Try and deny “GTA V” its applause for the recent full reveal of its online mode, and you’ll be left arms to your side amid an explosion of ovation that the announcement deserves. Ever since “GTA III,” gamers have dreamed of “GTA” online, and the reveal trailer showcases a mode that is everything you could possibly imagine and dreamed of when it comes to the concept, and then some.
However, there is a catch.
See, if you give any number of players guns and put them in an online world, their natural inclination will be to find each one another and shoot until those who are not them are dead. While that is certainly an element of the “GTA V” multiplayer experience (the trailer is largely focused on PvP confrontations) it’s clear that the better intentions of this mode are instead focused on group play and exploration of not only the landscape, but of the potential scenarios that can be created within it.
Simply put, asking a group of 16 (likely) strangers to jump into the “GTA” world and consider violence against each other to be a secondary measure, is asking a hell of a lot. Now that isn’t to say it’s impossible, or won’t occur after a period of time where everyone gets bored shooting each other, but it does mean the better and more exciting elements of this newish type of multiplayer design may not always be present in every session, and may only be accessible should you choose to form a tight bond with like minded players or just happen to get lucky and draw a server of those individuals randomly.
I’d like to believe that gamers will approach “GTA V” in a manner befitting the outside the box design the online element looks to provide, but there is a pessimistic urge honed by years of experience in online communities built off major release titles that makes me believe otherwise, and worries that a genuine effort to provide something truly great may be squandered by the very people it was built for.
I’m not that one standing sulkingly amidst the applause towards “GTA V’s” multiplayer mode, and in fact nurse sore hands from joining the commotion as feverishly as any, but the question no longer seems to be is Rockstar capable of delivering the type of online “GTA” world we’ve always wished for, but rather if the hordes of loyal fans capable of fully embracing it.
There’s a great line in a “Sopranos” episode where Tony confronts his long loved crush, and therapist, with the possibility that she may not have taken the chance to truly get to know him.
Forget the way Tony Soprano makes his way in the world. That’s to feed his children. There’s two Tony Sopranos…you’ve never seen that other one…That’s the one I want to show you
EA and Maxis must be relating to that quote now as it pertains to the new “SimCity,” because there are certainly two sides of the game. One is the game that critics have informed players is a brilliant mix of every great thing the series has become up until this point mixed with exciting new evolutions to the formula leading to a title every inch as great as it could be.
The other though is the one that the rest of the world is seeing. It’s the one that is causing the entire internet to roar in fury over the fact that they haven’t even gotten a chance to play the game yet due to server issues so encompassing, it can only be classified as an epidemic. Even if you’re lucky enough to log on to the game, you’ll most likely be booted in an instant for your audacity.
There is no greater example of this dynamic than the astounding difference between the critic review score (82) and the user review score (1.7) on metacritic.
It’s as if EA flipped the disaster option available in the game on in real life, and the name of the chosen catastrophe is “DRM,” as just like “Diablo III” you must be signed in to the internet at all times, even if playing by yourself, and just like that game, the server congestion this causes in unmanageable.
Companies say its a feture that will one day lead to better security in games, and unique social benefits. So far it has only led to catastrophic server issues that break games like Ivan Drago breaks opponents.
It must be stopped.
There can be no room for debate on this topic. Not for now anyway. Putting aside the absurd notion that a gamer can’t play the game they bought and installed without a high quality internet connection available at all times, the cases of “Diablo III” and “SimCity” show that any potential benefits this atrocity of an idea may yield are in no way able to be implemented safely yet.
Actually, let’s not put aside the absurd notion of the idea. Let’s hit it on the head, throw it in a bag, chain the bag, put the bag in the car, and drive the car in the ocean and never speak of it again. It’s a terrible concept that becomes insulting when you consider that the only real explanation of its current existence is that gamers will eventually get used to it.
Yeah well you get used to having your hand on a stove eventually, but you’ve still done permanent damage.
That’s what it boils down to. Even though gamers will one day be able to actually play the game they eagerly waited for and quickly snatched up, much like “Diablo III” and its sales records, “SimCity” will be a game forever tarnished by this incident, that no amount of figures or good will gestures will aid.
