Opinion// Next Gen Consoles - Same Old/Same Old?

Posted 4 Oct 2013 12:30 by
Unless you’ve been living in a cave you’ll have read that Microsoft and Sony will be releasing new consoles in... ooh, I’m going to say ‘in time for the holiday season’.

If you have been living in a cave then hello, neighbour! I’ve also been living in a cave, and it’s taken so long to clean the bat guano out of the grotto and give the stalactites a good polish that I’ve only just discovered what the next generation has in store for us.

Oh dear.

Far be it from me to rain on your chips and pee in your parade. This is a gaming site, a place where people go for news on fun things which will make them happy. Away with you, cynicism! Hasta la vista, snarkiness! The gaming community is one giant pile of lovely; we’re all puppies roly-polying in toilet paper and never, ever complaining about things.

That having been said, let’s hear it for the Xbox One!

Due for release on November the 22nd, the XBOne or ‘Crossbone’ is a black plastic box that will sit somewhere in the vicinity of your telly. It comes packaged with a camera, which is good isn’t it? And the camera looks sort of like Deep Thought, the computer from the movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which everyone thought was a big expensive waste of time that should never have been made in the first place.

Games for XBOne include the new one from the people who used to make Call of Duty before being chucked out of their office.

It features giant robots, jet packs and running on walls, and has been described as “Better than Call of Duty” for the reasons I just listed.

Another Xbox game is Ryse, a Roman sword-’em-up which was probably pitched as Dance Dance Revolution meets God of War. As Dick Van Dyk once sang, “It’s the Caesar, stab in time!”

Entering the console arena a week later is Sony’s PlayStation 4, which will support many of the same games as the XBone, play the same movies, let you chat with the same friends but will cost you £80 less to do so.

I mean, it doesn’t come with a camera. What are you going to do? Play games that don’t require Kinect to watch your every waking move? Who do you think you are: Ned Stark?

A black box that sits somewhere in the vicinity of your telly, games for the PS4 include inFamous: Second Son for anyone who liked the other games in the series, and DriveClub, an exciting game about driving a car.

Also coming to both consoles are INDIE GAMES. INDIE GAMES are the saviour of the games industry. They cost comparatively sod all to make and can be bought for pennies from the Steam Sale.

And now they’re coming to consoles! Look forward to lots of mega-difficult psychedelic platform games brimming with references to Internet memes, all of which will totally justify your £400 console purchase. I Can Haz CheeseLOL? You bet your sweet Aunt Neddy you can.

Here’s the thing. Its difficult getting excited about the new consoles when the brightest hope in gaming is happening elsewhere.

Neither Sony nor Microsoft--nor Nintendo, for that matter--has mentioned anything in their press statements about compatibility with the Oculus Rift VR headset. When Oculus VR states its device is ‘the next generation’, or that current testers get to ‘be a part of history’, I believe them. Why?

Because of the reaction videos. Because of all those people on YouTube who are utterly immersed in the crude tech demos packaged with their development kits.

Because of the communities of developers wringing new(!) experiences from Kickstarted technology that wouldn’t otherwise exist, because the megaconglomerations feeding us yearly FIFA, CoD, Need For Speed et al would never have gambled on something as risky as a hat the weight of a sofa that makes you look like a twonk.

I mean, Nintendo might have done it, if it weren’t so busy remaking Animal Crossing.

But it didn’t. Instead, we’ve reached a point in gaming where, to wrestle the market from tablets and smartphones, our leading lights, our strongest, see fit to foist upon us games in which you shoot and drive and shoot and drive and do you want to know how many polygons it takes to render each bullet, or how many real world sponsors we have allowing us to use their real world cars in our ultra realistic flipping driving game?

It’s the same damned thing we hear every time new consoles arrive, and generation next bleeds into generation last.

It’s not a bad thing, per se, and as the inexorable ticking of the doom clock moves us all towards armageddon we can without shadow of a doubt say that gaming is improving, yes. Not at the pace we might hope for, not in all the directions we could wish, but things are getting better.

Aren’t they?

XBOne and PS4 will be released this holiday season.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

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