WHY GAMES AREN'T AS GOOD AS THEY USED TO BE
Posted By RedDog 30/11/14
Due to my rather ambiguous title, please allow me to explain what this article is all about. In a nut shell, I will be covering a few reasons why I believe that despite the major advancements in technology throughout recent years, exceptional video games seem to be rarer than ever!
Of course, there are still excellent games hitting the shelves (and available for download) but in a lot of cases, modern games seem to lack the depth and charm of the classics from years ago. Is it just nostalgia that makes me think this way? Mayhap it is and mayhap it ain't ... but either way, it should raise an interesting topic (if you give a toss about this type of thing, that is). Below, I have listed a few reasons that I feel will validate my opinion ... video games just ain't what they used to be!
FOCUSING ON THE WRONG THING
I've got two words for you ... Square Enix. Ask one-thousand RPG nerds what their favourite Final Fantasy game is and I'm willing to bet good money that Final Fantasy VI will get the most votes. I'd also be willing to bet that Final Fantasy XIII would be near the bottom of this list ... even possibly sitting at rock bottom! The alarming thing is that Square Enix had fifteen years of technical advancements at their disposal when they created the thirteenth installment in the series. Obviously, XIII blows VI out of the water when it comes to graphics and overall visuals but many would argue that the remainder of the contest leans heavily in favour of Final Fantasy VI. Quite simply, the older game is far superior when it comes to storyline, atmosphere, character development, music, freedom, emotion, leveling up and overall experience.
I could easily write a whole article on the above, but this is just one example of how modern games suffer from developers spending way too much time on visuals and gimmicks, ignoring vital aspects that capture the imagination of the player. This is not just an issue that plagues the Final Fantasy series ... you could argue that the Resident Evil series peaked with the second instalment and had completely lost it's way when Resident Evil 6 was released fourteen years later. This is despite the fact that Resident Evil 2 was a mass of blocky graphics and clunky controls. Somehow, as the series continued to progress, it just seemed to lose it's amazing atmosphere and overall impact regardless of the vastly improved visuals. Admittedly, many believe that Resident Evil 4 (2005) was a phenomenal overhaul of the series, but amazingly, this is nearly ten years old now!
Remember Cannon Fodder? A fantastically tactical war game with tiny little sprites blowing each other up. These days, shelves are packed with war games where you run around in first person shooting the shit out of everything. Sure, these games look fantastic and can be fun for a while, but they lack the depth and overall charm of the older games.
Just ask Sega if the massive advancements in technology have helped them advance the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Since the game moved from the ancient Sega Megadrive, it's never been able to recapture it's original magic. What's more, this issue isn't just detrimental to video games. I could easily write pages about how the same problem is plaguing modern day movies!
USE OUR IMAGINATION? NO THANKS ...
Have you heard the phrase 'The movie is never as good as the book?' ... part of this reason is due to the fact that books make you use your imagination. When the character's faces, voices and surrounding environments are 'in your head', it can greatly enhance the emotion and impact of the experience. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the older RPG's because I was able to form my own interpretation of how the characters looked, sounded and how the 2D pixelated graphics may have appeared in 'reality'. Modern games leave very little to your imagination as the graphics are practically life-like and every character has a voice and the exact personality that the developers want you to see.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
To emphasise my point, I will use the Dizzy games from the eighties as an example. There were so many technical restrictions back then, the developers had to use the most simple shape possible for the character sprite (an egg with arms and legs) and the controls were limited to left, right, jump and select. Somehow, the egg character added a wacky appeal to the series and the simple nature of the controls and puzzles made the game instantly accessible to everyone. When you look at modern games, the puzzles and controls are so elaborate that it can be easy for a casual gamer to be overwhelmed and lose interest easily. Every button on the control pad, including shoulder buttons, L3, R3 etc. are required and some games even require you shake and tilt it! While this is not always a bad thing, sometimes I really miss the simplicity of older games ... less is more!
EASY, EASY, EASY!
Let's face it, the overall challenge of video games has dropped dramatically over the last couple of decades. Back in the good old days, when you ran out of lives, that was it! Admittedly, this would be extremely harsh on a 30 hour plus RPG to make you start again when you died, but taking Final Fantasy III as an example ... the overall challenge in-between save points was so great, that you felt rewarded when you reached the next one. These days, games autosave every few seconds so you never get that feeling of risk and you know you can afford to make a mistake as it won't cost you dearly. I am certainly not referring to Dark Souls when I make this point, but I absolutely loved that game and it's one of the few modern titles that gets everything right in my opinion.
In addition to this, modern games tend to hold your hand through the whole experience, this may minimise the level of frustration but it also greatly reduces the feeling of reward when you have completed the game!
These are just a few reasons why games aren't as good as they used to be. I may well add to this article as more factors suddenly pop into my head! So ... What do you think?