There are two things in this world that tickle my dirty loins and get the sweaty juices flowing like little else on the Earth. Films is one. Games be the other. The reason I mention the films thing in this ‘gaming-only’ zone that is The Mighty G-Blog, is that there’s a curious paradox that has becometh between the two; very curious indeed. There are oodles of similarities between the two mediums which I shan’t go into here (oodles of differences too of course), but as they both sit atop the list of my ‘preferred things’ in this life there is one notable oddity which exists – or rather, has been created – by my lumpy old brain, and which one cannot apply any known forms of reason or logic to.
Anticipation, and the way my head manages it.
Both mediums have the capacity to easily give the ole oblongata a stiffy, but with film I have – through years and years of painful education at the school of Bitter Disappointment (featuring such classes as ‘trailers can make anything look good’, ‘watching a remake is almost never a good idea’ and ‘Star Wars – Episode 1: The Phantom Menace’) – learned that there are so many variables, so many marketing tricks, so much that can go wrong (and so easily) in film, that I can usually overcome those initial, primal pangs of giddy excitement when I hear of a project in the works or coming soon, fairly easily. Although the road was a long and difficult one, you are more likely to hear me use phrases like “has potential” and “looks interesting”, and other such grown up things when looking at films on the ‘coming soon’ roster.
‘Games’ however is a different bucket of clams altogether. When it comes to future games on my radar I still not only get the ridiculously optimistic buzz, like a kid with ADHD waiting for Christmas morning, but it doesn’t go away; it lingers. It hangs around like the sickly sweet aftertaste you get from drinking too much coke. I know it’s wrong, I know it’s not good for me, I know it will invariably lead to the familiar taste of bitter disappointment and at best simply not live up to the overhype I’ve created in the flappy meat-box I call my head. It’s not like I’m new to gaming, it’s not like I haven’t been stung – oh so painfully stung – by this time and time before (more to follow on that…). You’d think the bits of my brain that deal with anticipation and logic would be tickled in the same way by the expectation of both films AND games, but clearly there is some alternate path that the ‘games’ bit journeys on throughout the squishy pink shit behind my face and somehow gets lost on the way and ends up in the “wow look a shiny thing” section. This anomaly can only be explained by my messed up brain head not making thinking happen proper.
Let’s take Brink for example – let’s just take a fucking minute here everyone, and have a good, hard think about that, shall we? I know it’s not easy, and I know it’s not pleasant, but Jesus on the fucking cross if we don’t confront this shit it’s just going to eat away at us.
Brink. Developed by Splash Damage, published by Bethesda. It hit the shelves in August 2011. 12 months or more I’d been lusting over it like some dirty, middle-aged peeping tom fiddling with his junk in the back row at London fashion week. I’ll never forget the build up. The initial teaser trailer which started on the macro shot of that eye, then the slow zoom out that followed. Outstanding graphics and animation. 2 factions. 4-player co-op. FPS mayhem. The customisation; skins, weapons, masks, kit. Jesus I’m starting to get a semi just reliving these memories for fucks sake. The free-running element, that un-fucking-believably good cinematic trailer which went from one character to another as they sniped and shot and mowed down and hacked and grenade each other in a bullet ballet of free running, gunning, blood splattering cacophonic mayhem.
Then it came out. And we played it. And it was a Greek fucking tragedy. It was basically Team Fortress just with more punk. And let’s be brutally honest here shall we peeps, if I wanted to play a really decent Team Fortress style game I’d play Team fucking Fortress wouldn’t I. What a fucking shit shame. And lo, the unwelcome and ungodly feeling of disappointment poured over me like a bucket of warm cum.
Brink is still a word met with a painful silence in the gaming circles I inhabit. So as the Slaughtered Lamb fell as silent as the Yorkshire moors at the mention of a pentangle, so my Clan and I fix a thousand-yard stare at the mention of Bethesda’s greatest tragedy. Regret. Pain. Disappointment.
This is true also of Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Oh the potential. Such awe inspiring potential. The gun-customisation was a wet-dream for gun-nuts such as myself. The kit and the tech. It’s a tactical shooter. We followed its development even when for sooo long it was announced it wouldn’t even have a PC release. But we kept the faith. God how I wish we didn’t. They clearly just waved a magic wand and cast a cheap little ‘console-porting’ spell on it, stuck it on a DVD or 2 and shipped it out. Disappointment. Again. From Ubisoft. Again.
[Dead Island is nothing like this ^]
Dead Island. Techland’s survive-a-zombie-infested-island, 4-player co-op published by Deep Silver. Now who remembers THAT trailer? One of the all-time great gaming trailers. And what did we get? We got heavy on detail, low on gameplay. Boring, easy, lame. The trailer was a lie; a marketing ploy. It represented neither the atmosphere nor the ‘survival’ feel of the game (and by that I mean the actual game had neither). Disappointment.
And then there was Aliens: Colonial Marines. Where the fuck do you start with that? I followed that game, and I do mean closely, for 3 years. Some poor fucks out there paid the whole 6 year ticket. It was the perfect set up, perfect. Colonial Marines, y’know, from Aliens. 4-player co-op. Xenomorphs. Like in the FILM!! Gearbox Software. GEARBOX people! The legendary developers that brought us Borderlands! This couldn’t fail, it was simply too easy to get right. It was a sure thing. It couldn’t fail! Shows what I know. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a disaster, but it was just ‘alright’. 6 years in development, 3 years of scraping the internet and the forums for tiny morsels, any hint that it hadn’t been canned. Developed by Gearbox software. ‘Alright’ just doesn’t cut it. I still blame Sega for that clusterfuck rather than Gearbox, but hey, that’s just me. Disappointment.
The list goes on. Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (Tethering…WTF!?), Duke Nukem Forever, Arma II, Fall of Cybertron….etc etc. Disappointment, disappointment, disappointment.
Of course, there is the opposite too. The games that you hoped would be good but were actually absolutely Earth shatteringly brilliant. Payday, Left 4 Dead, Crysis 3, Sniper Elite, Max Payne 3. Then there’s your very, very rare beasts; the ones that you were so excited about and so hyped that they could only fail – but didn’t. Bioshock Infinite springs to mind. These last two lists are all too small though. Such is the way of both game and film, it probably won’t be as good as you think. But I suppose that’s OK if your brain works properly, and can manage the expectation. Like mine does with film. Not like mine does with game.
Maybe it is all down to Star Wars: Episode 1. Maybe that is the kind of life-altering blow of hyper-disappointment that forced the film-side of my brain into taking a step back – “I will never be hurt like that again”, sort of like some bitter defense mechanism. Maybe I should stick to the Safe bets; the games you know won’t be absolutely groundbreaking but will fill a gap and be decent enough and hey, maybe even surprise you a bit. Things like your (modern) Resident Evil’s and Dead Space (usually console games) and the like.
So what does the future hold? Take Down: Red Sabre, Shadow Warrior, Thief, Titanfall, Metro: Last Light (still not played), and further on Wolfenstein, The Dead Linger, Elite, Dying Light, Hellraid, shit even the Steam Machines……to name but a few hopefuls. I’m sure there’ll be some disappointments in there. But hopefully some class acts as well.
The question is, will my brain learn? Can I force it to? Or will I be destined to have disappointment in gaming as a haunting mistress for the rest of my days.