One benefit of this big life shift I’m still finding myself digging through; I’ve jumped into the deep end of the new console generation. Aside from the 3DS and a few select releases I could pick up on last gen’s consoles, I’ve been mostly ignoring the immediate past of video games, but I’ve had to adapt to life on the second floor by replacing my old, massive CRT TV with something I could actually lift up the stairs, and now that I had a tv that could accept the signal and enough credit card rewards to get a new console for virtually free, things just lined up. It was like God had decided that he’d been putting me through some rough times, so he’d toss me a PS4 and call it even.
For the first time in a good long while, I’ve actually been looking at the games that’ve been coming out. Playing newly released games. I’m in the now of videogames. Well, at least as far as Fallout 4 reaches. Aside from that, don’t have much of a collection. Anyways, I’m paying attention to new releases for the first time, and I’ve not really been finding what I expected. I’ve been through a few generation handovers in my day. I remember, how the games are, I remember the wonder and adjustment of actually being able to do new things in your games. Sure, every console has made better looking games, and that’s been the big selling point, but visuals only take you so far. Where the new console generations have truly excelled is by offering the power to create new types of games, new gaming experiences.
And they’ve all had games ready within the first couple months to really highlight that. The 32/64 bit era had Mario 64 lead the charge by making the third dimension work, and work fluidly, for the first time in a long while, followed by Final Fantasy 7 demonstrate the cinematic and storytelling potential newly available to the medium. The PlayCubeBox era had a couple of games you could point to for this, but for me, it was Pikmin, which showcased the console’s ability to compute numerous actors in a wide area, keeping the span and amount of moving parts in its RAM going in a way that was not even thought of in the last generation. Last gen brought us both the Wii, with Rayman Raving Rabids and WarioWare: Smooth Moves bringing to light all the potential uses of the Wiimote, and the PS360, where the Xbox’s Dead Rising demonstrated the new generation’s power in being able to process and compute so many independent parts of a game in much the same way Pikmin did a generation ago.
For this generation, even after two years, I’m not sure what games we have to lean on, that truly demonstrates the new consoles’ capabilities over the old. WiiU aside. There’s plenty I’ve seen that takes advantage of the WiiU’s capabilities, to the point that I was rather torn as to which console to pick up. There’s a lot of games to show the new levels of detail available with the PS4 and Xbox One, which is nothing short of impressive, but as I said, visuals only go so far in creating an experience. I haven’t seen a lot of the new generation’s games yet, and there’s still plenty for me to consider before making any sort of judgement, but still, I find myself wondering if we truly needed a new console generation. Visuals aside, have the new machines really expanded the tools available for developers, or could these games just as easily have ended up on last gen’s consoles?