With the release of the PS4 on the horizon, there are rumours abound as to what titles we will see hit the console in the months following its release. One such rumour that has me on a nostalgia high right now was the sorta/kinda/maybe news of a possible new release in the long dormant Destruction Derby series.
Bug Bear Interactive, developers of the FlatOut series, released this video not long ago teasing what looks fiendishly like Destruction Derby.
Since 2004 the series has been out of commission with Reflections Interactive stepping down from the series after the second game in 1997, instead focusing development on their new IP, Driver. The series was then taken over by Studio 33, who at the time was also partly owned by the series developers, Psygnosis. They released the final two games in the series, which still contained the same elements of the previous two games but never managed to capture the same raw thrill that the predecessors did.
While the final game in the series was ultimately a failure leading to its demise, from its cold unwieldy body can be take some positives. Destruction Derby: Arenas proved that the main appeal of the game was the core mechanic and that deviating from the realism of the previous titles meant it lost its rough around the edges appeal. Naturally one would think adding more modes to the game with each iteration would suffice a sequel but what we all really wants was to smash cars into other cars in as crude a nature as possible. The one thing the game has going for it was that it was one of the first games on the PlayStation 2 to include network functionality, paving the way for the Playstation Network we have today.
Some of my biggest memories of the PSOne are of playing countless hours of Destruction Derby and its follow up with a group of friends. We would hold tournaments and parties to see who was best and when it was all done we would start all over again. It was the raucousness of the gameplay and the community spirit that we had created around the game that leaves me with fond memories to this day.
My taste in games have changed a lot since then with the Burnout series being the closest I have come to returning to the genre. While Burnout is a great series, having Destruction Derby back would be to the advantage of Sony, particularly if they can get is as an exclusive title, if only for nostalgia sales. This of course comes on the back of the news that Square Enix registered a domain for Legacy of Kain. Could Sony be looking to games of its past to reignite its fortunes and win the hearts of the gaming community.
So this has me wondering what other Playstation games you think should be resurrected on the new console?
The loop, that is to say the 'inner circle' of knowledge pertaining to any particular subject at present time, is a state in which you can find yourself feeling irrelevant on a near hourly basis. Attaining this continuous state of relevance involves a certain level of dedication towards a given subject, as further broadening your subject range can leave you susceptible to looplessness.
We as a community of 'Core Gamers' stay knowledgeable on the subject of specific games, systems or the broader spectrum of the games industry as a whole. We take into consideration current news and forecasts for platforms and software and form opinions based on the information we have to hand, gathered from sites like Destructoid, physical media or general community interaction. In doing so we are facilitating our own form of 'loop' that we connect with at regular intervals and recently to a greater degree, due to the proliferation of our digital lives on a mobile level.
The problem we face is that our loop at times will not align with that of the greater community, particularly with the release of new games or new platforms. In doing so this creates a form of community segregation, splitting the community between those in the know and those not. This divide brings with it a number of obstacles that those out of the loop must navigate in order to preserve what is fundamentally the heart of gaming, the experience. Our ability to experience a games narrative, itís characters and world is hampered by the loop we perpetuate in the digital era.
The most recent example of this would be with the release of Bioshock Infinite, the latest in the highly rated Bioshock series by the guys and girls over at Irrational Games. The game is receiving extreme critical reception throughout the industry both at an editorial and community level. This in turn is backed by a marketing push with advertisements in all forms of media as well as word of mouth support from community members via blogs, podcasts and ĎWater cooler chatí.
Before a game is even released studios are putting out Ďbehind the scenesí coverage of their games so that they can get you on board the project from an early stage. We have trailers, teaser trailers and teaser trailers for teaser trailers slowly drip feeding us information as well as publicity events directed at the media who in turn will feed us that new information. So before the game is even released we are able to describe what this game is about and pitch it to our friends, family and loved ones without having even played it ourselves
Here in lies the problem. In participating in the community at large, arenít you actively putting yourself at risk of loosing the core experience of the games you intend to play?
Take Easter eggs for example. They are a fun little addition by a developer for dedicated players who happen to discover them in game. This week, Games Radar put out a video that is doing the rounds in the community about secret messages in the ambient noise during sections of Bioshock Infinite. There are numerous game references and Easter eggs littered throughout Borderlands 2, which with a few days were being discussed on podcasts, vlogs and articles. While these discoveries are great little things for the community to discuss, does it not distill the magic of discovering them yourself in the context of the game?
