A quick look on Metacritic and from my knowledge of game releases from the first quarter of 2012 and I’ve noticed a noticeable set of titles that have been less than good. That’s not to say there have been nothing but bad games released recently but for the most part, the most critically acclaimed games from January to March 2012 have been the expected ones, like Mass Effect 3. Many games that were reasonably high profile have either underwhelmed (SoulCalibur V, Twisted Metal) or just failed completely (Ninja Gaiden III, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City).
AAAAHHHH!!!! Get this bad game off of me!!!
The downloadable front has also been rather pitiful. Sure, Journey is being lauded and The Simpsons Arcade Game is a blast from the past but there’s nothing else of note on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Instead, we’ve been getting either mediocre games like NFL Blitz and Motorstorm RC or terrible games, like Zack Zero, Amy, Choplifter HD, and Shoot Many Robots. Microsoft’s House Party 2012 has really been a middling experience with the PixlBit review scores for the four games – Warp, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Nexuiz, and I Am Alive – being respectively 3, 3.5, 2, and 3 out of 5.
Upon making this realization, I wondered why this is. Titles like NeverDead and Silent Hill: Downpour are falling flat and other titles like Asura’s Wrath and Syndicate are only managing to give decent experiences. Funny thing is there was a time when this kind of roll out for games during this time of the year was the norm, with only a few niche titles providing lasting quality. Times have changed though and after getting Bayonetta, Burnout Paradise and Dead Space 2 during the month of January alone, this year has failed to provide a steady stream of quality titles early on. Maybe we’re spoiled or maybe the reserve on good titles is drying up but I’m reading more reviews of high profile games failing than I am succeeding.
You may have never known her if she came around two months prior.
I understand creating games is a tough task to undertake, with the many men and women in the developers and publishers camp working to deliver a quality product. No one person creates these games on their own, despite your gaming figureheads like Tim Schaffer or Cliff Blezinski. Many people work on these games and various opinions and visions are at work and possible clash while the game is being created. So it is possible that something with the game will be compromised or overlooked or over thought to the games detriment. Having said that, the reason for the recent trickle of games being lackluster could be one of two things.
Something titles that have done well during this early year time period have in common is they are all big titles that aren’t necessarily triple A titles that could have competed with the holiday rush. Not so much in quality but in marketing. Dead Space 2 would have been buried under Call of Duty: Black Ops, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and the release of Kinect, among other games, despite it being just as good if not better than those games. No one would have even heard of Bayonetta if it had been released in November. However, this year saw titles that should have been released in January, February released in November. Rayman Origins should have been one of those games.Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is another. Instead, we got nothing until Final Fantasy XIII-2 on literally the last day of January.
That yellow bird is screaming “Why didn’t you just wait a few months!?”
So maybe some games that should have been released this year were released early. The other reason however could be that a formula that is usually used is being abused. Say that three times fast. Anyway, the beginning of the year is the best time for quirky and niche but well developed smaller titles to find an audience. However, titles like Scarygirl and Puddle show that more effort went into the quirky and niche than in the developing. One thing I noticed right from the get go when I was playing Scarygirl for review was this game wanted to be Braid or Limbo. It’s not and it reeks of someone trying to get a slice of the pie. Using that game as an example, a formula of releasing off beat titles during the early part of the year has backfired now that there’s games trying to be different rather than being good games with different ideas.
I will say this. This may have been foreseen because the majority of the good games released in the past three months have been long RPGs. So who cares if there’s nothing else coming out until Mass Effect 3, you’ve got Kingdoms of Amalur to keep you busy! Also, an exception to this is the 3DS, which is continuing its upswing with titles like Resident Evil: Revelations and Metal Gear Solid 3D as well as online titles like Mutant Mudds (Dillon’s Rolling Western notwithstanding). Also,BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend. Still my favorite game I’ve reviewed for the site so far. With the release of titles like Kid Icarus Uprising and Sine Mora seeing positive reviews, maybe this slug of game releases will improve in the next quarter of 2012.