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Stale Experiences: What Games Need Reimagining
It’s tough to admit that one of your favorite gaming series is stale. You may be able to sit down and play through an entire game, enjoy it, but later on realize that you weren’t satisfied. Something about the experience just felt… old. Stale experiences can be a sign that nothing has changed over the course of the series or the play style is exactly the same over and over again.
I’ve thought this over for some time now and I’ve come up with some games that have little to no evolution in their gameplay or plot that nowadays just make me feel like I’ve played it before. I can’t finish these games without wanting something new. I loathe saying in my head, “oh this crap again?” or “this is just a rehash!” I truly do enjoy these series but if something isn’t shaken up soon, I can’t see the sense in buying them anymore.
I used to get addicted to this game. Mainly I’d build the houses and let my buddy play the actual game but I slowly got into both sides of the experience. I felt Sims 2 did nothing to add to the experience except enhance what the first did. Some new additions to house making, get some pets in there, and maybe even more events around the household. The Sims 3 tried to take it in a different direction and it was a good first step! Being able to see my Sim go to work, a party, a jog, a vacation, and much more was really cool but something is left out. I don’t control my Sim through these experiences. Unless he’s in the house or an ancient Egyptian catacomb, I don’t have control. Why can’t I decide how well or terrible my Sim does at work?
With the new SimCity adding in many new features such as banks and deteriorating money for your city’s Sims, I feel like they are getting close to this. You’ll see Sims eventually become jobless if there aren’t enough businesses around and begin to clutter up parks if they lose their homes. They become homeless! Oh man, I cannot hope high enough for a full life experience Sim game.
The Call of Duty of the fighting genre. These games are the same thing over and over again. I love DBZ, it is… well it’s my 3rd favorite anime. Still, it’s the only one with a full license out there making games. I had tons of fun with the old Budokai games and the PSP fighters were great. What happened, though? Every year we get the same freakin’ thing with “2 new characters!” that they just dreamed up of to think it’s cool. No one wants to spend $50 bucks on the same game with additional camera angles to “better capture the show’s feel” and “some dude we thought looked cool but has no meaning at all”. First off, the games don’t capture the feeling of the show at all. It’s a fighting game. That’s what it captures. The gameplay has felt stiff and limiting for a long time now. These games new a new engine and some fresh air or you’ll start seeing these new ones in the bargain bins faster than Gohan can get his ass beat.
After playing Fable 3 I had one thought come into my head: “did I really just give my money to Lionhead Studios for this?” Not only was the latter half of the game just not good at all, it was exactly like Fable 1 and 2. I saw no enhancements at all. The only thing they did was streamline the experience and try and keep you out of menus. The first half was pretty good. Making your way through the revolution and your campaign was fun. However, I felt like this should have been Fable 2. I enjoyed Fable 2 (even though my reserved Collector’s Edition was extremely broken down) and felt that the story in that was better. Why? Because in Fable 3 when the game should have ended, we became the King or Queen. Sound cool? No, it was cumbersome and stupid.
The point is, after playing Dragon Age 2 (stop bashing Hawke ): ) and especially Kingdoms of Amalur, Fable has a lot to improve to come even close. Thos two games have seemingly perfected that style of gameplay and enhanced the choice-driven story way past what Lionhead Studios did. I enjoy Peter Molyneux and his games. Sure, he boasts way too much and makes promises where he shouldn’t but overall he pours his heart and soul in his games. Do it again, Pete. This time with feeling!
WWE promised that WWE ’12 would capture the essence of the show in playable format. Well, it felt the same as the year before. Also, the year before that. Hell, it’s felt the same since No Mercy kicked the house down on the Nintendo 64. The only difference in Wrestling games over the years have been how many pixels or polygons were added. As a wrestling fan (inb4 “it’s still real to me”, “man soap”, etc.) I can’t get into these games anymore. I haven’t liked a wrestling game since 2006. It was then that I felt the experience getting too stale. With 2007’s release, it was the last time I bought one at full price. I remember renting the TNA Impact game and saying, “holy crap, this engine is perfect.” Indeed it was. The engine that powered that featureless game was marvelous. The collision detection and animations were heads over what WWE has (including WWE ’12). Slap that baby onto ’13 and call it a day. You just made me a buyer again.
I know what you’re going to say but hear me out. Halo is a great series but after five titles (Halo Wars not included) the gameplay just feels stale. You know what feels better in terms of that aspect? Section 8. I felt like a super solider in that game. Dropping down from orbit, landing at a spawn or a place of my choosing and just letting it rip. Halo’s jumping and movements just feel stiff. I’m also tired of dropping a full clip into someone thanks to overshields. I understand why the shields are there but Mass Effect did a much better job at making them not overpowered or tedious. Throw Master Chief in a game where you take Mass Effect and Section 8 and you have yourself the new era of Halo games. I’d buy that day one and any DLC they threw on the disc. I think we all enjoy the story of Chief but it’s old now. I don’t think I can play another three games the same way. Could you imagine the Arbiter gameplay with this type of game? Oh man.
