With a new year, comes a new beginning, and the knights have returned from their adventures to bring you another slice or two of the gaming world. So I decided to celebrate our revival by taking you back through the wondrous highs and the tragic lows, of what turned out to be possibly the most interesting console generation this incredible industry has ever pulled out of its dark, wire infested hat.
To specify, I shall be listing my personal choices for the 5 best and the 5 worst things to come out of the last generation of games consoles. Now, this is home consoles only, so no PC or handhelds, I’m talking solely about the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. So, lets get the bad news out the way first shall we?
5. PSN Getting Hacked
In 2011, the PS3 had finally found it’s footing in the race for console supremacy, despite a less than convincing first couple of years. The Xbox 360 no longer had a stranglehold on Sony’s pricey blu ray eating monster, and things could only get better, right?
Wrong. the Playstation Network got hacked, and over 77 million registered users now had their personal information at risk. Sony then had to shut down the online services until these issues were resolved, meaning players couldn’t even console their losses, violently beating down their friends online, sitting in a pool of tears and shame. Things got so bad that Sony even publicly apologised during their e3 2011 presentation, and gave those affected by the mess a two free games, but not even free games can cure our haunting memories.
4. Online Integration
What’s worse than having no online services? how about having them. As much joy as online gaming has brought me over the last decade, it has also brought me to a rage of frustration so bad that it cannot be stopped, except by pushing custard-covered fish fingers in to my ears.
Having internet on our consoles doesn’t just grant us the ability to play with friends who aren’t in the same room, it also lets us watch movies, listen to music, browse the internet, buy over-priced stupid DLC that is already on the disc and it even lets us pay extortionate prices for digital copies of our games. No, I’m not saying it’s all bad, but quite frankly, it detracts from the gaming experience, a trend which only seems to be ever growing with the Xbox One, when gaming becomes a secondary feature of a gaming console, it can’t be a great thing. Besides, online gaming is slowly putting an end to local multiplayer, and for that reason, cannot be forgiven.
3. Struggling Studios
It’s no secret that the economy hasn’t been great lately, and this certainly showed during the last generation of gaming. Over the last few years, dozens of studios have been closed down, even the gaming giants THQ were not safe. This has lead to teams behind some fantastic games stuck without jobs, not just that, but it also means countless numbers of games are stuck in development limbo.
These developers released great games like Blur, Split Second, Darksiders 2, LA Noire (and many more) but still got shut down, it’s a real shame that we may never get to see the amazing places these games could have been taken. Due to this, it sometimes feels as though gaming is becoming a bit boring and safe, as many AAA studios are being allowed to take risks less and less, because nobody wants to become the next casualty on this list.
2. The Franchises
Now, I mean, I love Halo, I played Halo 4 to the point were I think I started sweating Mountain Dew, (and I still played it less than 3 or Reach) but there’s only so many times you can convince me that Master Chief is even more badass now (but clearly a ton of sand should do the trick if the newest Halo trailer was anything to go by). My point is, as much as I may enjoy playing all these big games, I’d like to play them a bit less, and see some more new stuff. Halo may have it’s spin-offs and it is even getting a TV show, but really, it’s not even the worst at committing this crime. Whilst Halo has had 5 games over this generation, 3 of which weren’t numbered entries, Call of Duty has has 8 main titles this generation, that’s just insane.
Sure, why complain about it? I mean, plenty of people love the franchise, and buy it every release, and they are all well crafted games for sure, but I’m bored of it. I could sit here all day and pick apart countless franchises for doing it, but I won’t. I just feel slightly cheated when I see what great developers, churning out these games rather than working on something new. Once again, it all comes down to the numbers, why make something new when nobody will buy it without a recognisable franchise attached to it. Hey, you could just do what Far Cry seem to do, make cool unique titles and put Far Cry in the title so it will sell.
1. The Lights Of Death
Now, what do I say about this one, it’s pretty simple really, lots of consoles broke, and that really sucks. I mean, yes, when a product is as complicated as games consoles are now, there are going to be problems, I think most people accept that. However, when these consoles have been hyped for years, gamers have certain expectations. The main expectation of course is that they should be able to play those shiny new games, having their minds melted by all the extra polygons and shades of grey on screen. So you can understand their frustrations when their new console has a break down and just wants to show them their pretty red lights.
