Archive for January 2011


January 17, 2011

It’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve just had so many games to play and so little time to play them!  Also I was real sick for about a week there after Christmas and could barely get up to go to the bathroom, let alone write anything.  For those curious about the Christmas gaming haul, the list is as follows: Fable 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Rock Band 3 and Donkey Kong Country Returns.  Very impressive if you ask me, I am still very much a spoiled young child.

The only 3 games I can really give a firm comment on so far is Black Ops, Fable 3 and Rock Band 3.  Black Ops is everything I hoped it would be, and I’m doing much better in my online escapades than I every dared hoped for in Modern Warfare 2.  I’m definitely gonna devote more time to it when I get all the story driven games out of the way.  Fable 3 was fun up until the end.  What a horrible way to end the game.  The only good thing I can say about it is, at least it was over quick.  And for Rock Band 3 all I have to say is I am in love with the Pro Keys.  That is the best thing they could have done to the music game genre.

Now the main thing I wanted to write about in this post was something that I’ve seen a lot more ofter here recently, and that’s revisited environments in newer games that were featured in older games.  This trend is featured in 2 of the games I’ve been playing recently, Fable 3 and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.  It’s more prominent Brotherhood with the developers lifting the villa straight out of Assassin’s Creed 2 and aging it about 500 years.  It’s more subtle in Fable 3 with parts of Bowerstone Market and Millfields looking very much like areas in Fable 2 but are not exact replications.

This isn’t something that I thought I would like as much as I do.  Most gaming sequels are all about brand new environments, characters and items.  It’s all about keeping things new and shiny and I bought right into that like everyone else.  But there really is something to be said for having a common environmental thread throughout a story driven gaming franchise.  All of the Assassin’s Creed games feel less detached from one another and they each have areas that are common to consecutive games.  You have the Animus room in the Abstergo building featured in all of 1 and at the beginning of 2.  And then you have Ezio’s villa from 2 being the base of operations of Desmund in Brotherhood.  It’s a great and simple way to keep the worlds from feeling unrelated and being just another game sequel.

I’ve been having trouble coming up with other examples of this in the games I’ve played.  The most obvious one that comes to mind is 1-1 from Super Mario Bros..  It’s been featured in different ways in more games than I can remember, but with Mario not being much of a story driven franchise it starts to lose it’s meaning.  The only other really good example I could come up with is the Normandy from Mass Effect 2.  The layout was exactly like the 1st Normandy but it was close enough to make me and Shepard feel right at home in our new ship courtesy of Cerberus.  Another cool but quick one is the Temple of Time in Twilight Princess.  The location of the Temple isn’t the same as in the Ocarina of Time, but the first room and music are pretty spot on.  That is until you open a secret door and dive into an entire dungeon locked deep within the temple. I’ve heard tale of being able to revisit Liberty City in GTA: San Andreas but being that I never played that game I can’t say if that counts for sure.  And while I’ve never played any of them, I’m sure all of the episodic adventure games that Telltale has been putting out have shared an environment or 2.

With so many of today’s games being announced as trilogies, having cliffhanger endings or just have the forgone conclusion that they’ll have a sequel sometime in the future,  I think keeping an idea like this in mind is key.  I feel like every game’s attempt to make everything brand spanking new with each sequel, you can start to loose sight of the big picture that the series is trying to show.  Simple things like common areas can help game developers tell a more cohesive story from one game to the next and may even ease gamers into sequels that might have new mechanics or gameplay elements.