As the titans of our current gaming generation saunter off into the distance, or in the Wii's case do a few Wii Sport squats the new generation prepares to emerge from the sea in a tsunami of crisp pixels. Well, except the Wii-U who's already here making pretty coloured puddles between panicked darting glances at the horizon for Link or Mario to show up. Not that the Wii-U's bothered or anything. I mean have you seen a controller as big as this one?
It can be a bleak time firing up your Xbox & thinking: soon this will be just another past chapter in gaming history.
Remember though, my valiant friends, that it is during these generational shifts that the best titles and experimental oddities emerge. We have the luxury of Triple-A titles not only comfortable with the current gen hardware, but pushing it to its limit like a deranged Scotty on the starship XboxLive.
Grand Theft Auto 5 launches in but a few days offering everything from a game of golf to deep see exploration with a lot of killing in-between. This reviewer also suspects a few casual nods will be given to that TV phenomena Breaking Bad, and I for one can't wait to run my own meth lab... Again.
If meth fuelled violence isn't your thing there's Rayman Legends which having stole nine hours of this reviewers last weekend must be praised, nay lorded, for its intuitive game play, Beautiful hand drawn visuals, & the option to play the entire game without becoming the limbless one.
Co-op is a delight allowing two players to play the entire game simultaneously re-spawning as long as the other character is still alive.
Then there's the musical stages adapting the feel of a Guitar Hero game where plastic button bashing is replaced by jumping, punching, and collecting Lums (cute bugs) in time to the pumping music. If however you're looking for a cheaper title there is always the world of Steam games. A microcosm unphased by the approaching new hardware but still demanding, in most cases, a rather healthy PC. If however you are lucky enough to have such a machine there is the brilliant, if brief, Gunpoint. A game where you are treated to a two dimensional side view of a film noir cityscape and have to stealthily negotiate corporate headquarters and future slums by rewiring security cameras and firing your Go-Go-Gadget leg rockets. Yep, that's a real sentence.
Of course in the nerdier world of on-line gaming we recently had the final of Dota 2 being claimed by Swedish bad asses Alliance (they have their own team coats) along with the 1.4 million dollar prize.
Dota 2 is a free title where five players work together choosing a team of heroes' and battling it out for supremacy of the map by destroying the oppositions towers and finally base. Each game your chosen hero (selected from over a hundred) and ideally suited to your teams needs: a warrior, magician, or support hero has to farm grunts (think minions not trouser trumps), level up, kill the opposing team members, and ultimately destroy their home. A narrative we can all relate to especially in the White House (ohh satire). Where the game gets complex is in choosing what items to buy from the maps shops and how to link your moves with that of your team. It's a big commitment to play with the tutorial alone taking several hours, but to experience it with friends provides glory and mystique akin to commuting on a pegasus.
Dota 2 is developed by gaming powerhouse Valve (the masterminds behind steam, the game platform, not the gaseous state) and best of all its free to play. Yes free, without any annoying prompts to buy mystical shit. Instead Valve makes money from taking a small commission on fan made clothing for the Heroes' that us cheap skates don't even have to bother with. Well, unless we want to impress that dwarf.
Then finally there's Plants Vs Zombies 2 another free to play game enjoyable on iOS and ideally tablet. It's fun. There are some great editions but unlike Dota 2 the purchasable bolt ons' are less a discrete luxury and more a constant nattering from the producers. Yes it's a lot of fun, yes it's free, but how much can you enjoy a game that's always reaching to open its jacket and sell you more currency or worse levels you can't otherwise access for hours? Whilst I can see the appeal of pay to play games it seems the line that must be drawn is stop the adverts when the game starts. I could handle a little product placement if Mario needed a Diet Coke break but if half of Mario Land was reserved for the economically endowed I would have drifted to Sonic a long time ago. The rich have enough in this world do they need the pirate zombies too?