The collective piling on (one could use much more graphic, vulgar terminology) that the review community has done with Gears of War has gotten my cynical side thinking again, and by that I mean more than the usual 24 hours a day.
But instead of attacking GoW, I am going to use its popularity to show how the Wii is arriving at precisely the right time.
First off, GoW is a great game. It is an action game with FPS elements in a third person shooter environment, and is probably the best game to hit the “next gen” to date. But people are already calling this the cream of the crop; the “killer app” for the Xbox 360 and the game that will drive new sales of the system over the others (which is what killer app literally means). That said, I’ve seen more than one review now that gives good marks to a point, and then says there’s “something missing.” Is it really a ’10’ though? Because unless we’re talking Spinal Tap, a 10 is as high as a game can possibly get.
Eurogamer and Aeropause didn’t think so, and if one is being honest then there is no possible way GoW is a 10. A 10 would have offerred up new gameplay and better AI, in addition to killer visuals and sound. A true killer app would have had something truly new to offer, to entice gamers who dont have 360’s to buy one.
“[O]n a purely gaming level Gears of War is not doing anything extraordinary or new on any level. A few novel camera and control tweaks aside, we’re in pretty familiar territory with a broadly well-established load-out of weapons, fighting a familiar battle against enemies that for all their gloriously elaborate alien exterior might as well be humans for all the differences they represent in reality. These are AI routines we’re well versed in, and familiar duck and cover tactics that we’re used to from other games, and, yes, they work to good effect in Gears of War, but let’s not pretend that we’re wallowing in the future of entertainment. What we have here is an extremely competent action game that’s as polished and refined as it could be, and is therefore very enjoyable. But if Epic had applied the same widescreen scope and ambition to the gameplay as it did to the engine we’d be much more excited than we are.” – Eurogamer
Enter the Wii. There’s going to be such a shift in gaming over the next year that by this time in 2008 we won’t recognize it anymore. Why? Because GoW is the best of what the horsepower generation can offer, and it’s already starting to fade. Sure things will get prettier, but they won’t change. Do you see any indication from MS or Sony that there will be anything but more polished versions of GoW out in 2007? Eurogamer gave GoW an 8. It’s the perfect score for a game that does what it’s supposed to perfectly, but offers nothing new for the money being asked. HD gaming, in my opinion, is an 8.
“I’ve scanned through a collection of reviews online to see if anyone can explain what exactly is underwhelming about the title. Neither of us could really put our finger on it. It looks great, plays great and sounds great (although in split-screen, the audio frequently had trouble keeping up in heavy gunfights), why don’t we love it so far?” — Aeropause
That’s an easy question to answer. It’s because this is the same thing you were playing last year, with a new coat of paint. Oh, and a $10 next gen tax. And yet the reviewers are gushing over it. Honestly, if this is perfection, then count me out of the next gen race. Sure, you can slap on motion sensing to the 360 and the PS3 very easily, but their price points and development costs make that an unlikely success in the long run. Enter the Wii again.
In a nutshell, this is what companies like MS and Sony think the next gen should be. Pretty graphics, great sound, and solid gameplay that we’ve all seen before over the last 10 years. The next five years will be about playing it safe and brand new televisions and re-buying the DVDs you already have with Blu-Ray/HD DVD ones. The next gen is an 8 out of 10. Unfortunately, playing it safe means you never move forward, and that doesn’t help anybody. Enter Wii.