Defining "Next-Gen"

I almost leaped into the "next generation" this week, as it's not that hard to find a 360 at either your local game store or mass merchants like Walmart and Best Buy anymore. But as I gave it some serious thought, aside from the still somewhat scary price tag (easily over $600 if you include a couple a games, at least one more controller, and a year's service of live, which is the best value); I had to really look and ask, what is the 360 offering that I can't currently get? Sure, it has prettier graphics and I can load custom soundtracks and whatnot, but really, what is the 360 offering that I can't already experience? Online play? Nope, I can already do that. Watching DVDs? I can already do that. And as I started thinking about it-A worrisome thought occurred to me: Neither Sony or Microsoft are really offering anything new-Now or in the near future, it seems. We see unparalled levels of graphic capabilty-but that doesn't change the basics of the game. What defines "next-gen", at least in my opinion, is truly different gameplay that wasn't possible before. There were huge leaps in terms of what games could actually do when gaming what from 8 to 16 to 32 to whatever bit the Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube roughly classify as. Halo, even with much simpler graphics, would simply not be possible on a PS one or a Dreamcast. 3D platforming games that we play today simply would not work on a snes or genesis. You get the idea. So, what are the upcoming games of next-gen really offering? Look at Fight Night 3. While the game is extremely-impressive looking on the 360, it's still at it's core not drastically different from versions on the Xbox or the PS2. Sure, the cuts look more real, and the punches look more brutal, but the game is still roughly the same at it's core. Or for an even better example-just take a look at Oblivion-it is a bigger, prettier version of Morrowind, but that's truly all it is. The core of the game remains the same. And I haven't seen anything in highly anticipated titles for either the 360 or the PS3 that screams-THIS GAME IS DIFFERENT AND NEW to me. Why is that? It boils down to philosphy-To both Sony and MS, their definition of next-gen is "more". More people being able to play online, more non-gaming related capabilites, more robust graphics. When really, the philosphy of next-gen should be "different". As in-We now offer something completely different than what you could do before. And I see that in the Nintendo Revolution. Their setup, assuming it performs to its potential, offers something different. If you've read the most current issue of Game Informer, you've undoubtedly read their huge cover feature on Red Steel. Now that is pretty much the definition of "different". I will admit, When I first saw the controller, I thought we'd simply be getting slightly better-looking versions of the crappy gimmick titles you'd get from things like Eye Toy. But, if Red Steel is any indication, Nintendo (and Ubisoft) has the right idea of what next-gen is actually suppossed to be-something I really couldn't experience previously. And that will really be the key to winning the console war in the long run.



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