Friday, June 07, 2013

My return to the PC

When I was a kid I always wanted a console. A Mega Drive or a SNES, I wasn't particularly fussy. However, my dad insisted on something I could use educationally as well, so instead I got an Amstrad, closely followed by an Amiga (which thanks to rampant piracy at the time probably made me more of a gamer than Sega or Nintendo ever could). Then of course it evolved into a PC, and my status as a computer gamer was cemented.

That was me for my teenage years. I was PC through and through, all the way to University. There, sharing a flat with a bunch of other gamers - especially Andrew Smith who was die-hard console gamer - I started investigating just how much consoles had to offer. The final nail in the coffin was winning my first Xbox. Yes, I won it. My first console was totally free. I know, I'm a dick.

From that point my interest in games on the Personal Computer slowly diminished. By the time of Xbox 360 it was totally dead, though I made a special exception for Half-Life 2. Obviously.

Now I'm drifting back. Why? I've had these feelings for a while, but it's really come to a head working with BeefJack and in games journalism in general. PC is far more exciting place than consoles are at the minute. People are experimenting, trying weird shit. I can't help feel I'm playing Monaco wrong, but it's damn fun figuring that out.

Fun. That's why we play games, but it's something the big publishers don't care about. Triple-A is stagnating. Publishers are just churning out what will sell, which makes sense from a pure budget stance but doesn't satisfy my desire to explore new things. It's also becoming insanely bloated, with titles like Assassin's Creed including systems like managing trade routes and setting up a community for people to live in. In Assassin's Creed? A game that should be about sneaking about killing people. It's ridiculous.

That's not to belittle the teams within the monolithic publishers. Occasionally they can completely surprise us with games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution and XCOM: Enemy Unknown. On the flip side of that though is 2K Games' insistence on a shooter version of XCOM as well. The horror stories coming out of Thief's development shows that despite the success the team had with Deus Ex, Square-Enix aren't comfortable letting them go to town, and instead are potentially focus grouping the reboot to death.

Resistance to new IPs from publishers is frightening, they tell us no one buys them, which is why we just spend every year getting sequels. Yet when Remember Me from Capcom came up for review a civil war broke out in the BeefJack offices because everyone wanted it. We're all excited for something new.

Maybe it's the fact we've been in this console generation too long. “The Next Generation will solve everything.” As much as I love Picard, the Xbox One launch was everything I don't want from the next generation. It was a showcase in TV, Kinect and games that we knew were coming to everything anyway, and that hold no interest for me. Except maybe Quantum Break. Remedy have yet to let me down. PS4 looks more interesting, at least Sony are doing something with indies. Maybe E3 will prove me wrong, I sort of hope so.

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