Well E3 came and went and I think we've all seen at least a few games that piqued our interest. With so much going on, it's hard to keep track of all the release dates, trailers and announcements. But I got to thinking about what was presented last week and I stopped to think about what stuck out the most and why.
There's no doubt there's an art form to how games are presented. When a game comes across poorly, we talk about it. We tend to label and dismiss it for one reason or anther, and this is before there's actual gameplay presented, let alone released so we can have a proper discussion. The lack of open mindedness of gamers has often been a point of frustration. Far too many games have had poor receptiion because it wasn't the game we were expecting, or it tried to do something different, sometimes even an art style can turn us off.
I understand disapointment, I understand when it's a clear cut direction that a developer needs to go with a franchise only to see them go and do something else. What I don't understand is when a game is good despite beng different than what's expected, that people still dislike it. In my experience, some of the best games I've played are ones I didn't know what to expect. So I've learned to be a little more open minded. I'm stilll cautious before putting down my hard earned cash, I wait for reviews, wait for price drops, but I like to keep games that interest me on the radar.So I thought I'd talk about what keeps a game on my radar. Now i have a pretty broad range in tastes in games, like most of you I enjoy certain genre's more than others, but I tend to mix things up as much as I can. Obviously, this is very subjective, so with any luck it will lead to some good conversation in the comments section.
Let me say, I am not a graphics snob, I like pretty graphics like the next guy, but art style carries so much more weight to me. As an old school gamer I can boot up something like Jet Grind Radio and see beauty, I can see wher the really cared about making the word come alive and feel fresh. Conversly, I can boot up something more modern like Mighty No. 9 and it just looks bland, like they didn't have a style so they copied one. Both are colorful Japanese styled games with lots of flash (which I'm I a fan of) but one you can clearly see how everything came together, the other you can tell something clearly went wrong.
Sega had some pretty great art.
Now obviously, graphics aren't everything, and a great game can have bad graphics, but I find that's rarely the case. More often than not the amount of time they put into the graphics is reflected throughout the game. Take Kirby: Planet Robobot, a fine game from start to finish, but they didn't really push the envelope with it, it's a very samey playing game, and the graphics reflect that because they basically took Triple Deluxe's assets and reused them. It's not even like Majora's Mask reusing assets from Ocarina of Time, where they are used in very different ways, this feels like a straight copy/paste job.
When a game makes the effort to grab my attention through the art, I notice.
Now you're probably scratching your head thinking: how can gameplay attract to you a game if you haven't played it? Fair question. If you've been gaming for any length of time, you can see if a game "looks" fun to play. I'm a big fan of video reviews (Sorry Dtoid, but IGN has the market on those) because I can what they are talking about when they stream gameplay over their explanations. I can see if a game is clunky or has a bad camera. More than that I can see pacing. See, pacing is big to me, probably one of the most important aspects of a game.
If a game is paced too quickly it wears out it's welcome, it becomes exausting trying to keep up. However, if a game is paced too slowly it can drag and I'll lose interest. As someone who loses interest in a game very quickly, I look for that. Personally, I like an ebb and flow to the gameplay. God of War is a great example, it goes from combat, to puzzles, to platforming, and then throws in RPG elements and a story to boot. It may be short and lack replay value, but it's a fantastic ride.
Do you know why a game like Yooka-Laylee was able to turn so many heads? Was it the art style or gameplay? Partially, but what really won me and a lot of other gamers over was the fact that it's a modern day AAA 3D platformer. In case you hadn't noticed, those are a rare breed these days. Outside of a fantastic Ratchet & Clank reboot and a couple equally fantastic Mario games, it's been slim pickings. Simply making a quality title in an unpopular genre can be enough to get me interested.
Now I have nothing against shooters, but it's a very popular genre, and frankly, it's getting hard to tell them apart sometimes. Often I find myself looking for the next big puzzle game, or excited over something like Rodea The Sky Solider. Games should be about experiencing new things, if we're just refining the same mechanics till the cows come how how interesting is that? I suppose that's why I never understood those gamers that limit themselves to just shooters, sports, or casual mobile games. Variety is the spice of life.
Sometimes you need more than just a simple genre switch, you need a mechanic to go along with that. Like most of you I was disapointed to hear the premise of Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts was about building vehicles and using them to complete objectives. But once I played the game and saw how brilliant the execution was, I fell in love. To this day it's one of my favorite games from last generation. Go in with an open mind.
Another game that the community has decided that was a terrible mistake was Metroid: Other M. Now I'll be the first to admit it's a very flawed game, there's some downright bad decisions made in there, but I couldn't help but enjoy it because they were pretty bold with experimenting with it. I enjoyed the combat way more than Prime 3, the controls were better too, I didn't even mind the story, at least I felt like Samus was fleshed out. I'd rather a developer try and fail, than to not try at all. Look at how samey the Lego games are. How is it that gamers give Traveler's Tales the pass but call out Rare and Team Ninja for trying something new?
The Ridley fight alone was worth the cost of admission.
Now maybe you don't agree. Maybe what gets me excited about a game does nothing for you. That's fine, we all have different tastes, and I'd like to hear what you guys like to see in a game's promotion. Sound off in the comments below.