Today I am going to get Homeworld 2 in the mail, which makes me more excited than it probably has right to - the demo left me downright frothing in anticipation. Along with Homeworld 2 I am also getting Dark Forces 4: Jedi Knight 3: Jedi Outcast 2: Jedi Boogaloo which will hopefully be the new Thursday night favorite around here. In fact, I'm getting so much gaming goodness today I spent all weekend making sure I finished Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne before my games arrived.
All this feels particularly good as I just came off several bad experiences with Lionheart and Ico. Lionheart has several problems which destroyed what passing interest in the RPG genre I have and Ico, well, Ico just sucked. I know my opinion is in the minority on this but it just felt like Myst with a language barrier. I spent several hours with the game before I realized I didn't give a sh*t if these kids ever got out of this prison, screw em. I still haven't worked up the courage to try that Pikmin I rented.
Then that nagging voice in the back of my head spoke up Ã‚"Turn in your hardcore gamer badge before anybody gets hurtÃ‚".Whats that you say? Surely you aren't implying that Homeworld 2 and Jedi Academy aren't hardcore gamer material. They're as hardcore gamer as Half-Life 2 and Doom 3!
Ã‚"Will you just stop and listen to yourself? You are turning down original games to play sequels. You are the reason every game is a sequel and developers are afraid to innovate, when an original game comes along you bitch about the stupid horns on the kids head!Ã‚"
His horns were stupid, was he some sort of yak boy? A magic yak boy that floated down from the heavens to lead women around by the hand and yell at them all day? It's like a redneck viking.
Deep down I'm afraid he's right though, what have I become? The Homeworld 2 demo felt just like Homeworld with a better interface. Oh yeah, it had better graphics too. Suddenly I want to compare polygon counts and bump mapping Ã‚– I feel very, very dirty.
A shining ray of hope emerges, however, as Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne was original in several ways. Some of the new units broke from the standard Blizzard mold. The bonus campaign had a very interesting hub system, and several of the single player maps were very interesting. The last map was a domination type map, where you struggle to control 4 obelisks. One map had you leading your hero through traps and timing puzzles. Another had you attacking while the units were asleep, posessing units to bolster your own. It had several missions that were different than the usual Ã‚"kill the other guyÃ‚" scenarios.
Ã‚"Okay, so it's slightly less mundane.Ã‚" the voice says. Ã‚"It's still Warcraft 3. It's not like it redefines what it means to be an RTS game. Half-Life, that was original. So original that most FPS games have been trying to copy the storytelling aspects of it ever since. Few have succeeded. Thats a game that everyone talks about for years after it comes out, because it's original.Ã‚"
Another voice chimes in with his opinion, Ã‚"It'd be great to set something on fireÃ‚"
Quiet you, if we listened to you we'd be knee deep in dead hookers with only a stack of VHS tapes to show for it. Ebay won't let us sell those anymore.
But the first voice has a point, Half-Life definitely was original. People still talk about it to this day. At the time the single player just blew everyone away. It beat the pants off of every game at the time, Sin, Shogo, Quake II, Hexen II ... hmm. Without all of those unoriginal games, how would we know that Half-Life was original? Without playing through the legion of FPS games that followed in Doom's wake how would we appreciate the ingenuity of Half-Life's storytelling? How many Ã‚"find the blue keyÃ‚" maps did we play through to get to Half-Life?
Even more important, didn't I enjoy some of those games? I can't speak for every game that came out before Half-Life but I'm relatively sure I enjoyed several of them. Isn't that what counts anyway, the fun? Warcraft 3 may not have featured radically different gameplay mechanics but it did feature some. More importantly, it was damn fun. Without the Warcraft games to set the benchmark how could I have appreciated the hot powdered sex that was Myth: The Fallen Lords? Without these less original games there would be no perspective, nothing to innovate from. Something has to set the standard, while something else has to break that standard.
You know what the standard for single player FPS games is now? Half-Life. It may have been a breakthrough FPS title but if it came out now it would be a great game, nothing more. It's a cycle. You redefine the genres then you refine them. You can't have one without the other.
So I put away the nagging voice in my head one more time, I'm still hardcore, really. Actually I could care less, I'm having fun. I sit back in my comfy worn recliner and pop Sixteen Stone into the CD player one more time. I'm not in the mood for original right now, I just wanna find one more blue key.