This may sound rather stupid but I think I am evolving as a gamer.
By that I mean, well, I seem to be going through a period of change with my gaming. I am still the completionist I have always been, I still have a keen interest in racing games and despite having access to Xbox Live and a whole bunch of friends, I am still generally a lone gamer. Yet this year during the typical rush of games that are all trying to release before the holiday period, I have come to the realisation that something is different. Now what that exactly is, I couldn't tell you but with every day that passes I find that I am noticing the change more and more and personally, I am finding it both intriguing and fascinating.
Take the recently released Fable II for example. Here is a sequel to a game I never had the chance to play yet as it came close to release I found myself interested in it more and more. It got to the point where I was thinking to myself that I would get it and give it a try but not straight away and after I had gotten the games I was anticipating first. The week of its release I saw it lying on the shelf of my local games store and before I knew it, I had purchased it, brought it home and had put it into my 360's disc drive ready to play. I don't know why I ended up buying it that day but after playing it that night, I was glad I did and do not regret a thing. I have barely played the game since that night, though. Why? Well no reason other than I thought it would be best to save the experience until a time when I can appreciate it more, so instead I continued to focus on the games I was playing beforehand in order to try and get them finished. That is irrelevant though; The short time I have had with the game has already impressed me and I am finding it very hard to resist firing it up each night. Of course it doesn't help when I see my friends playing it, but even so the allure of the game is compelling and again I find that fascinating. I plan on going more in-depth with my thoughts on the game in the near future when I play it more and can summarise my thoughts and impressions a little better, but in the meantime I want to point out that I think part of the reason why Fable II is alluring to me at the moment is because of how the gaming community at large has discussed the game. Reading this discussion (especially the blog posts) is, I think, presenting the game to me as an experience and when I combine that with the short time I have played, I think it is actually an experience rather than just another game. There are so many different aspects of the game being discussed and each one can inspire its own in-depth conversation from the community.
Another thing I have found interesting lately is that games I wasn't really interested in, or was not planning on looking at until a later date have now found their way onto my radar. Fable II was one of these games and another is Mirror's Edge. While I appreciated what EA/Dice were doing with the game and also the fact that it was rather original, I didn't really care for it because of a few reasons: one being that the game could go either way (success or failure), another being that it just didn't seem like it should be a priority of mine at the current time. Playing the demo earlier this week however completely changed my perception of the game and as I said, it is now on my radar and I am hoping to be able to pick it up on release. Now obviously demos are meant to be a taste of a game to give you an idea of whether you will like it or not, but the experience of playing this demo was different to how I come away from playing other demos and it did surprise me. Again I can't really pinpoint why (seems to be becoming a regular occurrence these days...) but the surprise meant that I find it intriguing.
Another EA game has also changed my perception of it recently and I think it is in part because of the gaming community. That game? Dead Space. Again while I appreciated that it was a new IP and that it was a Sci-Fi Horror game (I love my Sci-Fi), it never really seemed to be interesting until very recently when it released. First thing I noticed about it was that it seems to have a BioShock vibe about it. By that I mean atmospheric and isolated, yet almost an experience that could feel real. The other things I noticed come more from what people within the gaming community have been saying than anything but even so it is a game that went from a possible future purchase to a game that I want now.
To take this in a different direction, this Friday sees the release of Gears of War 2. That alone makes the day a good day and myself excited, but, thanks to quite a wonderful birthday I have found myself in a position to buy not one game, not two games and not even three. I am able to buy FOUR games on Friday and honestly, I can't believe it. While I am lucky enough to get the majority of games I want within a year, I don't generally get them at or near release and I definitely do not get more than one game at a time when I make a purchase. Fable is an example of that despite it being an unexpected purchase. Yet come Friday I find myself lucky enough to get four games and I almost feel guilty about it. If I weren't getting these games, I could get a Wii! Or, I could save it and get something not gaming related instead. It is definitely an interesting position to be in personally and like everything else I have mentioned so far in this post, it intrigues me. For the record the games I am getting are Gears of War 2 as I said, Fallout 3 (like Fable, another sequel to a game(s) that I haven't played) and probably Dead Space and Midnight Club LA.
The last thing I have noticed that seems to be changing and is again, intriguing me is how I feel about RPGs. Playing through Eternal Sonata recently, a Japanese RPG, has been quite a mixed bag of feelings for me. During the first playthrough of the game I found myself really enjoying it and as an overall game it was worth playing, but during the second playthrough I have honestly found it to be a chore. I don't HAVE to play through it this second time but I am because of the completionist trait of my gaming. The reason it has been a chore though is what is quite common with RPGs and that is the grind. This entire second playthrough has basically been a grind as I am skipping the cutscenes (on a side note: thank god you can - all games should have this option). That means all I am really doing is walking either to the next battle or to the next location. As it is a 'New Game +' the enemies are stronger this time around which means even more grinding to make sure I am strong enough to take them on and yeah it has not been fun at all. Because of this grind and how hard it has been to motivate myself to continue with it, I have found myself reflecting on Japanese RPGs in general and how I feel about them. In the past I could play them over and over again with no problem, my multiple playthroughs of Final Fantasy VIII in particular can attest to that, but as I have grown older my patience for these games seems to have decreased as I realise that I haven't played more recent JRPGs as much as I did the older ones and that some games were hard to even finish the first time let alone multiple playthroughs.
Now it could be a case of these games just not having a compelling enough story and therefore reason to continue playing, or it could be a case of myself going off (for lack of a better term) these games in favour of other experiences. I love a good story and RPGs provide them in the bucket loads but it just seems like I want to have these experiences elsewhere. Where? Perhaps ironically, in Western RPGs. The more I think about it the more I am realising that here I am re-assessing my interest in JRPGs while also absolutely loving the Western RPG experiences I have had. I haven't played many WRPGs but the recent ones I have like the aforementioned Fable II (although small) and Mass Effect have absolutely been brilliant and I can see that continuing with Fallout 3. Which brings me back to the whole point of this post, things seem to be changing within my gaming lately and while I clearly can't explain it or even what these changes are, it has been quite intriguing for me. The last few weeks have been very interesting for me as a gamer and what I have said above are only a few examples of what I have been thinking about. Change is afoot in the land of Nismo and what else can I say other than that I look forward to seeing where these changes end up taking me.
It's interesting though, isn't it?