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Complacency and Video Games

Are developers satisfied? Should they be?

By Troy Roberts     February 14, 2003


Is there something wrong with video games today? I mean, maybe not directly in a bad sense, but at times don't you feel that there is something missing from the game? Do you sometimes feel like you're getting shafted by a game because it feels like a clone of something else you've played? Hey, I do all the time so don't feel alone.


Last month I spoke with John Tobias, the co-kreator (couldn't resist) of MORTAL KOMBAT, and he told me that he believes that developers have become complacent with the way games are today and a lot of them don't feel the need to take the initiative in taking the next step to make something better. In other words, if something isn't broken, why change it? And it really got me to thinking - is this really the way the industry is becoming?


When you really think about it, there are tons of clones out there. There were tons of clones of DOOM after it came out, and just about every other first-person shooter since then has had at least one game that is almost exactly the same except in name. The same goes with fighting games. Since the days of STREET FIGHTER 2, MORTAL KOMBAT and VIRTUA FIGHTER, there hasn't been a great amount of progress in that genre. Yes, the graphics have been improved and Capcom seems to have mastered the 2 on 2 fighting style with it's CAPCOM VS. SNK series, but like Tobias told me, the genre just hasn't evolved as much as it should have.


And maybe that is why I have a sweet spot for his new project, TAO FENG for the Xbox. The game won't exactly revolutionize the fighting genre, but it is a start. For beginners the round system has been eliminated (since, in his words, that was "just a way to guarantee every couple of minutes someone was dropping money into the machine"). But also combat has become more limb-oriented, and you can damage a person's limbs now. You can also use your environment to help you fight your battle, by jumping off walls or swinging around polls.


Maybe that is the reason a game like STEEL BATALLION sparked so much interest. It was something new, and even if it did cost $200, the game did sell. So should companies begin attempting to take bigger steps in making games better? Who knows? If a developer tries to drastically change something, a lot of times that title may be rejected because it is not of the norm, no matter whether it is for the best or not. I guess what I'm trying to wrap this up with is to be open to new stuff even if it is against what your normal genre calls for. That game may be the spark of the revolution your favorite genre needs.


TIDBITS



Dave Mirra has filed a lawsuit against Acclaim for using his name with its newest BMX game, BMX XXX...INDIANA JONES AND THE EMPEROR'S TOMB has gone gold...signups for the beta of WARCRAFT III: THE FROZEN THRONE begins tomorrow, the 14th of February...Majesco announced BLACK9, a futuristic third-person action game...Koei has announced they it has signed JPop sensation Yoki Koyanagi to sing in DYNASTY WARRIORS 4...



ON SHELVES

TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL


Doesn't look like a ton is coming out next week, but PC fans rejoice: SPLINTER CELL is on the way.


Gamers' Thumb is our weekly Video Game column.

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