The kind of information described in these articles of course goes in to spoiler territory, particularly when discussions converge on the nature of choices and outcomes presented to the player during games, a more recent example of this being the topic of TellTaleís The Walking Dead. I only recently got around to picking up the whole season last month and I havenít started episode 4 yet. Immediately I knew I wanted to experience this game based on the reviews from both Destructoid and the community at large but due to a lack of time and money I was unable to jump on-board with everyone else. While the community was converging on what would be Game of the Year for most outlets, I was ducking and diving around discussion, articles and podcasts to make sure I am still able to enjoy the core experience.
Of course, there will always be someone who has completed a game before you as is the case with most things in life. While you may not know how the Mass Effect trilogy concludes it is important that you enjoy your time in that world, experiencing how the story comes to a close, for better or worse some may say. Just look at the retro community. Those games have been completed over and over, yet there is still a huge market for re-releases in some circles, as they bring the experience to a new audience while giving others the opportunity to relieve past memories.
The community side of the games industry can help extend the experiences you have with a game due to the interactive nature of the medium. How you interact with the community should not be to the detriment of the overall enjoyment of a gaming experience. With new technologies such as Sonyís PS4 and the implications of its social networking philosophy we will be seeing new ways to interact with both games and the community. How these new experiences will effect the way we play games is unknown but it will be important to keep the magic of discovery that permeates our pastime.
What is it about the pursuit of gaming as a hobby that leads me to continually buy games when I know well enough that there is already a growing stack of other games waiting for me back home? Is it the reassuring voice in the back of my head telling me that "you will get around to playing them all", as if I am going to procure the ability to create a clone of myself who can handle my real life commitments while I make my way blissfully through the backlog? Is it a fear that if I don't buy this game at this very moment it will some how end up disappearing from shelves due to court order like Too Human? Or is it an addiction that simply needs to be fed in order to feel like I can communicate in this community as a 'Gamer', remaining relevant while saving myself from inevitable spoilers (I still haven't got around to The Walking Dead yet)?
Whatever the motive behind the stack of games looming overhead I know I am not alone in my plight. There are a number of web shows dealing with this very subject, with the host playing through their own backlog for your viewing pleasure so that you don't have to deal with your own backlog problems, essentially escapism from your escapism. Even Destructoid used to have it's own short-lived backlog show until a couple of years ago, ingeniously titled Backlog.
If you are eager to take on the 'challenge', you will find a wealth of blogs dedicated to giving you the holy grail with regards to your backlog...."TEN TIPS TO HANDLING YOUR BACKLOG" "HOW TO KEEP YOUR BACKLOG UNDER CONTROL" "SERIOUSLY, YOU NEED TO READ THIS OR YOU WILL DIE FROM HAVING TOO MANY GAMES!". As if this is a problem foretold by the gods themselves and that we as humans have been incapable of dealing with it since the dawn of this epidemic until now.
Of course the simple answer to clearing the pile of shame is to simply play the games you have. This will of course reduce the games you have in your backlog much like finishing anything, taking differing amounts of time depending on the genre specific background of the titles. Obviously, having a backlog consisting of RPG's with take considerably longer to get through compared to a backlog of FPS's. But by simply playing our games we will eventually get through them. Right?
Well with Blockbuster having a going out of business sale I 'had' to buy Yakuza 4 and Dishonored because "they will never be that cheap again!" at £5 and £6 respectively. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the failing high street stores that are just throwing games my way at super cheap prices that I have to have because "they will never be that cheap again!". Oh and let's not forget the amazing service that is Playstation Plus, giving me more games to add to the pile each month. Couple that with Steam sales and flash sales on other sites and you would think that I am amassing games for the sole purpose of starting my own games museum with both a physical and online presence in order to preserve their legacy.
Of course there comes a time when no more money can be spent either because there is no money left to be spent or I am simply content in the knowledge that there are no games on the market that I need to be playing at this very second. Okay that last one is a lie, because there is always a game that I want on some platform or another and we all know you can never have enough games right?
