Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FutureWatch: The Games of Tomorrow, Today!

Oh dear me. Despite all my best intentions, I just haven't been able to keep up to date with the latest releases. Not because I can't afford them - though this certainly is a case in and of itself - but because, after the fantastic Portal 2, there hasn't been a lot coming out I'm remotely interested in. So the opportunity for a weekly scheduled game review just... didn't come up.

Well that's a slight lie. I have still been buying and playing games. It's just that there's none that I feel inclined to actually talk about. I have been playing Bad Company 2 recently, for instance, but there's not much I feel that needs to be said beyond "the multiplayer is pretty awesome". I could go back further, and review a game pre-2007, but that often comes off as petty and self-indulgent (though if ever words to describe this website existed, it would be those). So today, I'm going to spend some time talking about the three games I'm most anticipating for release in 2011. They may surprise you! ...but probably not, actually.

Duke Nukem Forever

The vapourware punchline of the past two decades is finally being released, for reals. I'll admit, at first, I was skeptical. I still kind of am. There's no way this game could live up to twelve years of hype and speculation. I gave no thought to this game - it's a relic, its time is past. It had its chance ten years ago and it missed it, several - nay, many - times. It was only recently that I have... come around. Been "converted," so to speak, to the Church of Duke.

Y'see, I'm a massive fan of humour - especially black, or self-referential humour - and it appears Duke Nukem Forever has perfected both to a tee. That piqued my interest - then the first look at some of the gameplay knocked me off my feet for a finishing blow. When announced, I thought the game would be something of a Serious Sam clone - a lot of running and gunning and jumping and quipping. And while those elements certainly appears to be present, it also looks like a modern-day mentality is running underneath the old-school mid-90s vibe. The set-pieces in this game are looking to crank the dial all the way up to eleven, in a way that would transcend the Serious Sam formula and become something truly special. I've, for a long time, not been a fan of the Duke - I was too young, or perhaps just too late, for Duke Nukem 3D - but I'm definitely starting to see why he's considered the King of first-person shooters. Colour me excited.


What can be said about Catherine? It looks like a hentai game. It's being marketed as "mature," and evidently plays out as some kind of psychological horror game crossed with a... dating sim. You might already know my opinion on Catherine if you've read my opinion piece on the subject of maturity and sexuality crossing paths, and what makes a sexually-charged game mature or not. It seems (from where I'm standing, anyway) Catherine is a truly adult-oriented, story-driven RPG, with the makings of a deep, interpersonal story of twisted lies, lust and hatred. It looks weird, seductive, and in some places, downright creepy - and it's the kind of mature title I'm longing for right now, when I'm being swamped by immature titty and cock humour in prepubscent-aimed first-person shooters.

Hmmm. To avoid sounding like a hypocrite in even the slightest capacity, I guess I should talk about how both Catherine and Duke Nukem Forever, despite being sexually-charged, are both doing it right. Here's how: one is doing it seriously, and the other is doing tongue-in-cheek, almost to the point of playing a parody of itself. Both are doing it right - the wrong way to do it is the Ridge Racer way, a pair of tits to get younger games interested, or the Bulletstorm way of making every second word "dick" or "tits" ("dicktits" excused). Sexuality done right is when it's explored as a legitimate subject, and while the line between using it as the foundation of your game's plot and as the source of character humour is a thin one, I think both games are doing well to keep to their respective sides, while still being respectful and "mature" in their own right. That's how I see it.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Did I tell you I love androids, dystopian cyberpunk aesthetics, and the future? Well, I do. So right now Deus Ex is essentially ticking all the right boxes for me. You play as an augmented android - tick. It's set in a cyberpunk, dystopian future - tick, tick. It probably helps it's the sequel to Deus Ex, a PC game that was pretty much the first (and, as far as I can tell, only) game to succesfully blend FPS and RPG elements in a truly free-form story that bent and branched depending on your choices to the extent that the game basically never played the same way twice. I mean, that doesn't change that you play as an augmented android, who has a moustache like Satan and a voice like a husky Keeanu Reeves - which, if plays half as well as I'm thinking it must, will act as the game's perpetual saving point if it at all sucks. I am a petty, petty human being.

On a larger scale, though? If Deus Ex: Human Revolution lives up to its promise as a true successor to the venerable original, it could quite possibly be the best science-fiction game of all time, especially considering the horsepower pumped into current-gen graphics rendering, sound design, and interactive storytelling techniques. If it doesn't, though, it could end up just being a really cool FPS with RPG-lite elements. Worst case scenario, among fans, it could also end up being Invisible War all over again. I can see a lot of people anticipating this thing, fans of the original, getting pissed off if Human Revolution doesn't live up to its lofty promises. But then again, fans are - and always will be - massive dicks, so it is probably best to ignore everything they say. Especially if they appear sincere. They're crafty bastards. I have to stress this, if a fan appears sincere in their opinion, they are absolute monsters. Portal is still fantastic, by the way.

Meta-humour used sparingly throughout this blog. There's a shortage. Gotta save it for the dry seasons. I mean, not really. I'm on a horse.

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