Why Current-Gen gaming has no soul.

Posted on September 14, 2011 by


This is something I’ve been coming to realise more and more in the past year. That the current generation of gaming (We’re in the seventh generation for those of you keeping count- video gaming is one of the few places one can actually count a regular generational shift) has no soul.

Now, don’t take me to mean that current-gen games are bad, most of them are no worse than the games we got last gen and the gen before that. Quite a lot of them of are considerably better. When I say the current gen has no soul, I’m talking about identity, in so far as that it has none. It spent it’s first few years wavering on the sea of tremulous ambiguity, before taking refuge in the cove of familiarity. You know what i’m talking about- the sixth generation was a time of great innovation and creativity. It gave us some of the best games in the history of gaming, like Shadow of the Colossus, Bully, Devil May Cry, Sly Cooper, Half Life, Fable, Knights of the Old Republic, Soul Caliber, Marvel vs. Capcom, Beyond Good and Evil, Timesplitters, Okami, Kingdom hearts, and it did a lot to revitalise flagging franchises too, with Metal Gear Solid 3, Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros Melee and Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The sixth generation was full of life, colour, humour and a sheer creativity that boggled the mind. The Fifth generation had settled gaming in the public eye at long last with the Playstation and the Nintendo 64 (Itself a great gen) and the sixth capitalised on that foothold to flood the market with everything and anything.

And there’s the problem. Previous generations were content to do their own thing. The current gen is desperately trying to do everyone else’s things. Perhaps most obvious with the current Playstation 3 advertising slogan- ‘It only does everything‘. And to be fair, it pretty much does, technologically (except let you use the otherOS feature, because screw you, that’s why). Nintendo have been the only innovators in this generation, ignoring the ‘better graphics= better games’ coda used by Microsoft and Sony in favour of a family friendly motion-control approach. This approach was universally lampooned by MS and Sony when it was unveiled and yet here we are today, both companies desperately trying to steal some of Nintendo’s market with their own motion control devices, to greater and lesser success- at least Kinect works and is genuinely a step forward in motion control tech, whereas Playstation Move actually is just a reverse engineered Wii.

It is worth pointing out that both of the ‘big’ consoles were involved in the early days of a format war- HDDVD and BLU Ray, with Sony’s BLU Ray format winning out due to being, well, better, in a strange inversion of the VHS/BETAMAX thing, where the inferior system won out. Due to backing from porn companies (Cocks Populi, vox dei). And while the PS3 was, for a long time, the cheapest way to get BLU Ray, it no longer holds that distinction.

The real issue I have is games, though. The games of this generation are, not to dance around the issue- brown. And grey. Essentially, they are not appealing colours. Video games now are trying to be realistic instead of fantastic. Take for example, the vibrant, colourful Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and compare it to the dull, boring, repetitive Grand Theft Auto 4. I know which one I’d rather spend an afternoon playing. And it’s not just the colours, it’s the genres. There was no real pervading genre of the Sixth Generation. You got a pretty even spread of everything. Not so much this gen. The vast majority of games on the shelves are muddy brown first person shooters, which all look and play the same. And when the games you’re playing aren’t FPS’s, they’re cash-in sequels or HD remakes of Sixth Generation games. Often very bad HD remakes. Games from the previous generation don’t NEED remakes or rereleases! Oh, except they do, because the companies remove backwards compatibility, so you can’t just play your PS2 games on your PS3 anymore, or only half of the games are backwards compatible in the first place. So you have to re-buy games you already own to keep playing them.

This is the generation of ‘follow the leader’, of brown FPS’s and cash-in rehashes. It has no soul of it’s own, and with Sony planning a new console release in 2013, it looks like the Seventh generation is going to come to end before anything can be done to change it.

Posted in: Comment, Games