Friday, 22 August 2008

Worrying trends in the Games Industry

This morning I realised that the one game I've been hanging on for above all others this year, being Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, now looks set to disappoint. From what I can tell there is little left of the game that was promised to us back in early '06 builds. Many features have been omitted and the final game seems to be centred around a single player story. I'm noticing this more and more nowadays with 'next gen' games. They fail to deliver and the excuse is so often one relying on the argument that the game was designed with 'story' or an offline component in mind above anything else.

So, it's now relatively old news that Hell's Highway will not have any form of Co-Op mode. As a result, my excitement for this title has faded away by about 80%. We now are being told that the multiplayer component will, in effect, be quite a limited experience. There will be no bots, or A.I squad mates to order about whilst in online battle, and it seems that a timer for each battle will mean rounds last only a few measly minutes.

It all looks quite worrying as far as I'm concerned. Hell's Highway now seems destined to be yet another generic WW2 romp of an FPS game. Unless the single player is truly stunning I fear this game will flop. It looks to me like a scripted game relying solely on the squad hand-signal component to flesh it out. Without co-op, I'm just not particularly excited about the prospect of Brothers in Arms with better graphics. There is nothing new here, or am I wrong? Once the game is out next month we will know for sure how good this single player is going to be.

My real reason for this post is not to log my frustration over what looks set to be another shoddy FPS game though. Hell's Highway is just a microcosm of what seems to be a pattern developing as part of our current wave of 'next gen' games. Big things are promised and announced, little is delivered besides flashy visuals. Content wise, we are just not seeing much anymore. Where are the true 'next gen' titles? We WANT co-op in all our games! We WANT good, content heavy, multiplayer as well as a single player. And hell! If there has to be omissions then let's start getting rid of the story in these games! Let's start placing emphasis on gameplay as opposed to the cheesy drivel we see as stories in computer games.

Frankly, I'm just fed up with the po-faced, self righteousness of the attitudes developers seem to have regards their stories. No one really cares for stories in FPS games for example. If a story is in and co-op is not, I'm not playing. If there is no story (just some basic plot) but the game is content and feature heavy, I'm in!

Perhaps though, there is a hidden truth behind the constant excuse of story elements taking precedence over features. The real truth may be that this is just a lie, and that in reality it's just that games are too damn hard to make nowadays. Games makers are feeling the pressure and having to create shells for their dreams instead of the fully realised product. All I'm saying is if there must be a compromise let's start seeing it in favour of gameplay over story, longetivity over one-off experiences, and online play over offline.

Maybe Mercenaries 2 will deliver instead!