People probably remember the Xbox 360’s Red Ring of Death, but the PS3 suffered its fair share of problems too with its Yellow Light of Death. Sure people ended up with wii-motes inside their TV’s (or friends face) too, but that was due to pure stupidity. The problems were probably exaggerated by the vocal minority speaking out, but it doesn’t change the fact that it happened enough to become a well known problem. You know it’s bad when Microsoft offer a 3 year warranty to everybody, for free.
5. Nintendo Wii
Now, I can feel the rage flowing through your veins as you read this, but here me out. Whilst the PS3 and 360 are better consoles overall, they didn’t really do anything new, sure, online gaming, but that worked on Halo 2, on the Xbox. The Nintendo Wii on the other hand decided to innovate, throwing motion control in to the mix, letting you waggle your way to victory. Sure the motion control felt about as accurate as trying to type an essay with your arse cheeks, but it was new and most importantly, it was fun.
In fact the Wii was so much fun, that everybody who could feel emotion wanted to play and I mean everybody. At no other point can I say that I have watched two people play a game together with 80 years between them, it’s a moment I’ll never forget. What’s the point in online gaming, or graphics so good you can smell them, if your not having fun? Heck, the Wii was such a success that both Sony and Microsoft had to make motion controlled devices for their consoles, just to compete.
4. Online Integration
Wait, this was number 4 on the other list too. Yes, I know, but this is my list, so my rules apply. The truth is that I have no idea whether I like or dislike that the internet has become woven in to our gaming experiences. Sure you can look at my complaints, which all still stand, but the truth of it is, it’s pretty damn awesome when it works.
I can play online with my friends in a matter of seconds, I can constantly get new patches to my games, I can make some of my favourite games ever even better with DLC and quite frankly, the convenience of it all is great. I can honestly say that I don’t play online multiplayer often, but I remember that first moment I played Halo 3 online with 7 of my friends, it was magical, I felt like I was going to vomit puppies and rainbows…In a good way.
3. Playstation Plus
Right okay, let me ask you guys a question, do you want to pay £40 a year to be able to do almost anything online, or do you want to spend that £40 on a years supply of awesome games? I think we all know the answer to this brain teaser. PS+ has given me some amazing games over the past couple of years, including some games I would have never played otherwise, a great example of this is Guacamelee.
Now, as much as I loved the art style of this game, and I saw the incredible reviews it was getting, I was probably not going to ever get round to buying it, due to the back log of other games I have yet to play. Boy was I stupid though, the game is funny, enjoyable and you can play it on your sofa with your luchador buddy. This is just one example, but when you get to play games like Borderlands 2, DmC, Grid 2, Metal Gear Rising and many many more, the price point feels insignificant, I don’t even need to buy PS3 games anymore, it’s fantastic.
2. The Indie Revolution
Now, if you have been paying attention to anything I’ve said so far, you’ll realise that I’ve had a problem with gaming feeling somewhat stale this generation, but as a matter of fact, I think I was lying slightly. This is mainly because the indie game scene, indie games have always been around, but this generation is the first time they have been widely available and brought to our attention.
Minecraft, Limbo, Braid, Terraria, The Binding Of Isaac, Gone Home, The Stanley Parable, Papers Please, Thomas Was Alone and even Guacamelee. I could go on for a while, but really you should go and discover them for yourself, my point is, these games are incredible, and some of them have even made me question how I can define a game. These brilliant teams have thought outside the box to bring us experiences like no other, it brings a smile to my smile, that’s right, a double smile.
1. The Games
What good is a gaming console without a game to play on it? The last generation of games have graced us with some of the greatest games of all time, and in my opinion, has produced more fantastic games than any other generation before it. These last few years have graced us with the likes of GTA IV+V, Super Mario Galaxy 1+2, the Mass Effect trilogy, the Uncharted trilogy, the Bioshock Trilogy and lord could I go on, there are literally hundreds of games that I recommend you should all play, and there are still plenty I’ve not gotten around to playing.
As much as this generation may be cheating, as it’s notably the longest console generation we’ve played through, (I mean, the 360 was out in 2005, that’s nearly a decade.) it certainly the one that wins out on quantity alone, other consoles have produced games that have been more influential, and more innovative, but I stand by my opinion. If it was based on games alone, I would have to say that last generation, was the finest gaming has ever produced.