Yes, that's a lazy and pandering title, but then again every time I had something repossessed it was via Bank of America, not the taxpayers of Rhode Island.
I have no witty intro this week, as instead of writing over the long weekend I've played Civilization 5. In unrelated news I'm currently looking into case studies of how much kitty litter is needed to cover up the average human bowel movement. Also I just got to use the term "average human bowel movement", so this weekend wasn't a total waste.
ON WITH THIS WEEKS' GAMES.
Developer: Codemasters Southam
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, The One True Gaming Platform
Look, I get that Dirt Showdown isn’t meant to take the place of a mainline Dirt game and that (theoretically) Showdown’s development had no impact upon the next mainline Dirt game, but that doesn’t mean I have to like the fact that Showdown exists. In a very real way, every dollar spent on side projects is another dollar that isn’t going toward the GRID series or a new TOCA. You know, provided Codemasters even remembers GRID and/or TOCA still exist.
That said, I’m not opposed to a spiritual successor to Demolition Derby, I'm just unsure the concept is best served by shoehorning it inside the Dirt franchise. Micro Machines should still exist in some legal form, everyone loved the Micro Machines games, surely it couldn’t take a lot of money to buy that back from Hasbro. You could even give John Moschitta Jr a job doing running commentary during the action; sell it for ten bucks and salvage the upcoming Summer of Arcade.
But Burnout featuring the ghost of Colin McRae? No one wanted that, no one asked for that, and the reviews attest to that. Codemasters is in grave danger of becoming The Dirt Company.
Dragon's Lair (Yes. Again)
Developer: Digital Leisure
Publisher: Microsoft Gaming Studios (Try not to think about this same money not going to FASA instead. Whoops. You just did. And now you hate this game as much as I do)
News of a new port of Dragon’s Lair always works the same way, we’re excited to see it come to a new platform before someone actually plays the stupid thing and we’re all reminded why this genre peaked at-- well, with Dragon's Lair, but that’s not exactly the point. Dragon's Lair is awful, its always been awful, and the only reason we don't accept that is because as a culture gaming has laid this irrational veneer of credibility to anything that spawned from the arcades. The truth is, a lot of the old arcade games were terrible by design, and Bluth's laser-disc stuff was the worst of the lot.
This version of Dragon’s Lair has the distinction of being the least convenient iteration of Dragon's Lair yet devised. Not only are the HD visuals going to take up an inordinate amount of precious, precious space on your 360 HDD, the calling card to this version is a Kinect-enabled mode which, because it’s Kinect, only barely works. Which is fine, because the Kinect mode also includes a mode where you are simply not allowed to fail. In its own way, Dragon’s Lair HD is sort of definitive of Kinect itself: attempt re-create a reasonably well-liked Wii game, then just give up and produce an interactive cartoon instead.
Developer: Capcom. All of it.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
If you told me back in February that both Asura’s Wrath and Dragon’s Dogma were both going to be amazing video games, I would be very pissed off at you, as you’re clearly a time traveller and did not the people of Brazzaville to be more careful around piles of unexploded artillery. Nor me about the dangers of abandoned Fedex handcarts.
I mean, forget “amazing”, I’d have been shocked with “Pretty good” or “admirably competent” or even “not total disasters that will lead Capcom into financial ruin”. Because that’s completely what Dragon’s Dogma and Asura’s Wrath looked like coming into the start of the year.
Calling Dragon’s Dogma Skyrim with bad writing and fantastic combat is doing a disservice to both games, but it does serve to highlight Capcom’s issues with coming to grips with game design in the HD era. If Capcom hadn’t insisted on handling Dragon’s Dogma entirely in-house and had let one of their many (largely regrettable) western development partners handle the writing and quests, they’d have something truly remarkable. It’s unclear if Capcom would be able to comprehend this sort of successful split west/east gaming development, even if an RPG with 90% of Bethesda’s writing married to Capcom’s blissful gameplay mechanics would have been an easy candidate for the Best Videogame Ever Made.
That said, Dead Rising/Dead Rising 2 set a precedent for Capcom to develop a game completely in-house and then hand the sequel over a western studio to actually make money, so maybe there’s hope for a Dragon’s Dogma 2 using the first game's basic framework and then give that to some sketchy North America studio with a thin portfolio but good marketin--
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier
Developer: Ubisoft Red Storm (Cary, North Carolina holla!)
Publisher: Regular ol’ Ubuisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
We’re never going to be rid of this genre. This was clear a year ago when a sequel to Homefront was greenlit before reviews could get out in time to prevent it from selling a million copies.
Thing is, dudebros have no self control. You tell them Homefront is awful; they won’t care. Homefront was the new Modern Warfare, the maps were just set in Seattle this time. They don’t care that they’ve already spent a good chunk of their lives playing TC:GR:FS; they’ll just figure that for the next four months there’s a new third person camera mutation for Modern Warfare. They’ve already set aside vacation time and have hired a homeless guy to camp in front of Gamestop. That’s just how these people operate, and publishers know this. That’s why every four to five months there’s a new Modern Warfare clone on the market; the dudebros simply figure this is how videogames operate. They’re not even aware there was a perceived MW3/Battlefield 3 split back last Christmas, all they know is sometimes the map has jets and helicopters.
Knowing this, we can skip the usual LOL MODERN WARFARE jokes and get to the real mystery behind TC:GR:FS:FFS:OMG:BBQ. Why does the Tom Clancy brand still exist?
Either the brand doesn’t really matter and should be dropped, or if it really is that important, maybe it should be used on more stuff. If the Tom Clancy name lends the sort of gravitas that leads to another million or so copies of HAWX being sold, maybe it should be stuck to Rayman Origins, too.
Yeah I know, that would be selling out Michel Ancel’s artistic vision, but we’re talking about the man who has multiple Raving Rabbids games on his resume. Is selling Tom Clancy’s Beyond Good and Evil 2 dirty and underhanded and lead to millions of confused old men who thought they were buying the a sequel to The Sum of All Fears? Sure. But more importantly, it means Beyond Good and Evil 2 gets produced, no questions asked. The Tom Clancy division is clearly operating on an unlimited budget and with no accounting oversight whatsoever. Let’s get this done.
As far as the quality of Future Soldier? Fuck, I dunno. It’s called “Future Soldier” and there are no mechs involved. Why are you bothering me with this?
I have serious doubts that RETRO CITY RAMPAGE is actually coming out, but it’d be pretty darned great if it did
The Good Version of MAX PAYNE 3 is released; I won’t care for another six months until it goes on sale on Steam
The developers of IRON FRONT: LIBERATION 1944 somehow managed to release their awful budget arcade flyer after Memorial Day but before the Fourth of July. Good work, idiots!