It’s late 2005, I had just sworn off World of Warcraft forever and I had begun reintegrating myself with the world of gaming outside the single window I had been staring at for just over a year. On the horizon was a promise of something new, something revolutionary. It was the Playstation 3 something that had been rumoured about for the longest time and was finally beginning to take shape. Best of all some of the launch titles were beginning to trickle into the news stories and they promised the world to us with visuals and games unlike any of those that came before. One of those games was White Knight Chronicles a RPG that showcased a beautiful menu system, battles on scales of the most epic proportions and a story to bind it all together.
I was hooked. That game would be mine.
There I was on the PS3 launch night, sitting in the Belconnen Westfield food court with 50 or so like minded souls waiting for EB Games to open so I could get my console. My ever patient fiancée (now wife) was sitting by my side patiently knowing why I had to be there at this ungodly hour. The doors finally opened I and since there was a queue system for getting the consoles out of there in an orderly fashion I took it upon myself to check out the games available. I mean there was no point to getting a console without a game right? Problem was I couldn’t find the prize I had been yearning for, White Knight Chronicles was just no where to be found. I could have sworn I heard someone saying they picked up a copy but talking with my friends it seems I may have just misheard someone buying Fight Night.
I returned home, confused.
The next day was filled with Internet searches, forum posts and fleeting conversations with friends. Finally I came across some articles saying that White Knight Chronicles was going to be released in Japan before anywhere else and that had been delayed until some unknown time in the future. I sunk back into my chair defeated feeling like something great had been snatched from my grasp. Still the fervent excitement I felt didn’t let go and I spent the next two years devouring every little detail I could find about the game. Eventually the game was released in 2008 to the Japanese market and I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I had it in my grasp.
A year and 2 months passed before I was able to get my hands on the game. It was amongst several other large releases at the time so I didn’t get it straight away but every time I walked in to pick up another title I’d see it on the shelves, tempting me with thought of fulfilling promises long forgotten. A month or so passed and I returned from my blockbuster gaming binge and couldn’t resist any longer, I bought the game and took it home not wasting any time before I placed that magical disc into my now 4 year old Playstation 3. The menu came up and I started playing but something was wrong.
Almost 45 minutes passed before I actually got to play the game. This wasn’t all for patching or firmware updates, those took less than 10 minutes, no the game took me through so many in game cinematics that I wasn’t allowed to actually do anything until they were done. The next 30 minutes were filled with me running crazily through the town trying to figure out where I needed to be. Finally I found the mission and was sent to another town which I had to make my way to through a forest filled with possible enemies. 2 hours later I discovered what the game was, it was a single player version of World of Warcraft and one that was none too good at that.
I was devastated, the game that had been hyped so much in my head for the past 5 years turned out to be a turd. I tried several times to play it again but there just wasn’t anything interesting about the game that could keep me coming back. I put the game in the drawer and resigned myself to forget about it and resolved myself to never, ever get so drawn into the hype ever again lest I be caught in a devilish web like the one White Knight Chronicles had spun for me.
So now whenever something is announced or hyped I usually don’t go much deeper into it than the basic facts like it’s release date and who is developing it. White Knight Chronicles wasn’t the only game to be ruined (wholly or in part) by its hype, Modern Warfare 2’s “shocking” scene was almost utterly lost on me because of all the talk about it. Sure there are plenty of games I get really excited about (Mass Effect 3 for example) but apart from knowing they’re being developed and should be awesome I don’t trouble myself with all the details lest they fall short of my crazy expectations. This means I may miss a few things but in the long run I get to play the games with fewer preconceptions so the games can stand by themselves, as I believe they should.
Was I solely to blame for getting too caught up in the hype? Most definitely. Had I adopted my current regime of letting the hype slide until after I’d played the game I may have lasted long enough for White Knight Chronicles to shine and instead you’d be reading a review of it rather than a rant. Still I believe I’m better served by this minimalist approach and realistically it was only a matter of time before I got so caught up in something that the above story would’ve happened again. So if I seem disinterested when you’re really excited about a game it’s nothing personal, I just want to make sure the game doesn’t ruin itself before I’ve had the chance to play it.
