Friday, 17 May 2013

The Immersive World

One of the things which truly impressed me about Metro 2033 was the world it was set in. There was a genuine sense of a post-apocalyptic society trying to survive while terrors, known and unknown, threatened their fragile existence. After about forty-five minutes of Metro: Last Light I can confirm that, for now at least, that living, breathing world continues to exist.

I think that an immersive world is important because it offers gamers the opportunity to take full advantage of what videogaming offers, compared to other forms of media, such as television or film. By its interactive nature, gaming draws (or at least should draw) players into a different world, a different role, a different sense of reality. This is where gaming should excel but often it falls short because too much time and energy is expended on producing games which look great but play and 'feel' like shit.

But then perhaps our so-called 'meh' approach to the world is also to blame. Should we sacrifice knowing cynicism for an opportunity to feel our experiences more passionately, even at the risk of being duped in the real world? Or is that pushing a link between gaming and the outside world a little too far?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Metro: Last Light

Of all the wonderful Xbox 360 games I am currently waiting to get my grubby mits on, Metro: Last Light is the most anticipated. There are two reasons for this:
  1. I really enjoyed the first one in the series, Metro 2033, both in terms of story and visuals (although the gameplay wasn't fantastic) and
  2. I want to see if the collapse of THQ has affected the new game's development
I realise, of course, that 4A Games are the actual developers but I suspect that the change of publisher must have repercussions for game development. What those effects might be we will have to see but I really do hope that this new game has improved on some of the issues of the first and that it maintains the same atmosphere that the first had. Any new or young IP is exciting as long as it offers something fresh to gaming and the first Metro was one of the most immersive experiences I'd had since Bioshock.

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Other gaming issues which have my attention concern the next generation of consoles. Will the Nextbox always be online? Will the PS4 be easier to code for than the PS3? Will I need to sell some internal organs to afford one of these new machines? I think that what gamers will want is fairly obvious: better graphics, better gameplay, larger and more reliable online experiences and the ability to play one's back catalogue. What we Xbox 360 gamers will probably get is a multimedia device which will offer limited or no playability for old games and will have too much of a focus on acting as a media hub to really make it worth buying within the first 3 to 6 months of its life cycle. But then I am a born again cynic so I just hope that someone, somewhere at Microsoft really gives a damn about how wonderful gaming can be and will ignore focus group bullshit to give us a console which will really make us want to sell our kidneys in return for the best gaming experience ever. But that won't happen because existence is suffering, according to Buddha. Now, where's my copy of System Shock 2 . . .