Toby reads the entrails of video games and searches for the future of his favourite genre.
By Toby McCasker on May 7, 2014 at 4:12 pm
The other day, someone – I forget who, some kind of games person with high scores all up in hair – was saying something to the effect of, “Shooters are gonna be like the 2D platformers of the ‘90s.” It’s hard to imagine now, but those were massive then. It was all you could see on the gaming horizon. Mario and Sonic gave us such follow-along luminaries as Bubsy the Bobcat, Cool Spot, Boogerman (rad), Global Gladiators (ack), Jazz Jackrabbit, and even Zool. Remember Zool? Probs not. Will we be saying the same in a decade when some plucky young upstart who still thinks life is OK goes, “Remember CoD?”
If we’re being specific about CoD, I hope so. But if we’re being broad and talking about FPS games, I hope not. I like them! So do a lot of good sociopaths. They’re all you can see on the gaming hori- wait a minute. Déjà vu of a kind. In truth, I thought this bubble would burst ages ago. FPS games felt like they were tying onions to their belts circa Crysis 2 not being that good. Everything was brown and we’d done it all before, a similar vibe as felt during Mario’s umpteenth re-release (with a new hat). If nostalgia was not a thing, Nintendo would be in the pachinko business.
So why hasn’t it happened yet? We’re still shooting all the thingies in exactly the same fashion, more or less, that we have been since Wolfenstein (although Wolfenstein’s umpteenth new-hat re-release is liable to be sheer pachinko again, weirdly). We’re also, by the looks of many a packed-out server, still totally into it. It’s true that only a minority prefer novelty over nostalj, but this still doesn’t seem right.
And then you remember that maybe the only reason 2D platformers – I loved those too, not even apologetic at all – went out of fashion is because gaming tech bumped up to the point where it could offer the next level of experience, that being the same level we’ve been on since we reached it. It’s like level 3 of Battletoads on the NES. Screw that level, hey. Imagine yourself sitting around in your cool grunge with your Nirvana tee playing radical jumping games and trying to envision where it could go. “Seeing through my own eyes and doing stuff,” never occurred to me personally, but it happened.
So for FPS games as we know them to officially phase out, the next level of that needs to come about. Here I am in my cool mathcore with my Dillinger Escape Plan tee playing sick shooting games and trying to envision where they could go. For so long, it has felt impossible to transcend this miracle of immersion, one screen removed as it is. That’s why I think peeps are really so excited about things like Oculus Rift. Then we can combine everything that’s defined the ages together as one and play MF’ing Jumping Flash the way that digital nature did not intend to happen at all.