These days it seems like some of the games that come out with a lot of hype and excitement about them simply aren’t that good. You only need to look at titles such as Duke Nukem, one of the modern industry’s greatest flops, or Call of Duty version 39 (or whatever it is we are at now) to see that sometimes we just don’t seem to be going anywhere very new, exciting or inspiring very fast. At the same time as these modern productions are making some gamers cry in corners, asking themselves “what the hell happened?”, some games from the past are starting to make a grand reappearance. These include titles such as HD re-releases of classics such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater or Hitman, but also classic titles which are being entirely brought back to life from the ashes, such as Elite, the Dungeon Keeper inspired War for the Overworld, or the rebooted Half-Life development; Black Mesa. This might make some people question then whether or not the next generation is the future we should be looking for, or whether instead we should be looking back to find the way forward.
Now maybe more than ever before the gaming industry seems to be dividing and heading in both of these directions. While major corporation push forwards to try and create the most powerful and popular systems, smaller organisations or individuals are keeping it simple and sticking to what they know, hoping to give gamers back something they will love and remember. Neither one of these might be considered the “correct” direction to go, as undoubtedly people will follow each of them, and more dedicated gamers will possibly follow both. The question is however, if we can stick to what was popular in the past and still see evidence of its popularity today, why do we even need these new, more extreme systems to play games that cost gamers a gold mine and in some cases simply leave us feeling disappointed.
History has left us with some true classics. Some of the most popular games ever created come from years and years ago rather than in the last few.
Goldeneye on the N64 is maybe the prime example. It is the game that many people first use to compare a new shooter to if they don’t like its style, simply because the way that it worked was fast paced, detailed and frankly it was fun. A lot of shooters these days have a tendency to take themselves too seriously and lack this crucial fun factor. Nothing quite beats the thrill of getting a kill from across a map by throwing your top hat at your friend. Gamers themselves also seem to have changed alongside these games however, with people playing online often just getting aggressive and offensive rather than seeming to just enjoy the game that they have spent their hard earned money on.
Of course, Goldeneye compared to more recent shooters is just one example. The fact however that some of the most popular titles today are continuations of past sagas stands to evidence that gamers are still enjoying what has been before. A strong example of this is the Tomb Raider series, which while it has seemed to loose sight of what made it great in some of its recent releases still manages to make it onto the shelves and be vastly popular among gamers. Similarly, characters such as Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog don’t seem to be going anywhere or loosing any fans anytime soon. This is not to say however that newer titles are not popular. In fact to say this would be simply wrong. Titles such as Halo, Assassins Creed or The Elder Scrolls series are clear examples that new games can be incredibly popular as well. Again however, the point is why do we keep fighting uphill if we already have a solid base that we know that gamers know and love?
In reality of course, the industry is going to keep trying to better itself whether this is a sensible move which will lead to some great titles in the future or one which will see a lack of the spark that seemed set the past alight and brighten our experience. The main reason for this is simply to stay alive. Without continued development and the perception by gamers that what has been made next is “the best”, developers of gaming systems and games alike cannot survive in the industry. It is inevitable that gamers will continue to buy and follow what is new, because of the natural human desire to stick with fashions and have what is, at that point in time, perceived to be the best. For this reason, sticking to the past, however popular these older games may be, is simply not an option to major developers whether they should like to do so or not.
While I might identify that some modern games just aren’t as good as old ones, and know that I can still access these classics if I wish, I too will follow new developments as well as these blasts from the past. Why? Because whether I want to spend my money on these new things, or know that I may be disappointed whereas the alternative may promise more fun, if you don’t stay up to date in the industry you will eventually be left behind with nothing new to do. Small developments may or may not keep coming, as this is only possible while the money and interest is there. Once these have gone, there is only one other way to look; to the future. That, my friends, is why new developments win the fight, and at the end of the day while time may appear to be an enemy of the industry in some cases, it is in actual fact one of its greatest allies…