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The Next Level In Gaming

A person or a team of a company’s most highly skilled creative team are issued the task of creating a new IP (Intellectual Property) and cannot sleep until the light bulb shines. They resort to antics such as: recycling past heroes and taking their key skills and looks, they maybe even brainstorm ludicrous plots and obscene protagonists. I mean come on, a plumber that eats mushrooms? How is that going to be a succe……….

Well I’m sure you get my point; a new franchise needs to have that chemical that hasn’t been discovered before and more importantly, a chemical that gamers will embrace with open arms. Some have tried and some have most certainly failed: Damnation was just a gut-wrenching mess of epic proportions as it failed to establish a convincing western  setting and failed to achieve even the most basic elements of Gaming 101. Naughty Bear was an interesting vision that conceptualised murder and tactical espionage in the form of cuddly bears; however poor mechanics couldn’t make the vision a fitting reality. The most recent attempt to drop a bombshell in the rivalry of football dominance between Fifa and Pro Evolution Soccer was Pure Football. Ubisoft’s effort to grab a part of this EA and Konami dominated market was unsuccessful as it publicised street orientated environments whilst delivering the classy football that Barcelona deliver on a regular basis. The belated gameplay suffers through terrible gauges that often slow the gameplay with irrational gameplay occurrences making for a plethora of random moments and an indifferent session of “football”.

I’ve dug deep and saved my most notable game (from my own stand point)  that was hyped to the max, and was delayed in an attempt to create THE defining game of its genre. It even had the unfortunate tagline, like so many, of being the Halo killer. Free Radical had quite a prestigious reputation following the success of the comedic alien shooter series, Timesplitters. Nevertheless, hype alone is not enough and despite investment of time and money, Haze was not up to the part. I myself had waited for months constantly homing on every tidbit of information I could get my excited palms on, I’d even been made to suffer the rare disappointment of a Christmas delay….ouch. Regardless of my biased affiliation for Haze, to the extent of buying it! I confess that it was half of what it should have been. The story was just not engaging and was confusing, the graphics were fraudulent of their initial screenshot counter-parts and the AI was child-like in that it was more than likely designed b a child. These examples just go to show that a new IP needs to only climb the walls of what’s accepted as being a top game but also break them down Chris Jericho style.

Ahhh! Halo still reigns supreme!

Conversely, many many games HAVE been able to shatter those walls by delivering on their promise and hype of being the new game in the market. But in this modern age where new titles have to deliver otherwise the established market titles will eat them up and spit them out before they even get a sniff of success. If a new FPS enters the arena of shooters then they have to be prepared to try to, maybe not dethrone the top dogs such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, but certainly put up a reasonable enough fight to make themselves heard. Epic Games adventurous game, Bulletstorm, was an innovative new title that captured the hearts of many. Its straight up ridiculous nonchalant attitude towards the willingness to manipulate gamers minds to want you to kill your enemy in the most skill and imaginative way possible. It was successful and will probably warrant a follow-up. On the other hand, Homefront took the rather boring and trendy route for their game by delivering a plot set in the near future with US forces fighting the Middle-East *yawn*. Ok if you’re going to do what everyone else does then at least make it mind-blowingly good; oh wait you didn’t and therefore had an above average FPS which doesn’t make your new IP so successful. My point can be traced back to the very roots of this article with my reference to the uniqueness of Mario and it proved to be a success, I’m aware it deals with different periods of time but I feel the principle is still valid. There is nothing remotely unique about Homefront and it offers nothing new to the genre or anything new at all really except the worst grenade animation to have ever existed.

Dead Space, infamous, LittleBigPlanet, Dead Rising among others have been some of the successful titles in recent years to have attracted that large fan base. All are different and all have their own factors to make them a very memorable experience which is what invites a gamer to sample its well thought-out qualities. To this very day they’ve all spawned numerous sequels and DLC episodes which have been made possible because they’re terrific titles. However due to the unfair nature of the world, some games that are brilliant or highly enjoyable end up not only falling second-best to inferior games, but they end up being so neglected by the community that another game is never made in that particular series as a result of its lack of success.

It's ok Sackboy, your IP is one of the lucky ones.

