Welcome back. Last time I told you about the stuff that makes me want to go and stand outside GAME in the middle of the night in preparation for my most anticipated games of 2014, but what about those that don’t? With so many games on the horizon they can’t all be day one purchases, right? There has to be a line between unbridled desperation and simple anticipation. There also has to be a reason for said difference, and here’s mine.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
When I finally joined the Dragon Age party back in Origins, I kicked myself for taking so long to get involved. I’d spent years whining that I was never going to see another Knights Of The Old Republic and little did I know the closest thing to it had been sitting right under my feet for a few months. I was instantly hooked and dying to get my hands on Dragon Age 2 at it’s launch, which I did.
That’s when things took a turn for the worst. I’m not going to sit here and go into vivid detail as to why DA2 was bad. I personally don’t think it was as bad as people made it out to be – sure it had it’s problems, what game is completely free of those? – but it was definitely not as good as DA:O and that makes me dubious for Dragon Age: Inquisition. I want this game to be good! I really do! I’ve loved almost all of Bioware’s games since Baldur’s Gate, but DA2 was the first real knock for me and if DA:I is an even lesser example of the franchise, it may very well run the risk of even me thinking it’s bad. Therefore, I have to confess that even with the recent discovery of the game being developed on the Frostbite 3 engine (of Battlefield fame) I cannot commit 100% to it and some games have to be on that when it comes down in a price a bit list. This is one of them.
Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor
Due to my taking the side of China Mieville in saying that “Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature” I have never been able to bring myself to a point of great entertainment from anything derived from the Lord Of The Rings franchise. The movies, both Rings and Hobbit, the games and much less the books. But even for myself, the draw of Shadow Of Mordor is too powerful.
I said when I first saw the gameplay footage, and I’ll say again now for the sake of those reading, that this looks like it would have been better served as it’s own franchise rather than a licensed property. That way the developer, Monolith Productions (developers of FEAR 1 & 2, Condemned 1 & 2 and that god awful Matrix MMO) would have got the potential credit they deserved rather than giving the descendants of Tolkien more fuel for making it rain – of which I have no doubt is a permanent fixture of their daily schedule.
Stepping away from the Tolkien tirade for a moment, Shadow Of Mordor looks like a genuinely compelling game based largely on its mechanics rather than setting. Like an evolved interpretation of what Bioware has been doing for so many years, they’ve found a way that, if it works as well in practice as it does on paper, will allow you to make considerable changes to the story, environment and characters based on action rather than dialogue. Like many, I saw a link between this and Assassin’s Creed, with a key difference being that people remember encounters with you and change accordingly, with the added bonus of these two things leading you to having the ability to spark an insurrection within the enemy forces. That… sounds… awesome!
Had this been a unique franchise, it may well have been a day one purchase for me. It’s interesting enough to be, but my reticence stems from the fact that it’s not. It’s a licensed game of which I have very few fond memories and on top of that, it’s Lord Of The Rings. Something I just do not enjoy at all.
In fairness this one doesn’t look at all bad. I just can’t seem to bring myself to be overly excited about it. It looks sort of like a cross between Mirror’s Edge, which I loved, and Dead Island, which I… did not love. They have some fantastic ideas going on with the day and night cycle being a huge part of how the game works, and the “it’s ok to run, sometimes” aspect, but at the same time I’m struggling to get past the grating cliche that is Zombies – which were getting old about two years ago.
As unique as many of the ideas brought forth are, they seem to be buried in the same old minutiae of surviving in a world filled with brainless flesh eaters. Running around getting food and ammo then trying to conserve (in other words, to not use) said food and ammo in case it might be needed in the future can only be fun for so long. Dead Island milked the hell out of the idea for me, it’s just not fun anymore. All this not helped by the fact that Dead Island and Dying Light share the same development company, Techland.
What keeps me on the fence about it still is that the gameplay does look genuinely fun. One of the problems I found in a large part of Mirror’s Edge was the lack of an immediate threat as you traverse the various ledges and rooftops, for instance, a hole that could be nicely filled with a group of hungry ex-humans reaching for your feet as they sail above them. I won’t be missing this title but I won’t be waking up first thing in the morning to rush out and grab a copy either.
Telltale Efforts – Tales From The Borderlands/Game Of Thrones
So, I, much like everybody else, loved the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I think they didn’t get as much credit as they deserved for it and that’s not for lack of trying because they got a LOT of credit for it. Last night I finally got around to Season 2 Episode 1: All That Remains and, despite having a lack of respect for a doctor that doesn’t know a dog bite from a human (ish) bite, thoroughly enjoyed it and can see that we can expect another great season ahead of us.
That being said, I think the reaction to that success is a bit… dramatic. Not on Telltale’s part, however. Suddenly everybody wants a piece of the revived adventure story genre that Telltale have, after years of trying, managed to coerce a slow but comforting heartbeat from. The reaction to that is “GIVE THEM EVERYTHING!” Fable, Borderlands, Game Of Thrones and, let’s not forget, MORE WALKING DEAD! – I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Telltale’s Breaking Bad was on the horizon. This company, though I don’t presume to have any lack of faith in them, are now right in the centre of the spot light with a huge workload and some die hard fans to appease, as well as the responsibility of appeasing non-gamers who love certain franchises they now hold. I’m looking at you Game Of Thrones fans.
Let’s not forget that a large part of Walking Dead’s success is within the character of Clementine. For me, the fact that it took place in the world created by Robert Kirkman meant very little. It was all about the work that went into the unique fatherly relationship between Lee, the games protagonist, and Clementine, the games objective. This is what they nailed. If I were in their position, I would think that this is what people are looking for more of. Now try and integrate that into Game Of Thrones, or Borderlands. Doesn’t work quite so well, does it?
This is not me saying that it can’t be done, or that it has to be done that way. Truth be told, each world has the capability of standing on its own. Borderlands is wacky and laid back, Game Of Thrones is intricate and dark, and they don’t need their own Clementine to be successful, but Telltale have little time to get these things up and running and I hope the very best for them; they have my approval and support. I just hope they haven’t bitten off more than they can chew, and I mean that was as much sincerity as I can muster.
Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns
Ah yes, the culmination of what tp regarded the worst Final Fantasy game ever, and here’s the shocker… I quite liked it, actually. I don’t see the problem with the combat system, the storyline was riddled with subtext as usual, the boys look like girls, the girls look so good you wish they weren’t made of pixels, and the parts of the story that were just for fun were as ridiculous as they are unbelievable – in a good way. That, by my understanding, is what Final Fantasy games are.
Either way, I’m looking forward to the third and final installment to Lightning’s story. What worries me to the point of not wanting get over-excited about it, on the other hand, is the amount of stress Square have put on it “not being the previous games.”… because I like the previous games and such a statement puts the fear of fan service in me. The minute you stop doing something because you want to do it and start doing it to appease the legion of entitled kiddies who think they hold ownership over your property – and believe me, there is no one more entitled than someone who takes the word “Otaku” as a compliment – is the same minute your integrity goes out of the window and you seem like someone begging for approval.
This game could be discoloured by that fact and I find that scary. I will, of course, play it. There is no doubt about that, but I have to let the children have their way with it, make their assumptions and throw their opinions about before moving onto the next source of rage, so I can go in with a fresh head on and enjoy it for what it is – an effort to entertain me.
And that brings me to the end of this two parter. You now have an insight to what I’m most eager for and what I want to be most eager for in the year to come, but we’d like to hear about yourselves? Let us know in the comments.