Obscure Gamer – Sacred cows to the slaughter

Not everything in the gaming garden is coming up roses. There are some “classic” games that many players do not get on with. Maybe it’s time to stop applauding gaming as a medium when it still has so many flaws?

Take Wipeout. Many saw this as a key to the Playstation’s phenomenal success, the mixing of club/dance music and 3D graphics that previous machines would have struggled with. But is it really that good? I personally find the handling model difficult and rarely last more than a couple of races, before either becoming bored of the constant brake/shoot/collide gameplay, or get stuck at the back of the pack with little hope of catching up. Time to put another game into the slow-loading CD drive on the PS1 or Saturn. Even a high-definition remake for a newer console would not attract me, although gaming legend Jeff Minter did cite that as the one thing that could have made him dash out to buy a PS3 at launch.

The Capcom classic 1942 spawned a series of games and was highly popular in arcades. But have you sat down and played it recently? There are some fundamental flaws that make it less than perfect, and certainly call into question its classic status. Even on the first level, you will notice it. The random positioning of the attack waves means that planes can fly off-screen before you are able to shoot them, negating any chance of getting a 100% shot down rating and the commensurate bonus. The biggest flaw though has to be the decision to bring attack waves up from the bottom of the screen with no warning. A real gamebreaker if ever there was one.

The Gamescom 2010 event saw Sony finally pin down a launch date for the long-awaited Gran Turismo 5 – nearly 3 years after the PS3 was launched with a demo. But now that planned November launch date has been cancelled, with a vague promise of the “holiday season”. Is it worth the wait, and will it bring anything new to the table after so many years in development? The series as a whole deserves praise for its good-looking car models. But the opponent AI and the lack of car damage have always reduced its credibility as a racing game. Just adding layer after layer of detail does not make it play better, nor does obsessively sampling engine sounds. Forza has built its reputation and its gameplay over recent years to be a serious rival to GT’s crown as the best “realistic” racer, but sometimes I’d rather kick back and cause some carnage with Burnout.

Perhaps most controversial will be my view on Sonic. Sonic is bad from the start. The combination of high-speed movement and precise platforming is actually a bad idea. When I do play the original Megadrive games, I find myself getting to the same point time after time – where it switches from being all about speed to being about sequences of moves and slowing down to avoid gaps. Yes, it’s fun to see things move by at a blur. But not at the expense of feeling in control, and certainly not when it comes with the frustration of hitting the same obstacle repeatedly. Those hoping for a return to form with the episodic Sonic 4 will, I imagine, be ultimately disappointed with just more of the same and yet shy of trying something different – such as the Wii game Sonic Colours, which to my mind has more chance of being innovative.

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