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 recent news stories of the game industry. This week, we discuss a busy summer release schedule, Batman: Arkham City's multiplayer, the length of Rage, Jack Tretton's treacherous comments and Mass Effect 3 details.
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.
'Tis the Season
Summer has long been the season that gamers most fear, and not only because the hot weather and long days encourage them to, you know, actually go outside and do stuff. No, it's because Summer is traditionally a wasteland in the world of video games that stretches until the September release of Madden heralds the arrival of the Fall and the heated run-up to Black Friday.
This year, things are looking different. Rockstar's amazing-looking L.A. Noire is due out May 17th. Red Faction: Armageddon follows on May 31st, and Sony's inFamous 2 hits just days later, on June 7th. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is also due in June, as is Dungeon Siege 3, on the 21st. What gives? Have publishers finally figured out that people like to play games all year round?
Of course, the real question is how well these games will sell. If any of them significantly under-perform, it's a safe bet that Summer 2012 will return to the grim patterns of the past. So, if you care about games, do the responsible thing this Summer -- stay in doors and play them.
Don't Tease Me Bro [Batman: Arkham City]
So, first we had the rumours about Batman: Arkham City having multiplayer. Then Dax Ginn said that it wasn't true. Then he explained why it wasn't going to happen. That was all fine. Then he explained it again... and again. And then he says that they were thinking about including it before changing their minds. What next, is he going to say "well, we might possibly maybe think about doing something like that in the next game"? Why is this still an important topic?
I don't know who's responsible for this still going on, but just let it go already! Seriously, we get it, Batman won't have multiplayer. Fine, it'll still be an awesome game. So drop the subject so Dax can talk about something else. Like what other villains will show up.
It's How You Use It [Rage]
A recent interview on the upcoming open-world shooter, Rage, that revealed the game would span two discs on the Xbox 360 but only take around 15 hours to complete once again brought up the topic of game length. After the recent debacle that was Homefront, many gamers have ascribed to the quantity over quality adage — claiming that if quantity is present then quality must not be far behind.
However, especially in the case of Rage, games can sometimes focus on quality and do a little skimping on the quantity portion while still being solid. If a video game can deliver a variety of gameplay mechanics and be visually interesting the whole way through, it’s really hard to knock its length. Obviously, price points also get called into question here, but strictly speaking in terms of the quality of the experience, would you forgive a game that is between 5 and 10 hours, but that is extremely fun to play?
Everybody Hurts Sometimes [Sony]
PlayStation's CEO Jack Tretton recently stated that Nintendo created "babysitting tools", while the Xbox 360 was just "running on steam." I really couldn't disagree more with his ignorant statements, and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this. The Wii and Xbox 360 may not have a line-up of games in 2011 that can even come close to the PS3's, but that doesn't mean that either of the other system is on its last legs.
Tretton also said that Nintendo's 'Game Boy experience' was a great way to keep kids preoccupied on airplanes, but that no self-respecting 20-something year old would be caught dead with a Nintendo handheld in public. I am 20 and I walk around with my 3DS in-pocket all the time, hell, I know other adults in the industry that carry their 3DS around with them all the time and we all seem to be okay with it. Tretton is low-balling the competition, but CEO's aren't going to go around praising their rivals and their products so nobody should really be surprised.
Let's Give a Team Effort [Mass Effect 3]
Mass Effect 3 made a big splash this week, due to its unveiling occurring in the latest issue of Game Informer. It was finally confirmed that there would be no multiplayer in the trilogy-closing game, but plenty of details about the weapons, characters and story were hinted upon.
Regardless of which characters, new and old, join Commander Shepard on his quest to save Earth, what's important is that BioWare give them all a purpose. The series thus far has mostly involved the team standing around on the Normandy and doing nothing all game. The final act of Mass Effect 2 however, brilliantly gave them all purpose and let players utilize all of the characters by giving them tasks while Shepard and his/her party completes the main mission. Mass Effect 3 should all be about that and take advantage of more opportunities to control the entire team. There's no point in having a roster of a dozen combatants if you're only using the same three...