Saturday, October 22, 2005

Next Gen killed the Current Gen Star

I won't lie to you, despite my outmost respect for ICO, that game never really got to me. I know that it was supposed to be this awesomely arty yet playable game with deeply touching scenes and views, but I never really felt it.

Do I defend ICO in an argument? Yes I do. Do I even challenge those who claim they saw no magic in there? Most certainly, oddly enough, I point out everything I read about it that seemed to make sense. But how come I wasn't touched by it? How come I didn't feel all those things a game like that is supposed to make me feel?

Well, you see, I played it fairly late, specifically a while after the Xbox and Gamecube were both released, both sporting anti aliasing and sharp textures and vivid colours in pretty much all of their games. In contrast, ICO looked disappointingly jaggy, washed out and blurred. I could tell that there was a creative vision behind it but to me it was like a really great, well framed photo that suffered from over exposure and terrible JPG compression.

Ironically I'm in sort of the same position now with the next game from the ICO team; Shadow of The Colossus. I've watched so many high res videos of 360 games I don't know if SoTC has what it takes to move me with its visuals. I certainly hope it does, I suspect it will because the idea is less about image fidelity and more about scale, and I'll give it a big honest shot. What if it doesn't though?

I think art should be timeless, and I think we're probably moving towards times when games will look good forever. We've already been there once with the SNES (tell me Super Mario World looks bad today and I'll slap you until you die) and I think we'll be there again soon. I think some companies have an easier time with creating visuals that stand the test of time, and I believe some hardware is better suited for it. I think it's sad though that I'll never be able to show Panzer Dragoon Saga to someone and have them actually GET what's so good about it. I don't think PDS will ever move anyone again, and yet it's one of my most emotional gaming experiences. It's scary and it sometimes makes me want to live in the backwaters of the cutting edge graphics just to make sure I'm not missing something. At the same time I want to sit in the front so I can be blown away by new things as they come along and be swept up with the surrounding buzz of anticipation along with other gamers.

Stunning. You can't really tell what's going on in this pic though.

If I'd been in the same position in the Saturn days as I am now (multiformat gamer) I would've had a PSX and its superior 3D capabilities would've had me looking at PDS going "huh." It's frightening to think about.

I don't know a cure for me, and I don't know a cure for you if you're having similar problems. It's certainly something to consider though, that the pursuit of the latest greatest graphics may well cause you to miss some of the best gaming experiences of your life.

Azel, I will love you forever.