6 things all video games must have! But don't really need...

Ok, Scott Pilgrim failed. Epically. People can point to reasons why and why not, personally I like this article over at Den of Geek, basically pointing out that the initial box office probably doesn't actually matter for a film like this, as the fanbase and critics loved it, and it's almost bound to do very well on DVD.

Now, onto today's main topic: When considering making a game, what needs to go into it? It seems like there's almost a checklist these days that every single game needs to have a certain basic set of features. It's not a completely universal thing, but enough so that it's expected and getting to the point where even games as different as Fable & Red Dead Redemption are actually pretty similar on a lot of levels. Do games really need all this stuff? Probably not, which is why a lot of feels shoehorned in. So let's get to the list:

3-D!: 3-D has been around a long time. It's been the standard for games essentially since the original Playstation came out, and while a great many games have come out that wouldn't work without 3D, the consequence has been the near disappearance of fantastic 2D games. Why? Nintendo pretty much seems to get the idea that 2D is a really viable option, with their big holiday titles (Kirby's Epic Yarn & Donkey Kong Country Returns) being 2D, but that probably also has something to do with just how insanely successful New Super Mario Bros. does as well. There is an extreme lack of these on the PS3 and the 360 unless you count some of the games on PSN/XBLA. There is an audience for these, and given the skyrocketing budget of games these days, more developers should be looking that way.

Realism: This is arguably the hardest for me to understand as I'd say 99% of us play games to escape reality. Yet games getting more realistic is the in thing more and more. Bullets doing real damage, needing to eat, etc. Why? Why in games do you need to even consider this stuff? I really don't want to worry about maintaining relationships, my health by having to worry about what I eat or having to follow some kind of medical procedure (see Metal Gear Solid 3) instead of just using a goddamned medpac.

Moral Choice: With games like Mass Effect; Moral Choice is an essential gameplay element. Unfortunately, now it's being shoehorned into a lot of other games without much thought. You can be a complete bastard in Fable II or Red Dead Redemption, but it doesn't affect the story. And really, unless it changes the way the story plays out drastically, it's extremely unnecessary. But it's creeping into more and more titles with haphazard results. Arguably the biggest Wii title coming out this year is Epic Mickey, which seemed to actually have a really solid morality system, then after moronic focus testing, has some sort of middle ground that's sure to please no one compared to what it could have been.

An Open World: It really kickstarted with Grand Theft Auto III, and in that series and some like it, it makes sense. But many games just seem to throw in an open world without much thought to what to actually do, when a linear approach would've been much better. I mean sometimes just getting from point A to Point B in those is a laborious chore in itself. off the top of my head the perfect example is probably No More Heroes (which is a little older, but being remade for the 360 & PS3). A fantastic action game with an open world you must go through to get to your missions, but it was completely empty. No citizens, no random thugs to beat up, nothing. What was the point? Apparently none, as it was just dropped completely in the sequel.

Multi-Player: Bioshock was a fantastic single-player experience. I was hoping the sequel would offer something similar, but the single-player was diluted in favor of really mediocre multi-player. Splinter Cell sells itself as a gritty single-player spy game, but instead we get a very short single-player experience. Multi-player is all well and good, but not if it comes at the expense of delivering a quality, lengthy single-player one. Nearly every game these days really feels the need to put in some kind of multi-player aspect, no matter how minor. Even Dragonquest IX, an-old school style rpg, has completely unnecessary (and frankly, clumsy and pointless) multi-player features. It's the old trying to please everyone one while pleasing no one routine and its getting old. Game companies need to really realize that there are actually seperate audiences that can support a dedicated single-player experience, as well as a multi-player one, which brings to to my last item on the last:

Single-Player: This seems to be something the game companies are slowly realizing, with MMOs finally making once in a blue moon appearances on consoles (MAG, FFXIV, etc.), but most games seem content with hedging their bets, providing both single and multi-player, and one usually suffers horribly. Any multi-player game could probably succeed if it creates a really well-developed experience. The only reason PC gaming is still alive is because it can deliver a dedicated multi-player experience, but consoles, despite being far more dominant, have barely dipped their feet in the water. Hopefully some game will come along soon that changes all that. Because until then, fans of either type of play suffer because developers feels the need to include both.

Ok, that's all for today, I should be back tomorrow or Friday with something else, until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

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