It’s been just on 5 months since I took it upon myself to start reviewing some of the more well known gaming titles and for the most part its been pretty enjoyable. Up until about a month ago I was able to play my way through an A list title every week or two and usually got the review out the following Monday morning. They’re great blog fodder as it’s something that I’ve been passionate about for many years and they’re probably some of the easiest writing I’ve ever done. Casting an eye back over them though I see that for the most part my reviews are overwhelmingly positive with no game scoring below an 8 out of 10 and most criticisms are forgiven rather quickly. After a while I began to hope for a really bad game to cross my path so I could slam it on my blog, just for something different.
After actually seeking a bad game out it all became clear why I’d rarely ever review one, I just can’t finish the bastards.
Take for instance Bayonetta. If you’re in the business of knowing about games you would’ve likely heard of it a long time ago as the new IP title from the famous Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya which managed to achieve the coveted 40/40 score from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. I’d heard about it a long time before the first review came out and was intrigued by the buzz that was surrounding this little known game and ended up buying myself a copy about a week after it came out. After coming off a high of finishing Assassin’s Creed II I was ready, willing and able to sink my teeth into another blockbuster title. What followed however was a cheezy, hyper-sexualized game with an impossibly proportioned librarian nymph who’s battle suit is made from her own hair which she uses to smite angels. I’ve never been much of a fan of hack and slash games but I was willing to give the game a go considering its extremely glowing reviews but after about 4 hours of game play I just couldn’t really force myself to continue playing. Sure I wanted to get my monies worth (I just paid for the equivalent of 5 movie tickets for 4 hours of entertainment, geeze) but in the end Bayonetta sits next to my PS3 gathering dust, begging me to put it out of its misery.
That’s not the only example either. In fact the majority of games that I’ve come across recently have been rather sub par when compared to the first quarters releases. Here’s a list of the games I’ve tried to play and had to put down for one reason or another:
The end result of all this? I caved and restarted my World of Warcraft subscription. I was instantly hooked as things that used to take hours to get organised and completed now take less than 20 minutes and it seems my dreams of good loot raining from the sky have come true. Its so easy to get gratification that I instantly dropped any idea of powering through any of the 4 titles I mentioned in favour of spending some quality time with my little hunter avatar. I feel infinitely dirty for doing so, but it’s the good kind of dirty.
It really goes to show just how good the first couple months of this year was for us gamers and looking back over all my reviews I stand by all the scores I gave out. It’s disappointing to not be able to write a review of a good game every other week but when I just can’t bring myself to finish one it tells me that it’s probably not deserving of a review, even a bad one. I’ve got high hopes of writing another good review soon (Just Cause 2 is looking like a prime candidate) but until then I’m going to go wallow in my addiction to World of Warcraft once again.n
2009 was a bit of a dry spell for gamers. Sure we had a couple great hits with the likes of Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune but for the most part we were denied the games that were set to end the decade with a very memorable bang. We can partly blame the GFC for most of this since most consumer reports showed a decline in people’s willingness to part with their disposable income (and who could blame them really) and no one wants to release their game into a bear market. Still we managed to smash the previous record for biggest media release of all time so it wasn’t all bad and for the most part the games were delayed to ensure they’d have that extra layer of polish that would ensure they lived up to everyone’s expectations.
