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Shoot From the Lip: Next Generation?

What’s with this “next-generation” that I’m hearing about?

I don’t see it anywhere.

It’s not at the video game stores that I shop at.

I look at the walls, and I see games being advertised for the PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii that are supposed to represent the “next-generation” in gaming. But the PlayStation 3 games, they all look the same as PlayStation 2 games, expect they’re a lot prettier. They don’t seem to promise anything new in terms of actual gameplay. There’s nothing special there. And the Wii? The controller seems nifty, but will it demand innovation, or merely give developers an excuse to avoid porting any of the great multiplatform games over because the controller just doesn’t work for the same as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3?

And while we’re on the subject of the Xbox 360, why are the shelves so bare? I haven’t seen a glut of games like this since the PSP came out, and look where that “next-generation” handheld is going – straight to the bottom of the sales charts. I mean, honestly, what was the last PSP game you had to own? Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories? Yeah, that’s been released for the PS2, and now it’s dirt-cheap, and it controls better. The Xbox 360 hasn’t had a killer-release yet, and it’s been out for a good eight months at least. There is Oblivion, and it is great, but that’s really not a title that makes people say “I NEED A 360!” Oblivion lacks the mass-market appeal that a title like Halo, Grand Theft Auto 3, Mario 64, hell, even Crazy Taxi, had for their consoles.

Gears of War sure does look pretty, but is the gameplay going to be any different than every other FPS on the shelf?

And looking at the 360’s current lineup, what do we see? Bunches and bunches of ports that are barely upgraded from their last-generation counterparts. GUN? Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland? King Kong? Tomb Raider: Legend? We’re expected to pay MORE for these? Oh, that’s right, the Xbox versions probably won’t even play on our 360s, so we have to pay the extra money to play them. And look at the sports games. Half of them lack the features of the last-generation versions. What’s the big deal? Why can’t you include all of the modes? It can’t be that hard to code.

Is this what we can expect from the launch of the PS3? We know what to expect from the Wii launch – a bunch of first party games that really take advantage of the Wii’s features, a few third party games that try to take advantage of the Wii’s features, and a few third party games that ignore the Wii’s features. Based on Sony’s previous launches, with the PS3, we’re probably going to see severe shortages of the console and only a couple of crummy games to play on it while we’re told to wait patiently for the killer games to come out. And no doubt about it, the PS3 will have some killer games. Metal Gear Solid 4? I’m already sold. Assassin’s Creed? Looks sweet. But when will we see them? And the Xbox 360 will too. Do I even need mention Halo 3? Or Gears of War? And even the Wii. That new Pokemon game for the Wii will sell a million copies, no problem, and Smash Bros. with Solid Snake will certainly set sales records.

Warhawk? This is what Sony wants us to buy a PS3 to play?

But will any of them do anything differently than the last-generation? The last-generation brought so many new things. The graphical upgrade from the PS1 to the PS2 was amazing. Online play? There was a time when DVD players in consoles were a new thing. Now it’s standard. Hard disks for saving instead of memory cards? Think about it. What are the PS3, Xbox 360, and the Wii doing differently for this next generation? Besides new controllers, nothing really all that different than the last generation. Even the graphical upgrade isn’t that major. I mean, you look at a PS1 game, and you look at a Dreamcast game, and there’s a huge difference. You look at an Xbox game and you look at an Xbox 360 game, and there’s a difference, but it isn’t as substantial.

Come on, console makers, developers around the world – I’m practically begging you – impress me. I want to see what this “next-generation” has to really offer me. What’s it bringing to the table? Exploit it. Brutalize my Xbox 360. Make it squeal as it pumps out polygons and tries to deliver new experiences. I don’t want the tried-and-true right now. Franchises are great, I can’t wait for Halo 3, Metal Gear Solid 4, but give me some new stuff too, take some risks.

I want to see what this “next-generation” has to offer.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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