With the impending launches of the next generation of consoles (Playstation 4 on November 15th and Xbox One on November 22nd), I thought it would be good to look back at the last console generation. Like anything else, the gaming industry evolves and changes, mostly for the better. The last generation of consoles has been the longest we’ve had, lasting 8 years. The Xbox 360 released in 2005, heralding the age of high definition (HD) gaming. A year later the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii followed. While the Wii was arguably in a different arena than the PS3 and X360, all three consoles still influenced each other. As the generation continued, many different trends emerged, influencing the current state of gaming. As with any iterative process, there were some growing pains.
I’ve compiled a list (broken into three parts) of what I think best exemplifies the last generation, for better or worse. I’m not saying these are the best games of the generation or console, just ones that are the best examples for the changes and fades we’ve seen over the last round of consoles.
Annual Gaming – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (X360/PS3)
Releasing sequel upon sequel is nothing new for gaming (see everything Nintendo). This generation though has seen a rise in AAA publishers releasing entries to their blockbuster series (not named Madden) on an annual basis. There’s no better example for this than Call of Duty. Activision owns early November. While a few other companies are following suit, most notably Ubisoft with Assassin’s Creed, this trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Every CoD release brings with it record breaking sales numbers. Few publishers save for Ubisoft and EA can keep up with such a tight development cycle, but they’re certainly trying.
Open World Gaming – Grand Theft Auto IV / Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (X360/PS3)
The go anywhere, do anything game type was introduced with Grand Theft Auto III way back on the PS2. With this generation, we’ve seen the experience cranked up to 11, and in HD. While there were many games over the years that each brought their own take to the genre, this generation easily had the most that nailed the concept. Oblivion, Fallout, Saints Row, even Crackdown; each brought something different to the table, becoming must plays for fans. None better show the epitome of open worlds than GTA IV and Skyrim, but for different reasons. Skyrim (technical hiccups aside), represents the pinnacle of the genre. GTA IV however, proves that less is more. Bursting with content, there were too many smaller aspects of the game that ultimately hindered the experience.
HD Collections – God of War Collection (PS3)
Backwards compatibility saw it’s way out early in the console’s lives. However, publishers soon realized there was a quick dollar to be made by upscaling games from the previous generation and releasing them as a collection. The first game to do this was God of War. With the third entry in the series soon to be released, Sony released the first two on a single disc. Other publishers quickly jumped on the bandwagon releasing collections of their own, though the bulk came from Sony, or released on PS3 due to the superior blu-ray disc size. The quality ranged from middling (Jak and Dexter Collection on PS Vita), to you-better-own-this (Metal Gear Legacy).
Motion Controls – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Motion controls, a bane for many gamers. Nintendo unleashed this blight upon the world. In typical Nintendo fashion, they eventually released games showing how to best use the technology. Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 are prefect examples, but not better than Skyward Sword (still have goosebumps from the final battle). Motion controls was something many developers didn’t understand. A few eventually learned (Resident Evil 4, Red Steel 2), but Nintendo, with Skyward Sword, showed exactly how it was done. Unfortunately, it didn’t come until near the end of the consoles life. Leaving us with…
Shovelware – Anubis II (Wii)
Beyond a few great titles, Wii will be remembered for the incredibly amount of garbage available on the system. Budget priced games with broken controls littered store shelves. Why would grandma purchase a $50 Mario game when she can get a $10 game featuring Rudolph. The worst offender was Anubis II, particularly because there was no Anubis I. They were just trying to capitalize on people’s likelihood of purchasing a sequel. What makes it worse is that people actually bought these games.
Look for part 2 tomorrow!
What do you think so far? Comment below!
Most research I’ve done for an article.