 Similar to the poor IP’s I have discussed, I will now begin to discuss 4 more IP’s that were, in my opinion and the opinion of many recognised reviewers, very good games but failed to capture enough people’s hearts to warrant another title in the franchise. The first game in question is one of my favourite games ever and is called XIII; a cel-shaded spy shooter. I’ll always remember how entertained I was by the game as it introduced new elements into an ever interesting story that slowly unravelled. But poor sales saw this hidden gem packed with variety get cast asunder when it definitely warranted a sequel. Moving onto game number 2 and we have a western shooter that DID get things right and it was quite simply called GUN. This game drew comparisons to its fellow western counter-part over a year after Read Dead Revolver’s release as they shared similar characteristics but I confidentially say that GUN was a superior game. Its mini-games and side quests such as the hunting were a great distraction and overall it was a much better package. Sales for the game were acceptable at around 1 million but it should’ve sold more and I can’t help but feel that if the Rockstar brand was attached to GUN then it certainly would’ve fared better and I wouldn’t be introducing you to this fine game now.

My beloved father introduced me to a most amusing and very strategic game entitled “Herdy Gerdy”. The objective is to take control of our odd-looking protagonist, Gerdy, and to herd creatures into pens to unlock the next level. While the principle seems basic enough, the game is varied with different creatures requiring different methods of capture; my personal favourite being the big pink bear known as a Gromp. A beautifully varied game in terms of scenic appeal along with solid gameplay makes for a great game and despite moderate success; it wasn’t enough and a sequel could’ve really expanded on the mechanics and comedy to create a truly artistic and satisfying sequel.

Now my inspiration for this article was one game in particular that I received going on 5 years ago at Christmas; I’d played the demo of it and quite enjoyed it and must’ve mentioned it to my father who presumably bought it as a surprise for the coming Christmas. Needless to say it was a brilliant surprise and I immediately fell in love with the game as its blend of western and horror was so unusual but genuinely appealing. It had a memorable array of weapons, scary and (in a good way) detestable foes, a half-decent story, chilling music and was an overall completely fascinating and unexpected delight from start to finish. I’ve always showcased the game to people wherever possible to do my part of publicising the game, even 5 years later in the age of consoles we live in. It’s always been in my mind the most under-rated title to have existed and a several hundred games later my mind has not changed once bit. Jericho Cross may not be the most influential or dare I say it the most LIKABLE protagonist, but goddamnit the man has the honour and distinction of gracing such a fine game. Darkwatch 2 only faintly saw the light of day back in 2006 when a 1 minute video was shown at E3 showing it with the new technology of more powerful consoles; plus the new thrills it could bring. Sadly it’s 5 years later and this sad soul still mourns the loss of Darkwatch 2’s development and I have accepted that it’s successor is now a charred heap of preliminary sketches and designs never to be resurfaced again. *sigh*

What does the gaming future hold? Sequels galore? To be honest that was a rhetorical question as we all know that as long as the top selling titles (and we all know who they are) are aplenty then most game titles will be ending in a number. But with constant research and development and a boardroom full of creative minds, then we can always guarantee that a new and promising IP will be on the production line eventually. If not then a future journalist wannabe will still be using Mario has his reference to games as COD 26 will be dominating virtual reality consoles.

- Andrew Highton

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AndyHighton_YNWA On October - 26 - 2011

One Response so far.

  1. Leon says:

    An interesting read, Andrew!

    This is one of my biggest issues in gaming today – while sequels to many generic FPS games get churned out and sold like crazy, there are so many truly unique titles that simply don’t gain enough momentum to earn a real fanbase. Games like Call of Duty get sequel after sequel, while titles like Brutal Legend and Lost Planet 2 haven’t even come close to meeting the sales that Black Ops managed to reach on it’s release day alone, and are both getting less and less likely to gain futher sequel support in the future.

    Luckily I am one of the few people who did play Darkwatch – thanks to Rob – and it’s one of my favourite FPS games I’ve played. I’m not a fan of modern war style shooters, and the Gothic/Cowboy combination was fantastic. I’d definitely like to see more.

    At least the Darkness II is finally becoming a reality!

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