The reason I’m writing about this is that after completing Assassin’s Creed 2 I thought I’d check up on the pre-order status of some of my favourite titles that were scheduled for release last year but got the chop. To my surprise my list ended up looking like this:
That’s not mentioning that I’ve still got Uncharted 2, Bayonetta and Batman: Arkham Asylum to play through! I had promised myself a month off after finishing a recent project (not Geon, that still has a long way to go) and it seems I’ll be spending the majority of it either cemented to the couch or firmly planted in front of my PC. Not that I’m complaining though, but it would seem like I have well over 100 hours worth of gaming being released in the next month. Sometimes I wish I was unemployed 😉
To be honest though two of those titles there aren’t really what you’d consider AAA titles that are going to attract the majority of gamers. Heavy Rain is a highly specialized game for people like me who revel in the fledgling cinematic gaming genre. It’s target audience is squarely aimed at those people who enjoyed Fahrenheit and possibly those who enjoy a good murder mystery. White Knight Chronicles is at the other end of the spectrum as at its heart it’s a Final Fantasy clone. The only reason I carry such an obsession for it is because I saw it as one of the darlings of the PS3 when it was announced all those years ago. After having been taunted by it for almost 5 years I’m chomping at the bit to actually play it, even if it turns out to be completely crap.
Mass Effect 2 is another one of those games that drove me completely wild when I first saw it. I’m a sucker for good Sci-Fi and Bioware has never failed in delivering an epic RPG. In fact I bought into the hype so badly I ended up buying an Xbox 360 just so I could play it, much to the lament of my friends who said if I waited it would eventually come out on PC. I think the $500 investment was worth not having to wait 6 months for the release 🙂 Strangely enough I bought Bioshock with the console to, since it was either get the Xbox or a new video card and I knew I had to get a Xbox eventually. Still I think I’ll be getting Bioshock on the PC this time around since the experience was much better comparatively.
So if you find yourself alone in the coming months you can rest assured that the gamers in your life have probably locked themselves in a room to get through the massive backlog of tremendous titles that are being released. So whilst 2009 might have been the year of the delayed release it would seem that 2010 will make up for it in spades.
What a way to welcome in the new decade 😀
A couple weeks ago I had come to the conclusion that my time in World of Warcraft had to come to an end. Whilst I had enjoyed rediscovering the game with a bunch of my close friends I started to become the angsty, late night hardcore raiding nut that I was throughout university and that didn’t sit well with me. Still I can always look back on the last 6 months of my foray back into the World of Warcraft with fond memories but giving it up has left me with a fair bit of free time. Part of it has been dedicated to Geon but of course part of it has gone back into gaming. Knowing there were a few titles scheduled to be released soon I thought I’d check up on them, boy was I surprised.
If you cast your mind back to long ago when the PS3 was still the giddy dream of the dominating powerhouse console that every man, woman and child on earth would want you’d probably be familiar with a game called White Knight Chronicles. It was a beautiful looking game that promised battles between massively scaled foes and showed of an interface that was by all accounts one of the smoothest I’d seen for a game like this. My heart ached as every year afterwards I found that the game was slated for next year until finally it saw a release in Japan on Christmas day last year, I knew it couldn’t be far away. It is now slated for Q1 2010 with the promise of not just a translated release. It seems my heart will ache for another year.
Probably the most devastating delay that I found coming out of my World of Warcraft stupor was that Heavy Rain had also been hit by the delay bug. After my initial gush about this game I was hoping to do a full review of it this year, but it seems that I will have to settle for it at the start of next year. It’s almost as if they want me to go back to WoW, although I really can’t bring myself to do it right now.
These aren’t the only ones to suffer the delay stick with other games like Bioshock 2, Mafia II, Red Dead Redemption, Tiberium all getting the same treatment. Having a dig around to see why all these games were suffering the same fate I couldn’t find a common thread, so it just seems like they’re all dealing with their own problems at the moment.
As a long time gamer I should be used to this kind of thing now. After Blizzard started taking the stance of “done when it’s done” game delays seem to become the norm with few making their initially scheduled release dates. This isn’t a bad thing as it typically leads to a much more polished game. However it’s never easy to get funding to develop a game and the only way to get attention and therefore dollars is to showcase what you have long before you have a releasable product. The only people who really suffer for this are the anxious customers like myself but I guess it’s better then the alternative.
Maybe I’m just too impatient. I still have a backlog of last year’s blockbuster releases to play through. 🙂