Are Todays Games Really Any Better?

By David Layzelle

Stepping away from Forza Horizon 3 on an Xbox One S connected to a 4K TV reminds you that computer game graphics have risen to a point where they are almost indistinguishable from reality.  The way that light shimmers across iridescent paintwork, and darts through gaps between foliage brings a startling realism to consoles.

But apart from the eye candy, have game concepts really progressed from pre-millennium ones?  With the graphics issue addressed, Horizon 3 is still just a car racing game, just like Super Mario Carts or Lego Racers.  The concept is just the same, even if the look and feel of the game has improved.  The saying, there’s nothing new under the sun certainly applies to video gaming, and while they may look better, they also seem to have lost a certain charm, and a good deal of excitement in the rush to be lifelike.

First Person Shooters (FPS) are a staple of the gaming industry, but seem to have become so large, so complex, that one wonders if the developers haven’t missed the point somewhere.  While Destiny 2 – the follow up to Budgie’s slow-burning action game of three years ago – is actually a cross between FPS and RPG (role-playing Game), it is still one of the current crop of shooters. Played out on multiple planets and environments, it is almost mind boggling in its complexity.

Measure that against the mid 90’s Quake II, a pinnacle of FPS’s, which was fairly linear in gameplay but represented just hours of fun as you blasted your way through the Strogg-filled corridors and rooms on Ultra-hardcore mode.  The graphics aren’t great compared to today’s games and you are pushed in certain directions, but it was just a frantic battle that left you dizzy.  The same applies to the Doom franchise and the glorious Return to Castle Wolfenstein!

Similarly, with adventure games like TombRaider; Lara Croft is now chiselled rather than looking like she is made out of granite blocks, but in upping the frames per second, and packing in more content, the developers have lost a lot of the cuteness and simple fun that made the game so enjoyable. Tombraider III (1998 vintage) was just fantastic; many will have fond memories of trying to figure out just how to complete a particular level.  Unlike newer versions where many of the puzzles are almost handed to you, TombRaider III took it to extreme levels.  In the Nevada portion of the game, there was a door near the end of the level that could only be opened using a button that was right near the start of the level, requiring a trek all the way back to operate it, once you’d worked it out!!!  That was the level complexity that faced you; it took dedication – not to mention a good memory – and it made the game all the more enjoyable, if not a little frustrating at times.

Computer games have become more involved as game engines have evolved to increase graphics capability and playability.  No doubt gamers from the future will look back at the titles we have now and wonder how people played without haptic suits and full VR gear, just as todays gamers may look at those of quarter of a century ago with disdain, but remember, bigger isn’t necessarily better.

If you have a fit of nostalgia for old games, and running an operating system that will support them, you can find loads for free download at sites such as Best Old Games and similar sites. Search out old favourites, download, install, the just ENJOY!

Taken from the November 2017 issue of Geek Parenting, out now!

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