Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

GAME BYTES: New Console Generation, Meet New Ideas

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

GAME BYTES: New Console Generation, Meet New Ideas

Article excerpt

Though a new generation of video game hardware has begun, the old one isn't really dead and won't be until studios stop making games only on the old hardware and not on the new, in a year or two. Still, now is as good a time as ever to reflect on what we've experienced in the past nine years since "Half-Life 2" was released on the PC -- I think that really began the seventh generation a year ahead of the Xbox 360's launch just because of its use of realistic physics.

The promise of this past generation was in just that: realism. We got games in HD, with a shocking improvement in texture quality. We got the year 2007, which gave us perhaps the greatest few months in gaming history thanks to "Bioshock," "Mass Effect," "Assassin's Creed," "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," "Rock Band," "Portal," "Skate," "Half-Life 2: Episode Two," "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune," "Super Mario Galaxy," "World in Conflict" and "Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction." Each of those could have been considered a

generational-defining thing, but there were just too many to deal with. That didn't stop "Modern Warfare" from starting the present shooter craze or "Uncharted" from initiating the trend toward motion capture.

Somehow, things did actually get a little bit better from there, if not in such a dense manner. "Skate," "Portal," "Uncharted," "Mario Galaxy" and "Ratchet & Clank" sequels all significantly upped the ante in every way (in terms of quality). On the other hand, we're now well past the peak density of exciting experiences this generation. There have been great, amazing games, but just not in anything approaching a furious rate. And this year we've had a number of shiny new releases that are mostly just pretty good but not spectacular. The year 2013 has been the very definition of "going through the motions" even as we have this new hardware that in no way provides appreciably new sorts of experiences, at least not yet. The things we see coming, even, look like the things we just saw. …

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