Well, I hit a lot of fan favorites in this list so I guess I’ll hit my big one, too. I love me some Mega Man games. I’ve played them all. So why is it on here? Because it’s time for a change. Problem is, Mega Man is tricky to change. You have the classic gameplay that everyone loves and a number of spin-off series that have their own style. It’s why I didn’t include Sonic. However, there is one way they could make a better Mega Man game. Capcom tried this before and it blew up in their faces but to they didn’t have the right scope for it. Mega Man X7, my most hated game in the franchise, had one thing right. Change. The 3D aspect to X’s journey here was a risky move but it could have paid off. Look at DC Universe Online for a moment. No, I’m not saying turn Mega Man into an MMO. However, if they took the over-the-shoulder gameplay of that game and threw it into X and Zero, that would be sick.
Not every series for Mega Man can be redone to get rid of the stale feeling. The classic series will – and should be – always 2D side-scrollers. The Zero series is done with but if it made a return on the 3DS, I’d hope for the same challenging side-scroller. Star Force should have been more Battle Network. That would have made much more sense and the change to the 3D layout for the battles would have been the change the series needed to keep going. Instead we got Geo Stellar and a bunch of crap.
I had a spirited debate about this one with a friend. Some may feel that the change in eras is the focus in Assassin’s Creed but the gameplay is what brings you there. The climbing, the combat, the sneaking it’s all a huge factor. Yet it hasn’t changed since the first game. Yeah, they threw in some tower defense here and there recently but overall it’s been the same since Altair. The combat is dodge-dodge-stab, dodge-dodge-counter. I could see a new Assassin fighting safely like this but even Ezio fought like this at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed 2 before becoming an Assassin. He was a street fighter at that point! Also, you fight the same even as a seasoned Master Assassin. Cut the crap, if I got that much experience as an Assassin and I get surrounded by three guards. I’m gonna tear them up. Why? Because I’d expect myself to know just where to strike and just when to dodge. Not sit there like a pansy and hope I get an opening. Sure, it’s safer and doesn’t make the game too easy but it’s mind-numbingly boring.
That brings me to the climbing. It feels so stiff. That is mainly due to the animations but just moving from one grapple point to the next doesn’t feel right. Uncharted perfected this kind of gameplay. Drake’s climbing feels natural and fluid. The way he moves and shimmies around just looks human. Assassins apparently just hop over and grab something like they’ve ascended that wall 500 times and know every inch and point. This may sound like it contradicts my combat point but even a Master Assassin must feel like scaling a building is the most dangerous part of their job. At any time you could lose your gripping or hit a weak point. Throw in some Uncharted climbing and more direct combat and Assassin’s Creed already has a fresh coat of paint.
One could argue that these games have been exactly the same since the first one. You gain an initial quest, find something troubling, realize your real quest, fight a terrible enemy, and end the game. To be fair here, it does look like Final Fantasy Versus XIII is trying something new for the franchise and I really hope it works out but as of now, it’s old. With RPG’s adopting the open-ended story method or getting rid of linearity altogether. I always felt that Final Fantasy games were linear. I know there was a lot of hoopla over XIII but to be honest, all of them were like that. Dig through your closets and find an old Final Fantasy strategy book. Aside from the world map that you used to run from place to place, every map for every mission had one way to get there. There may have been a fork in the road at one point or another but you ended up at the same place in the same amount of time. Final Fantasy games are linear. All of them. Well, you know, not the online ones.
I’ve also felt that the uncertainty of its genre hindered the story and characters too much. Is it fantasy? Is it steampunk? No, it’s usually an amalgamation of both. Since VII, they’ve gravitated more closely to a futuristic setting but IX went right back. At least XIII had one thing consistant: it was futuristic. Nothing else to say about it. No fantasy, no steampunk, nothing. It was a sci-fi RPG. Square-Enix took a confusing stance with the XIII games. Many people seem to have forgotten that the Fabula Nova Crystallis covers different worlds, as well as characters. It wouldn’t make sense for Lightning’s world to be the same as the bustling metroplois of Noctis’. Either way, I await Versus XIII with bated breath to see if it breathes in the fresh air the franchise most certainly needs.
I love me some Pokemon. I played mostly all of but I skipped Ruby and Sapphire. The biggest problem is that it has been the same game since Red and Blue/Green. Not even Black and White brought about the change that they said it would. The 3D-esque environments did nothing but enhance an already aged gameplay. I’m not saying they need to change the overall style of Pokemon but we need something new, guys. Do what everyone is asking you to do and bring out the full 3D Pokemon game that is just like the portables but for a console. None of this Pokemon XD stuff. I want Pokemon on Wii U with online multiplayer and lobbies (no friend codes!) and trading unlike we’ve ever seen. Online tournaments so we don’t have to live in New York to get the cool stuff or go to a store to use crappy Wi-Fi. Pokemon Console Version. Now!
Oh boy. Okay, calm down and just listen. Zelda is classic. It’s great! Hell, I called Skyward Sword the best Wii ever. But! Here’s the thing: it’s the same plot over and over and over again. You start the game, you help someone or something out, learn about a bigger plot afoot, gather some kind of relic, something big happens, then you defeat a set number of dungeons or temples, and you fight an end boss. That’s Zelda! We need something new, Nintendo. We love what you got but it’s not blasphemy to change it up a bit. Metroid M, while not exactly received well, was enjoyable since it changed it up. It took classic Metroid and the completely different Prime and mashed it together with some cool tricks. Zelda doesn’t have a Prime. Mario did! Samus did! Star Fox did! Where is the series changing, genre defining shake up for Link?