At the end of the day gamers just want to play this game, and EA and Maxis (oh who are we kidding, EA) have done the one thing that could prevent them from doing that, and seemingly did it knowingly, as there is no way they could not have seen something like this coming, considering the massive amount of pre-sale orders.
It’s a sick joke that a game years in development and all about effective planning, management, and creation, should be affected by problems that exhibit none of those ideas, and leaves what should be a world of thriving metropolises, into a nothing more than a large ghost town.
If Only They’d Known How Appropriate This Video Would Be
So before my mind spins out of control, let me make sure everyone is on the same page.
As previously rumored, there will be an “Assassin’s Creed IV”. It is officially called “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” and it sees you taking control of renowned pirate Captain Edward Kenway, who will be your assassin this evening.
In it, you’ll wield up to four guns, captain your own ship (complete with upgrades), spend almost half of the game at sea, lead daring attacks on enemy ships, survive storms, engage in multiplayer, meet historical pirate figures, somehow “play as yourself” in the new modern day segments, harpoon whales (which PETA is already having issues with), and fulfill your land lover duties in cities ranging from pirate havens to Havana, Cuba and 50 overall various locations.
One would assume you’ll also assassinate a templar or two, unless this series has decided that it’s now yo ho ho, a bottle of rum, and the pirates life for it.
Now how is all of this, and more, known in roughly just 24 hours’ time? Because Ubisoft told us of course. They released the details, concept art, and even a trailer, which, in typical “Assassin’s Creed” fashion, is jaw dropping.
Oh, and there is one other thing. It’s coming out this year. As in the 2013 calendar year.
Ubisoft is insisting though that this is not a quick cash in attempt, and instead a true continuation of the series. You may have gathered this by that spiffy IV in the title, which sources tell me usually numerically follows the III seen in the previous “Assasin’s Creed” game, thus confirming Ubi’s claims,but the real evidence comes from the fact that Ubisoft has reported this game has been in development since 2011.
Let’s go back to those numbers for a second shall we? “Assassin’s Creed III” came out in 2012, and “Assassin’s Creed IV” has been in development since 2011, also known as the same year “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” came out.
That’s three “Assassin’s Creed” games in 3 years, not counting mobile ports, two of which are claiming to be full fledged sequels, all of which were logically at some point in the works at the same time, which even if they were being handled by different staff and teams, is a hell of a lot of different manpower spread thin over a short period of time on one franchise.
Something smells rotten here, and it’s not a case of scurvy.
I wouldn’t normally be upset at this much “Assassin’s Creed” but, “Assassin’s Creed III” is only a handful of months old, and the promotional blitzkrieg of advertisements that preceded it, as well as the amazing sales figures that it resulted in is still very fresh. I also remember buying into the hype, and buying the game as well.
What I especially can’t forget though is the distinct impression that I was playing half of a game. “Assassin’s Creed III” was filled with incomplete ideas and half assed execution to spare, chocking the life out of the things that made it genuinely impressive and creatively exciting. I remember the distinct feeling that I was playing a game that peaked early in the concept stages, and slacked off for the rest of its development time. For the life of me though, I couldn’t understand how it happened.
It’s all a little clearer now though, and a hell of a lot more disturbing. “Assassin’s Creed III” didn’t feel like the game it should have been, and now we’re already gearing up for “Assassin’s Creed IV.” So what was “Assassin’s Creed III” then?
Was it a preview of what was to come as the surprisingly expansive naval aspects suggested?
Was it an enhanced spin off masquerading as a full-fledged sequel for higher sales figures?
And what does that make “Assassin’s Creed IV”? Is it an apology? The true sequel all along? Or was it in fact originally the spinoff now taking the mantle as a sequel because it got the true development attention during all this time?
I hate to have to ask these questions, but when you’re dealing with such questionable practices what else could there be?
I’m left with nothing but questions as to why Ubisoft is releasing “Assassin’s Creed” installments like they are Madden titles. How can they release a clearly half finished “Assassin’s Creed III” and then expect everyone to keep a straight face while having to swallow a game that is at best an apology or the “real sequel”, and at worst a cash in attempt to milk both the massive user bases of the current gen consoles as well as attack the eager wallets of the soon to be early adopters of the next generation as well when this game hits PS4?