So you wake up early Saturday morning, smile beaming across your probably drool covered face knowing that you have nothing planned for the entire weekend except to generally relax and catch up on the games in your backlog. Not sure what game to play yet you go grab a drink and snacks ready to settle in with the game of your choice. You know that game. The one you are about to play. Oh crap what is it? Oh wait no it is the other one! Or was it......Fuck! WHY CAN'T I JUST CHOOSE A GAME TO PLAY OUT OF THE 20 GAMES I HAVE WAITING FOR ME!!!!!!
I started writing this morning hoping that by the time I had published this I would have decided on a game and I am still no closer to choosing something. Please tell me I am not the only one?
I should note that I am currently working in Hong Kong but am native to England so the games available to me, and their release dates, might be different to you.
With the release of the Playstation Vita, Sony unveiled a handheld console nearly as powerful as itís home console brother with enough interesting features to help it stand out as a great piece of kit. Since itís February western release we have had few genuinely great exclusives arrive on the platform that have added reason to actually investing. Yet even those vita purists who insist it is the best thing since Joss Whedons conception have trouble being able to convince those around them that it is value for money.
The arguments against a Vita purchase range from ďTHEY HAZ NO GAMEZĒ to the perfectly valid point that unless you actually travel a whole lot or donít own a home console already then why would you want to spend £250 to play similar games on a smaller screen which still arenít as great looking as the console version. Sure, some of the exclusives are great like Gravity Rush, and Little Big Planet feels like it has always belonged on the Vita platform. So when it comes down to games like the longwinded Playstation All-Stars Battle Royal(PSASBR) that will be released on both the Vita and the PS3, why would you pick up the vita version if you already own a ps3? Well Sony has you covered.
During this yearís Gamescom, Sony officially announced their Cross-Buy program in an effort to boost sales of the Vita and appease those who have already invested in their handheld and were beginning to feel shortchanged. Essentially the program revolves around the idea that if you buy a certain game that is part of the Cross-Buy program (and thus also incorporates Cross-Play and Cross Save) for one platform, you will get a free copy for the other platform. So in theory, if you buy a copy of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time on the PS3, you will also get a copy of the game for the Vita for free. Sounds great right?
This is where things get a little confusing. Information about Cross-Buy hasnít exactly been clear with all kinds of information out there. People have been wondering if you have to buy the more expensive PS3 version of the game to get the Vita version for free, or whether they can just buy the cheaper Vita version and get the more expensive PS3 version free. Common sense says it is the former but common sense is thrown out the window in this case with so much miscommunication abound.
Also Sony themselves have been confusing matters further by stating that the newly announced Hot Shots Golf for the PS3 would also feature Cross-Buy. But rather than give those who already own the Vita version a free copy they are citing a price reduction on the other copy. That is still better than paying full price for the game again with itís extra content but why feature it as part of the cross buy program unless the program simply refers to some games offering a free copy and others offering a discount on the other copy.
This brings me to retailersí involvement in the Cross-Buy program, of which there doesnít seem to be any. With the release of PSASBR next month I thought I would check if online retailers offered any clarity on this Cross-Buy confusion. I looked on Amazon, The Hut, Game and Play.com and found that there was no mention of Cross-Buy anywhere on the product pages for either the PS3 or Vita versions. I even tried American sites like GameStop who again made no mention of it except for on the tiny product image there is a little sticker on the box that says Cross-Buy if you look really closely. Walmart even has the tenacity to inform me that it is ďAlso coming out on the PlayStation Vita.Ē. Well, Iíll go ahead and buy both, thanks for telling me!
The only online store that makes a brief mention of it was ShopTo.net stating at the very bottom of the page, ď*Cross-buy content only available for download once via PlayStation Store.Ē Unless you know what Cross-Buy means this would mean nothing to you as it is not even explained on the site and here lies the problem. Why would retailers want to advertise that if you buy one version of the game then you get the other one free?
Come Christmas time Jack is going to wake up to a PS3 copy of PSASBR and Jill will have herself a Vita copy of PSASBR. Except these will both be physical copies because parents are not clued into the Cross-Buy program (Nor Playstation themselves) and so they will potentially have 4 copies of the same game in their house.
Sony is clearly working at trying to provide reasons for you to pick up a Vita but is maybe going about it the wrong way. I think the idea of Cross-Buy is great and shows Sony is thinking about ways to improve their service, but clearly they still have some way to go.
What do you think of Cross-Play and will you be taking part in the scheme if you have both devices? Let me know down below!