Six Games That Won't Be Worth The Hype
Today's hyperbole, tomorrow's 7/10? Kikizo runs a cynical eye over some of the biggest upcoming console releases.
Hype. We're sure you've stumbled across the term. Here's the Oxford English Dictionary definition: "noun. b. (the usual current sense.) Deception, cheating; a confidence trick, a racket, a swindle, a publicity stunt". Most online dictionaries follow suit, e.g. "2. Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material" (thefreedictionary.com). And here's our own, personal take: "noun 1. an elevated legume; 2. Storm-in-teacup bollocks concocted by over-eager and/or lazy marketing departments/internet pundits to jerk off shallow consumers/other internet pundits". Ah, the beauties of the English tongue.
As any veteran of the online gaming community will know, hype moves in peaks and troughs. There's the warm-up period whenever a big title is announced, the web shuddering and seething as over-statement after over-statement comes roaring out of deep space, and the cooling-off part once it transpires that said big title isn't quite Christ's Second Coming.
Having lunched on the rotten apple of Unrealistic Expectations one time too many, Kikizo has decided to do the disillusionment bit first. Here are six names-in-lights from the next twelve months, what the hype machine has said about them (garnished with quotes from our very own forums), and why we think the end result won't be quite so grand. Score predictions and probable reviewer's summaries are included.
(All of which is going to piss some of you right off, so here's a qualification: we think all six will be good - even great - games. We just don't think these titles will cancel out global poverty, pay for your mail order bride and do the laundry. Think of this as one, light-hearted, industry-wide pinch of salt...)
God of War 3
What they've said about it:
"HOLY HOLY HOLY F**KING HELL!!!!" - David Jaffe, God of War Director (leaked email)
"It would be my goal, however long the game is - we're still pacing it out and everything like that - but if the player never gets up and goes to the bathroom. If he wears a diaper and plays, I'd be fine with that." - Todd Papy, Design Director (Destructoid interview)
"The only thing that wasn't there that I expected were a bunch of naked women." Kikizo forum member Demonoroth on the E3 trailer
Oh yes, we're calling it. The third and allegedly final entry in the God of War series kicks off with the ever-irritable Kratos ascending Mount Olympus on the back of a 20 kilometre tall Titan, butchering centaurs, skeletal warriors and the odd Cyclops as his city-sized host carries him toward a final reckoning with the Olympian gods. As far as opening credits go, they don't come much meatier. But will that epic introduction spill over into a colossal Metacritic average? Possibly not.
Our beef with God of War 3 is straightforward: thus far, it looks like the same but bigger. There might be 50 opponents on-screen as opposed to 15, and it might take two PS2s to process Kratos in his new high definition garb, but much of the material we've seen suggests a familiar gameplay grab-bag of melee combos, orb collection and bone-splintering mash-the-pad sequences.
What "new" stuff there is leaves a dull taste in the mouth. Wall-running? Ubisoft wants that back when you've finished with it, Sony. Giant metal boxing gloves? Kratos had one half of a set in the PSP spin-off Chains of Olympus. Real-time weapons changing? Now where have we heard that before?
Noteworthier features include the ability to "hijack" a towering cyclops (among other mythical fauna) in order to take out shielded grunts, which we're worried will quite literally flatten the difficulty curve in places, and the presence of "leader" units which power-up the AI routines of standard enemies. This last one sounds pretty cool, actually.
Then there's the Titan-riding bit, which sounds even cooler but must be a nightmare to balance. Much of the game takes place atop one of these enormous entities, which are effectively vast moving environments with their own flora, fauna and geological attributes. As Kratos scurries to and fro laying down the law with his Blades of Chaos, walls will become floors, forested hillsides reveal themselves to be enormous arms, and sandy dunes abruptly shift and tip over into the abyss.
The way we see it, there are two ways Sony Santa Monica could screw this up. If the levels are too heavily scripted, the Titans will serve as little more than a set of gigantic bells and whistles - a mildly more bad-ass narrative justification for the previous games' tightly choreographed brand of environmental chaos. If the scripting goes out the window, the sheer unpredictability of it all could put easily frustrated players off.
Probable appalling reviewer's quip: "God of Bore"
Likely score: Two cyclops eyeballs out of three.