Like I said, none of this would matter had “Assassin’s Creed III” felt like everything it could be, and a game that got the full attention it deserved. It didn’t in either case.
So while, everything shown so far about “Assassin’s Creed IV” shows a great looking game, and is one that is certainly exciting based on early impressions alone, considering those were my exact feelings about “Assassin’s Creed III” , which only left me feeling half full, should I prepare to drop another $60 on “Assassin’s Creed IV” to chance filling that void?
Nah. At this rate I’ll just wait for “Assassin’s Creed V”, no doubt under way now and scheduled for 2014.
“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author)
I truly, truly hope that the above quote is correct because this week in video games we saw a case of a dangerous old way of thinking and a potentially new idea of thinking that if carried over to other projects, and taken in as a new idea, will stretch the limits of what we once believed to be standard, or even possible.
Ironically whereas “Hitman” is a game ideally about subtlety, and the art of skill, it’s story has all of the approach and delivery of a blunt hammer to the face delivered by a laughing lunatic. On the other hand, a game like “The Walking Dead” (which often asks the player to smash something in the head with a blunt object) delivers a tale so refined that we must now be careful how we speak of other game’s stories while praising them so we don’t accidentally lump them in the same league with “The Walking Dead” and therefore lose perspective.
“Hitman” is a dangerous game, and I’m not talking about the controversy surrounding the sexy nun enemies, or the general violence of the title. Instead it’s a dangerous game because of its disgusting and obvious story and stroytelling that,despite a couple of here and there moments of quality dialogue, fails to inspire a moment of emotional reaction, whatever that emotion may be . Whereas previous games in series wisely shunned a grand plot in favor of environment and mood as the larger themes, “Absolution” tries to go another route by making its presentation more of a high production, low grade movie. It’s every effort in that respect is so insultingly awful, it is the first game that should have not received the traditional M rating, but rather IM for “immature”.
Didn’t think that was funny? Well now you know how I feel as I tried to suffer through some of the most horrid attempts at sexual references, characters, plot, and of course comedy that have ever graced video games. It’s not even the content I’m against, but instead the delivery. It aims for Guy Ritchie, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino, and instead ends up with an effort more in line with the works of Roger Corman. The only difference was Corman’s schlock knew it was bad and had a sense of style about it, whereas “Hitman: Absolution” seems either unaware of how bad its bad really is, or otherwise doesn’t give a damn and couldn’t be bothered to make what’s there work.
“The Walking Dead” on the other hand? Don’t be surprised if the fifth and final episode in the game’s first season just won the series overall game of the year honors, as its use of characters and plot, and more importantly the player’s involvement in those aspects, is nothing short of revolutionary. The game works off of the same promise of “Mass Effect” or a TV show like “The Wire” where all the pieces supposedly matter, and what you do in the end will be just a reflection of the steps you took to get there.
Unlike “Mass Effect” though, but much like “The Wire”, “The Walking Dead” achieves this as suddenly your choices do come to bear upon you as you now are faced with the prospect of facing the tough moments that defined your journey in a fresh light, and only in the end when you see the ramifications of them are you given the gift of hindsight that allows you to regret, smile upon, and always question your choices, as the end results, and your reactions to them, give you something that few games ever have, and that is a better sense of who you are, and the person you’d maybe rather try to be.
Does a game like “Hitman” have to do the same? Well it would be nice, but that’s not the point. The point is that a title like that handles its story with a dangerous indifference can no longer be accepted. This is not the NES where a brief kidnapping of your girlfriend by some thugs leads to all the motivation you need to reach a single frame resolution and expect satisfaction. You don’t have to have a masterpiece story, but don’t try to pass an entire adventure that is framed by the mentality of the average thirteen year old boy, and done with all of the effort exhibited by the average two year old boy, and honestly tell yourself it is the best you can do without expecting to receive both the mixed reviews and mainstream public backlash you are getting now.
And if you do decide to be dumb and lazy in the same week, whatever you do don’t release that high profile game at the same time as a title that provides a blueprint for the future of the medium and expect to save face in the minds of either your peers, your critics, or your fans
That, and I’m sure the creators of “Hitman: Absolution” can understand this, would just be silly.