Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial news stories of the week.
Since its release, the news on Homefront has continued to pile up, and two of our writers have some bones to pick on these happenings. On top of that, a few more buzzworthy console games (Crysis 2 & Dead Island) are causing a stir and the company behind Angry Birds, one of the most popular mobile titles ever, has some interesting opinions to share.
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.
How Important Can a Single Game Be?
Homefront has been on my mind this week. How could it not be? News about the game is absolutely everywhere. Before it ever released, we knew the developer's thoughts on a sequel; we knew how many copies it must sell in order to be successful; we knew how long the game's single player campaign would take to complete. Within 24 hours of launch, reports surfaced about the game's first day sales, about freezing issues, about the proposed length of the yet-to-be-confirmed sequel, and about the game's price being discounted. For me, it culminated in the news that the stock price of publisher THQ -- one of the five largest independent game publishers in the world -- took a 20% dive based on the reviews for Homefront. The reviews!
Why is the game so newsworthy? You'd think no other original FPS had ever been released. As the first game in a proposed franchise developed by a largely unproven studio, why would anyone expect the world of Homefront? There is a larger question here that concerns how much news about a game should color the experience of playing that game, and I don't claim know the answer. To be clear, Game Rant has certainly devoted significant real estate to Homefront coverage, as well we should have -- it made news, after all. But remember this: whether or not you play it, whether or not you like it, Homefront is just a game.
Defending the Homefront
While I would love to defend Kaos Studios' right to put out a 4-5 hour campaign, the truth of the matter is that Homefront's does indeed feel short. The problem likely stems from the pacing of the story which doesn't slow down in the right ways or at the right times. And when it does, it literally forces you to walk your way through the game. Kaos missed a lot of opportunity to create real drama and expand on the mythology of the bleak Korean-occupied future that awaits the American people.
Their promotional site, Inside the Occupation, told stories of children being brainwashed, an attack on Salt Lake City and an irradiated Mississippi, but none of these made significant appearances in the game. With Kaos talking about a sequel potentially having a 10-hour campaign, let us hope they use those hours to better expand on the game's imaginative setting.
Big Words, Bite-Sized Games
Angry Birds has been an extremely successful franchise for Rovio and co., but for the company's business development lead, Peter Vesterbacka, to suggest that console games are dying just because $0.99 games are selling well is certainly a bit of a stretch. There is absolutely a demographic for casual games - there is no denying that - but there is still a massive market for people who want a title with more depth. People don't spend $250 on a game console to play something like Angry Birds. They want games with a little more variety, immersiveness and (hopefully) story.
Vesterbacka's defence is that he's never heard of "casual movies" so how could there be "casual games." Well, games are a little different from films, Peter. This is because of the ability to interact and control what's happening on-screen. Story, content and controls all add depth to a video game, and once in a while, people want something a little deeper than what is available on the App Store.
Crysis 2 Looks Bad On PS3?
Empirical evidence aside from the complaints regarding the PS3 Crysis 2 demo, it will not be a horrible looking game, no matter what platform its being played on. Yes, running the game on a PC will most likely get your maximum return on graphic investment, but the fact the game looks as good as it does on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is amazing.
Video games are coming up on a level of graphic capability that was only dreamed of years ago, so it's kind of annoying to see people pull the smallest hairs just to further the console war. When you have multi-platform releases, there's always the possibility of a 360 version looking better. Why? Developers have had more time to work with the device and optimize an experience. It's a console that's easier to program and optimize for. There are some exceptions, but with CryENGINE 3 able to scale performance to hardware, I would find it difficult to believe people wouldn't buy Crysis 2 for a PS3 if that's their preferred console. At the end of the day, it's about the gameplay.
The Vacation's Over
This week saw the release of three new screens for Dead Island which beg the question: where is that awesome trailer in video game form? Granted, said piece of marketing was carefully crafted by a team other than Techland, but that doesn’t mean the developer couldn’t have put together marketing materials that mirror that emotional journey gamers became so invested in.
While Dead Island is most likely going to go down as a title whose trailer far exceeded its actual presentation, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good game to be found. Instead of capitalizing on a buzz product that got everybody from big name studio directors to your neighbor down the street talking, Deep Silver let that enthusiasm fizzle out. Now we’re left with the usual screenshots of eerie resort locations, and pining for that magic we felt a month ago.
What are your thoughts on the news this week? Share with us in the comments and on Twitter @GameRant.