Ben's Week In Review: May 3
Is everyone just lying in wait for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? I know I am. :)
Square Enix is like the pathetic kid in school who just wants to be your friend
There was a time when I felt sorry for Square Enix. But you can only be oblivious for so long; companies that continue to blindly pursue the wrong path don't deserve my pity.
Now, it seems plain that the publisher desperately wants to retain the few role-playing fans it has left, and reclaim those it has lost. There are surveys asking about the franchise - and not just yes/no surveys; in-depth surveys where you can leave super long answers - and now they're talking about maybe releasing an updated version of the Final Fantasy XV demo. They'd deliver a new sample that reflects the feedback they've received from fans concerning that demo. They even addressed each of the top 15 complaints publicly. I mean, have you ever heard of any publisher ever doing something like this? It basically never happens for a full game, let alone a freakin' demo. On the one hand, I suppose we could be optimistic and just say they're trying to reconnect with their fans, and trying to get an idea of what we really want.
Unfortunately, I can't be quite so lenient. They could've taken these strides a decade ago. And it's not like they haven't asked questions in the past; there's just zero evidence of them actually listening to the answers. Again, I think they want to produce another demo to prove they're listening but at this point, after so many comical decisions on the path to Final Fantasy's destruction, they've lost all their bargaining chips, as far as I'm concerned. They're really like the sad kid in school who would do anything for you if you'd just be his friend. ...and I never thought the once-mighty Squaresoft would basically admit that they're entirely clueless as to what gamers want. The reason other game makers don't do all this? Because they actually have a finger on the pulse of their fan base, that's why.
Maybe a 3-year development cycle is the best thing that oculd've happened to Call of Duty
You can still complain that a new title comes out every year, but you can hardly make the claim that each one only had a year of development time. Even last generation, Treyarch and Infinity Ward had two years and this time around, with Sledgehammer Games added to the mix, everyone gets three years. It's really a great thing for fans of the series.
No, they're never going to overhaul the entire franchise. CoD is a shooter, first and foremost, and the minute you start to change it into something else, you'll start to lose your fans (are you listening, Square Enix?). The best you can do is a continued attempt at freshness and minor innovation, all operating within the confines of the first-person shooter genre. And that's what I think we saw with last year's Advanced Warfare, and what we should see in this year's Black Ops III. Developer Treyarch is obviously appreciative of the extra year, and it's clear that more time results in more brainstorming and ultimately, more features and more innovation. Will every new idea work? No, but then again, they're new ideas so we shouldn't fault the teams for trying. That would make us hypocrites, would it not? We scream at the designers to do something new with CoD and when they do, it's still not good enough...? Let's not go down that road. Let's just say that three years is a good thing.
Personal gaming update
It's all about Bastion for me right now. That game is just so great. It's really refreshing to find a game that knows exactly what it wants to be and the end result is a supremely well-balanced, well-paced game that never grows tiresome. It's also beautiful from a visual standpoint and the sound - especially the narrator - is worthy of remembrance. It's a great game to play between now and the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which is just around the corner. I'm also going to try to deliver a review for either Paperbound or Broken Age. In the meantime, I can still go back to games like GTAV, Super Mega Baseball, and Axiom Verge.
Too bad about Silent Hills. I was really looking forward to that project. There are so few true horror titles in the offing; for a while there, we enjoyed a minor resurgence, what with Outlast and The Evil Within. But I thought a new Silent Hill would cement the comeback and it just won't happen. Now, it's kind of up to Resident Evil to fill the void; it's actually an enviable position, if Capcom can pull it off. But after RE6, I'm not sure what to expect...are you?
5/2/2015 Ben Dutka