Friday, August 25

The (Near) Future of Gaming

As we come into the 'Ber' months of the year, we're inching closer to the pivotal holiday season. On top of many a gamer's mind is the much-delayed Playstation 3, the Death Star of console gaming platforms. Yes, after all this time expectations have been somewhat lowered- Games won't look as great as the initial CG ads and demos first made them out to be; The next Tekken won't have photorealistic fighters or even anywhere near the graphic quality of the 'sweaty Jin Kazama' vid shown months and months ago. From all indications, PS3 games will at least look as good as Xbox360 games, if not slightly better, depending on the programmers and the individial games themselves.

In terms of fighting games, the PS3 has at least a couple of exclusive titles that beat 'em up fans would give their eye-teeth for. First, of course, is Tekken 6, which will at the very least still retain the cast of pugilists from the last couple of games (Tekken 5 and the Dark Resurrection upgrades). I predict pretty much the same animations but with upgraded graphics and the occasional new attack or move, coupled with hopefully a Character Creation Mode (borrowed from Soul Calibur) instead of the usual Customization options avalable from before. Of course, CG movies aplenty will tell the continuing story of the Iron Fist tournament, though in-game cutscenes will probably look almost as good.
The other big gun in the PS3's fighting library is Virtua Fighter 5. Virtua Fighter is the creme dela creme of fighters, pretty much the pinnacle of technique, timing and expert gameplay. The arcade version is already out in Japan and videos of fights are regularly on display online. The fighting is fluid, fast and awesome to see, with the VF crew looking better than they ever had before. Aside from the ultra-crisp graphics and animation, there are tons of options to customize your characters in terms of items, hair styles and clothes. I have as yet to see a bikini on any of the girls (I can dream, can't I?) but what is so far available is impressive. Hopefully the PS3 version will come with tons more options for customizing... the game is still a ways off, with a TBA 2007 release.

Aside from fighting, other big titles destined for PS3 that are worth salivating for include Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Put in control of a rapidly-aging Solid Snake (or OLD Snake, as he is now called), players must take on the forces of Liquid Ocelot (the former Revolver Ocelot now possessed by the grafted arm of the deceased Liquid Snake), who is attempting a worldwide coup de'tat. On Snake's side are the regular crew of suspects, with new looks and attitudes looks like- a spunkier, more formidable Meryl Silverburgh, an older Colonel Campbell, a more booky Otacon and a more bedraggled Naomi. Even the former girly-boy Raiden is back, now coated with a shiny new cyborg body and MAD killing skillz. Snake will need all the help he can get with armies of elite soldiers and herds of creepy moo-ing Metal Gears being lined up against him. Rumored to be Snake's last adventure, the story of this incredible-looking title is worth the price of admission alone.
Assassin's Creed is another intriguing title for the PS3. Set in what appears to be Crusades-era Jerusalem, players are put in control of Altair, a professional assassin working behind the scenes to influence the events in the carnage-filled time. The game touts groundbreaking A.I. for bystanders and never-before-seen interactivity between the player character and the environment. So missions will have to planned out carefully- from the lighting-fast kill to the prolonged escape from pursuing guards, one wrong move could spell capture and death... or worse. Prince of Persia meets Splinter Cell? Good stuff.

The present platforms also have cool games coming up. The Xbox360 of course has Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, which basically has sexier DOA babes doing even more sexy and cute stuff on an all-new island paradise. Not only volleyball but jetskiing is now on offer, plus a load of minigames, titillating sequences and... tan lines.

The PS2 and Xbox will be receiving perhaps the last great MK before the next generation... Mortal Kombat Armageddon brings together pretty much every fighter who has ever appeared in an MK game, all set for a final showdown that will probably set what the next MK generation will look like. There will be blood- oh yes, there will be blood. Characters will die, but at least players will now be able to Kreate their own Kharacters in what may be the deepest and best Character Creation mode apart from wrestling games. Aside from looks and clothing, you will be able to create your character's move set, fighting style and fatality. Literally millions of possibilities for the ultimate bad-ass will be at your disposal, so this may be a reason to hold onto those PS2s and old Xboxes even when the next gen becomes now-gen.

Darn. Lots of stuff to play with, and so little cash. And time. Gamers however will have a grand time working out how to fit it all in. Heh.

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