E3 2012 has been very telling of just what direction most developers are going in a game-play sense with existing franchises. Games previously known for the slower, deliberate, scary, or tactical gameplay all seemed to be taken in the opposite direction to the nth degree. Let’s do a quick recap.
Tomb Raider, a game traditionally known for exploration and discovery, was letting it’s Uncharted show a whole lot in it’s presentation. Falling down or off of something for pretty much the entire presentation, I was in disbelief that she was even alive by the end of the thing. Explosions, constant gunfire, and a shite-ton of intense, seat-of-her-pants falling were all over the trailer; a far cry from the T-Rex encounter from the first game.
Resident Evil 6 struck a similar chord, with Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield running from explosions, crashing a helicopter, and then falling (what is it with all the falling?) from said helicopter. For a game that is supposedly from the survival horror (not so much in the last few years) genre, it sure felt more like I was watching the presenters play an interactive John Woo flik with a slight zombie bend. The pair spent way more time running and falling than they did blasting zombies.
Then there was Splinter Cell: Blacklist, a game that hails from the stealth genre. While being “stealthy,” Sam Fisher shot, stabbed, or broke the neck of every terrorist in his way while barreling full tilt into several gunfights. If you’re confused as to why I used “stealthy” to describe that sequence, you’re not alone. It all climaxed with a missile strike on an assault vehicle and a breach-and-clear into a crowded room. It all looked very slick and I could see how intuitive gamers could be stealthy, but the ‘splosions sure were emphasized.
EA’s Dead Space 3 was also aiming to be cinematic. I’m fairly certain that there were more shots fired in the 30-or-so second game play introduction than there were in the first game entirely. I saw Isaac running from a massive monster, what looked like some tumbling wreckage, and blazing away with assault weapons. It was all very action-oriented and didn’t look like it would have the feel of the games prior.
What does all of this mean? That these games won’t necessarily be crap (they all looked like they could be great), but the essence of what makes these series what they are is rapidly changing. It seems like the developers really, really want to one-up each other in the pants-shittingly-actiony-blowey-uppey moments. In other areas, such as game play, that is yet to be seen.
This makes it seems like things are going to go one of two ways in the AAA market: we are about to get the most exciting and action-packed collection of games from some of the most understated franchises; or we are about to get the most similar, all-too-familiar collection of games from franchises that were once very distinct from each other. Hopefully, it turns out to be the latter of the two.
How do you feel about this even larger move towards “cinematic?” Is it taking away from what made your favorite franchises your favorite franchises? Or do you feel that they are adding to them? Let us know in the comments below!