The year 2012 is here now, and itís a whole new year for gaming. Looking back at 2011 and as far as 2004 when the Nintendo DS first kick start the 7th generation (HD era); I have to say that last generation of gaming was pretty good. Now before I continue, I bet many of you are confuse already. What do you mean HD era as last gen? What do you mean the DS kick start the HD era of gaming? Well, it depends on how a person looks at gaming. I tend to see gaming as a whole and not just a console thing. I believe portables are just as big as home consoles and with the launch of the 3DS and PS Vita in Japan; I think that the next gen has already started with the Wii U possibly coming this year and Microsoft and Sony may announce their new consoles this year. I do fit PC in there too, but PCs evolve so quickly itís hard to put them in a generation. However, in this blog I won't speak of the HD-era in the past tense for I know it is still going on and will continue for some more years. Anyway, recently Iíve been reflecting on the gaming industry since the early days of the HD era up to this point and if anyone who had read my earlier blogs may remember I have been pretty tough in my opinions. Though my criticism still stands, I did find quite of few positives that made me pleased with the 7th gen of gaming over the 6th generation (128-bit era).
What I thought about the 128- bit era
Now, I have to be honest. The 128 bit era did not sit well with me at all. As crazy as it may sound I did not like the PS2 even though it held the biggest library of games. To me the PS2 started that hardcore vs casual bullcrap. Though, I think the concept was more flesh out this gen with the Wii being seen as the casual console and Xbox&PS3 as the hardcore machines. Even though, I'm a Nintendo fan boy and I'm not a shame to admit, I didn't care for my Gamecube. I thought most of my Gamecube games were like "meh." I didn't hate my Gamecube, but there were only a few games that "wow" me. The only system I personally think was the best in that era was the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast had the best line up of games to me. Many people had to agree Sonic Adventure 1&2, Power Stone 1&2, Jet Grind Radio, a bunch of arcade perfect titles, the Dreamcast at the time had it going on. Of course, there was Shenmue. I can spend a whole day writing an article on how great that game was. I seriously weep for anyone who has not played that game before, for they have not played a true adventure game. I hope that it will be re-release for the Xbox live arcade and PSN someday. I wish that Sega had stayed in competition long enough to compete with Nintendo and Microsoft. Despite its limitation, I believe it wouldíve had a huge library of great games and who knows Shenmue 3 couldíve made it to the console. With the exception of the Dreamcast, the 128 bit era was like "meh". The way I think about the 6th generation is the way I thought about Super Mario Sunshine; A solid game but, nothing that amazed me. To me that is saying something when a Mario game of a generation is just an average game. But the coming of the HD era of gaming brought a lot of surprises as well as flaws that made it the most interesting era to date.
Online videogame marketplace
Now that the brooding is out of the way for the moment, what separates the 7th gen from the 6th is the amount of innovation. Now to be honest I wasn't too impress with the Wii at first, mainly because of the disappointment of the Gamecube. Even, when Nintendo showcase motion control for the first time, I didn't really care. It was until the line of games being announced when I got more interested. By the time E3 06' ended, I was set on getting a Wii. Now I do like motion controls and somewhat still do, but at the time of 2006 I was really excited for the games that were announced with motion control. The Wii have a great library of games, many in which have some great innovative motion controls. Now at this point I see motion controls some what gimmicky and have moved on with the excitement, but I believe the Wii is a great system of pure innovation. I also think the Kinect which I own, has great innovation. I'm just hoping that companies will be able to harness Kinect's true potential and put out some really awesome games. Though I have some criticism about videogame consoles online connectivity; I do like the online videogame marketplace. I think it's a great way of putting out really good Indie games without big and small companies spending millions of dollars on a title. I'm a big fan of indie games. I also like all three systems game marketplace for retro games. I'm a huge retro nut and I love the library of classic games that Nintendo and Xbox have on their services. Iím sure this feature is here to stay and I will be glad to see in the next gen consoles. Of course the most important reason to own a videogame console is the games. The awesome games I have played for all three consoles can lie under the category of innovation. With the improvement on computer hardware in consoles come the increase possibilities of creativity games. Games that were made for this gen could not be possibly made for the gen before it. Take L.A Noire for example, this couldíve not been made on the PS2 or even Xbox. Though I only played it briefly, I was impressed with the facial engine that allowed a person to tell if someone was lying or not. I would so love to have a Batman game that would use this. That game to me set the bar on detective games and I hope more games use and improve upon this engine. I just used L.A Noire as a prime example of the creativity that only these powerful consoles can produce. Power aside the heart of gaming from this gen for me is the Wii. I think the Wii really pushed game designers creative minds to make very creative games without the use of advance hardware. Since the Wii wasnít on par with Xbox and playstation in terms of hardware, game designers had to work hard into making games that would catch the publicís eyes. I have over 50+ games for the Wii which I enjoy playing a lot, more than any other console this gen.
Useless apps for Xbox at least
Shovel ware of so called Hardware games
DLC and online passes
Greed of gaming companies
I canít gripe too much about these cons because one I would need to write two or three blogs to do this and two I have done it in earlier blogs if you wish to check them out. Anyway, Iím not a big fan of over the top online services with a million of useless apps like facebook and twitter on Xbox. Though many would probably disagree, I find that the Wii had the best online service because of its simplicity. The only app I care about for the Wii and 360 is Netflix, though I wouldnít mind a separate Youtube channel on the Wii. I donít really care about HD graphics except if it is cartoon or Cel-shaded HD graphics. Oh but, donít get me started about the greed of some gaming companies ďcoughĒ (Capcom) and their DLC and online passes. Even though there are a lot more cons to over weigh the pros to me, those few pros are too great to be over shadow by the cons. Those pros change the gaming industry drastically in a way I think for the better. To get to the core of my blog, as I analyze the pros and cons, I realize that a few of those cons didnít really apply to me. I donít play online very much, so I donít worry too much about online passes. I donít buy any of the Call of Duties, Rock Bands, Assassin Creeds or Uncharted games etc. I donít use facebook or twitter on Xbox. I bought the Wii and Xbox purely for the games and well some online features are great, I mainly care about the games. Many games this gen did amaze me in more ways than the games in the 128 bit era ever could. So in the end, though my gripes were valid, I canít honestly condemn this whole generation of gaming over some features I donít even use.
So in short I believe that the HD era of gaming is a great era. It comes with its flaws, but I think the flaws are overshadowed by the few amazing pros I discovered. I hope that these pros stay alive and well in this new era of gaming. Iím looking forward to the power of the upcoming gen consoles. I know that many innovative and outstandingly design games will come if game designers used their creativity to the fullest. I say the hardware is the limit.