Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five of our writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, the Game Rant team discusses the announcements made and games shown off at Gamescom 2011, EA’s interesting choices regarding Battlefield 3, our chat with Insomniac about the future of Spyro, and enhancements being made to Borderlands 2.
Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.
Cut Me a Slice
Gamescom has come in a whirlwind of photos, videos, and big news with none so big as Sony’s announcement last Monday that they would be slashing PS3 prices. The first time in three years, the new price point couldn’t come at a better time as summer draws to a close and the winter release season enters.
This is the best time of the year for the gaming industry, and considering Sony has the upper hand just gives the price reduction that much more impact. With games like Resistance 3, Uncharted 3, and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One leading Sony’s exclusivity charge, Microsoft and the Xbox 360 may have a hard time sustaining their aggressive sales lead without a similar price drop. But, Microsoft does have Gears of War 3, Halo: Anniversary and Forza Motorsport 4 on the way so we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.
Shooting Yourself In The Foot
EA was poised to take the shooter world by storm this October. With a game that was clearly built from the ground up to take advantage of high end PC’s – not to mention the amount of Call of Duty fans finding disappointment with their go-to franchise - Battlefield 3 would have taken sufficient market share from Call of Duty, especially on the PC. However, now it seems that with all of the mistakes EA has made – in respect to the PC version – Battlefield 3 won’t reach it’s true potential.
I’m not going to detail the Origin / Steam debacle, that’s been covered numerous times. But Activision‘s decisions to put obligatory features in the PC version of Modern Warfare 3 like dedicated servers will ultimately cause many to rethink their decision to purchase Battlefield 3 on the PC. Sure BF3 may look gorgeous and feature a high player count, but through EA’s greed they’ve created a more consolized version of Battlefield 3 for those who do not want it. While this won’t spell doom for Battlefield 3, it will end up in some lost sales to their competitors. Bad time for bad buzz.
Is the Picture Worth a Thousand Words?
During Germany’s Gamescom event, gamers saw a ton of promotional material being released in the form of screenshots and trailers. While each provided closer looks at some of this and next year’s most anticipated titles, the prevelance of screenshots made me ponder: do gamers look forward to screenshots?
Obviously with a very hands-on media like video games, the ideal promotional material would be in the form of a demo, but unfortunately that possibility isn’t feasible. Instead, we get gameplay trailers that show the core mechanics of a title, along with brief hints at the narrative, but oftentimes those might spoil the experience.
Screenshots, on the other hand, might show a new level or give gamers a sense of the art style, but, taken out of context, they can be fairly inconsequential. So I ask you: are screenshots a worthwhile piece of promotional material, or are they simply the amuse-bouche before a trailer?
Old-School Spyro Gone For Good
Game Rant‘s own Riley Little got a chance to talk to Resistance 3‘s Creative Director Marcus Smith at a press event in Toronto recently, and asked him if Insomniac would ever revisit the franchise that put them on the map, the Spyro the Dragon series. Mr. Smith said no, explaining that they wanted to focus on new projects rather than just make sequels to pre-existing titles.
This may be just the old-school nostalgic gamer in me talking, but this is a huge disappointment. Nothing against the Legend of Spyro series, but the original Spyro trilogy on the PS1 was where the series really shined. They were three simple, fun treasure-hunts, with a balanced difficulty curve that didn’t make you want to pull your hair out. The story was quirky and light-hearted, without being TOO kiddy. The series just hasn’t been the same since, and to find out that it will never go back to that is just sad.
Thanks for the memories, Insomniac.
Bordering on the Incredible
After an interesting and slightly rocky accidental announcement and the leaked Borderlands 2 gameplay video, everyone has settled down and started to get genuinely excited about Borderlands 2. It took me almost two years to finally pick the game up, but having just recently gotten extremely invested in the campaign, I cannot wait to see how Gearbox plans on improving what is already a solid mashup of game design concepts.
The cooperative elements of the game is clearly its main draw, and what led to such rave reviews the first go ’round. Now multiplayer is going to be even easier (2 player split-screen can jump online). Gearbox have certainly had their ups and downs over the past few years, but gamers can pretty much always bet on the Borderlands franchise.
Last but not least, the story in Borderlands was forgettable at best, and had the gameplay been any less solid, it would have been a much harder sell. Gearbox staffers have washed our worries away by not only confirming story is going to be a major priority, but also by putting Anthony Burch behind that story. In case you don’t know who Anthony Burch is, go watch Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’ immediately (expletives may arise). On behalf of the team at Game Rant, I cannot wait to see how this sequel turns out.