventh generation
With the release of the Xbox 360, a new feature was implemented into all games. The Achievement system is a feature that allows gamers to see their progress in any game they've played, compare with their progress with friends, and try to prove that they're the best gamer out there. Every game has a set of achievements for the player to unlock by doing various activities, from completing the game, to killing a set amount of enemies, to finding a secret area.
The PS3 later implemented it's own version of the achievement system, using trophies instead. Fundamentally similar to the Xbox's system, trophies used bronze, silver, gold and platinum to indicate how hard a trophy is, as opposed to the gamerscore used by the Xbox.
Achievements were fantastic because not only did they allow you to prove that you were good at a game, but they also challenged you to try doing things in games that you would normally never consider. As an example, achievements convinced me to try playing through Dishonored without getting caught or killing anyone. I would normally not bother with this, but I decided to try for the achievement, and wound up getting a lot more enjoyment out of the game.
Gamerscore is also a fantastic concept for making someone play more games. I'll often see that one of my friends has a score that is higher than mine, so I'll try to chase it, which means playing more games and attempting to get all of the achievements I can. Even if you don't really play competitively, you can still get enjoyment from trying to max your gamerscore.
One of the features that I love about my Xbox 360 is the Xbox Live Arcade. This is an area you can go to on the console that allows you to purchase full games to download onto your console. These can range from small indie games to full retail games with everything in between, all downloadable instantly to your console.
This is a fantastic feature because it means you don't even have to leave the house to get new games. You don't have to wait 3-5 days for a game to arrive in the mail. You just press a button, wait for your game to download, and you're sorted. Some of the games available as just 'Arcade titles' are fantastic too. You have titles such as Braid, Limbo, Trials Evolution, Minecraft 360 Edition, Pac-Man CE DX and The Walking Dead, all available for a lot less than a retail game. This is without delving into the huge selection of Indie titles available on the console, costing as little as 50p and sometimes being absolutely brilliant (see 'I Made A Game With Zombies In It').
The XBLA Marketplace also sells 'Games on Demand', which are full retail games available for download. Whilst they quite often are released a while after the disc copy, they are still useful if you want to be able to play a game without ever bothering with a disc. You can also purchase original Xbox games from the marketplace, allowing you to catch up on titles you may have missed from the Sixth generation of consoles.
The Playstation 3 also has a storefront, however I have very little experience with this as I usually use my Xbox for downloading titles.
Online play across the internet was available as far back as the Dreamcast, however it only fully took off during this generation. The ability to play multiplayer games with random people from across the globe is at the easiest level it has ever been as far as consoles are concerned. It is now at the point that there will be games released that either have a heavy focus on multiplayer, or only feature multiplayer with no single player campaign.
The ease of playing a multiplayer game with a bunch of randomers is great for people who don't really get friends round that often. I don't have too many friends who are into the same games as me, and those that do don't live very close to me. This isn't a problem though, because I can simply go online and either play with my friends who live far away, or play with completely random people that I've never met before. I don't have to play alone any more.
Whilst Microsoft charges you to play online multiplayer, forcing you to use Xbox Live Gold to play online, Sony doesn't charge you to use the Playstation Network, meaning that it is incredibly easy to get online, as long as you have an internet connection.
I think it is worth mentioning that Downloadable Content can be an extremely useful feature for some games, allowing you to purchase extra missions or maps for games, sometimes giving you a full extra story. I'm aware that there were Expansion packs before DLC, but they were nowhere near as common for console games.
It's also worth mentioning PlayStation Plus, a service that allows you instant access to a library of games for about the price of a retail game (for a year's access). It gives other benefits too, such as cloud storage. I haven't used it myself, so don't have the best knowledge of the system, but I think it looks to be pretty good.
Keeping in mind all of these features, it looks like this generation may have been one of the best, if not the best. The games were better, the online services more accessible and we had access to downloadable games and content. What's not to love?
Well, as the case may be, a lot of stuff is not to love. Return tomorrow to find out why I think this console generation was one of the worst.
Apologies for not including things about the Wii, and being minimal with the PS3. I mostly used the 360 and PC during this generation, so have the most experience with those. I didn't want to bring PC into a debate on consoles. For the same reason, I didn't mention the DS and PSP. Thanks for reading!
Okay, so this is my first time writing a blog. I figured I'd write about something I've been having a lot of experience with recently - The Shattered.
What is The Shattered?
For those that don't know, The Shattered is made up of fans of Destructoid's gaming podcast, Podtoid. Given the name 'The Shattered' by Jim Sterling in Podtoid 249, on the surface they appear to generally be insane degenerates. Dig a little deeper though, and there's a lot more to this fanbase than you might think.
I first began to listen to Podtoid around about podcast 248. For anyone who hasn't listened to Podtoid, it's a weekly podcast hosted by Jim Sterling, Conrad Zimmerman and Jonathan Holmes. Some of the most popular features include film pitches for Willem Dafoe, texts from Trent Reznor, ideas for Jonathan Holmes, and, very rarely, video game talk. The podcast is such a hit, in my opinion, because of the chemistry between the three hosts. It's probably the most hilarious podcast I listen to, and easily the highlight of my week.
In podcast 249, Jim talks about how some fans have been sending him 'cum tributes' (look it up if you don't know what they are), and how the fans often ask him 'Where's Podtoid?', to the point of just doing it to be annoying. He then goes on to christen the fans 'The Shattered', later saying they were once vaguely human.
Why are they the best?
Now, this may give the impression that these people are degenerates who are detrimental to society. And looking at the Facebook group(s), that idea may just be strengthened. However, this is possibly the greatest single group of people I've spoken to online.
Looking on the Facebook groups 'Podtoid' and 'Podtoid - with Blackjack and Hookers', there's pretty much always a conversation going on to join in with. Sometimes it can be serious talk, sometimes really stupid. However, no matter the conversation, it's easy to join in and give your say, and for the most part people will be accepting of you and let you have your say.
I feel like one of the biggest advantages of the group is that since a lot of the guys and girls are into weird stuff, or accepting of weird stuff, they'll be accepting of someone whether they're completely normal or practically insane.
Another pretty sweet thing about the Shattered is the fanart they produce is fantastic. From making move posters of Willem Dafoe movie pitches, to art based on things Sterling says, to just putting the Podtoid hosts into other movies, there's tons of art out there, and it's pretty much all hilarious.
I decided I wanted to wrote this blog after a particular conversation on 'Podtoid - with Blackjack and Hookers'. I've been having a pretty bad time recently with my personal life, and felt pretty bad last night. I ended up asking for advice on what to do, asking my fellow Shattered for some words of wisdom since I feel I can trust these guys. I was greeted by a group of people giving me advice and being friendly, actually trying to help out rather than insult me, which I would expect from some other groups.
These guys might seem like they're weird, or sick, or just generally bad apples, but get to know them, and they can be the nicest guys in the world, happy to joke with you, give advice, and for the most part be very welcoming to you. After a few weeks experiencing the Shattered Facebook groups, I feel safe to day it is the greatest group of fans I've ever talked to on the internet.
I'd like to give a quick shout-out to some of the coolest guys from the two groups: Mattias Sjöstrand, Brian Green, Sam Morris, Luce X Leclair, and countless others. You guys make The Shattered for me.
For those that want to know more about the Shattered/ Podtoid, check podtoid.wikia.com. Check out the Podtoid group and the Podtoid - with Blackjack and Hookers group on Facebook, and also give a listen to The Shattered Podcast, ShatteredDome and PodTea'd podcasts