Saints & Sinners (May 26)
In the video game industry, the fans are bombarded by two separate yet equally important groups: Saints, who bring with them only the purest form of joy, and Sinners, beings dedicated solely to evoking misery. These are their stories.
Finally, Drew Robbins has come back to Got Game, and, as always, his soul burns with passion for the industry. Perhaps my soul’s burning has nothing to do with passion and instead relates to the fact that I’ve spent the past few days in Hell. No, I didn’t die and suffer for my (many) sins; I bought Diablo III. I feel like I can find some common ground with the masses in the fact that I haven’t played the game much, but what little I have played I have loved. Of course, there will be more on that later as I dive headfirst into the Well of Agony that is this week’s edition of Saints & Sinners.
Sony: I’m in love. This isn’t the first time, but this time I know it’s for real; the PlayStation Vita has, before having even purchased the hardware, stolen my heart.
Incidentally, it has gone about this thievery with the aid of one Sly Cooper, the mischievous, treasure-hungry raccoon that helped to make the PlayStation 2 a safe haven for modern platformers. As a huge fan of the franchise with an unfortunate lack of a PlayStation 3, I was becoming increasingly concerned that I would not be capable of experiencing the next entry into the series, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. My worries were all but erased when Sony confirmed that Thieves in Time would be one of many PlayStation 3 titles that would also be making its way to the PlayStation Vita, a port that will launch simultaneously alongside the home version.
It isn’t the standalone victory of this moment that makes me happy; instead, it is the multiple victories being experienced down the road that have lead to my positive disposition. The PlayStation Vita is a unique device independent of the PlayStation 3, but it is also a fledgling piece of hardware that could use some guidance as it finds itself in the crowded portable market. Launching exciting, first-party software that already has a well-established following on the platform is a great way to kick off its life cycle without having to wait for developers to come around to the new technology.
For instance, look at the Nintendo 3DS, a unique device independent of the Nintendo Wii that, as a fledgling piece of hardware, could have used some guidance in the process of finding itself in the crowded portable market. Instead, the 3DS has remained isolated in its self-discovery and has yet to craft a competent library after an entire year on the market. The Nintendo Wii might not be the best console, but would it have hurt Nintendo tremendously to have worked with developers to co-opt previously established entities to the 3DS? I can only imagine that having some safe titles released throughout the year would help to ease the load being carried by games attempting to satiate the niche of that particular market.
With Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, another of this year’s major PlayStation 3 releases, both presumed to be on the way to the PlayStation Vita this fall, much-needed buzz is being focused on Sony’s successor to the ill-fated PlayStation Portable. The wealth of content on offer here is more than enough to get me to buy into the young handheld, but let’s hope that this momentary aid will only serve as a supplement to more unique, exclusive experiences to come to the platform in the near future.
Sega: I just recently completed a review of a Sega-published game that I wasn’t overly fond of; this would have been an unexpected reaction in the 1990’s, maybe, but in 2012 it’s about as expected as Peter Molyneux making overly-optimistic promises about his next big project. It’s such a shame to see that this once-great studio has resorted to halfhearted imitations of the past when in the days of my youth they were a cornerstone of innovation. With the help of Ron Gilbert and Double Fine, Sega may well become the source of creative output one more time.
The Cave is an odd game with an odd premise and, coincidentally, odd characters. In it, players are tasked with maneuvering a trio (comprised of any number of combinations of the game’s peculiar cast), through a cave that is as daunting as it is vocal. While in the confines of the structure, users must switch between members of their team to conquer a variety of puzzles as they work their way towards an ending that is unique to the individuals being used. For those keeping score at home, The Cave sounds suspiciously like the result of a one night stand between The Lost Vikings, Metroid, and The Secret of Monkey Island.
I love Lost Vikings, I love Metroid, and I have much interest in further exploring The Secret of Monkey Island. Now, with The Cave, an experience exists that combines the best elements of all three of these games into one product, and Sega is the publisher at the helm. Publishers may not have much more than a vested in a title’s monetary success, but much can be shown by their support of any given piece. The fact that Sega is eagerly indulging in Ron Gilbert and Double Fine’s creative vision is more than enough to make me think that the company is still cognoscente of what a quality intellectual property looks like.
Blizzard: Unfortunately, I missed last week’s column and the chance to be timely in my anger, an emotion largely directed at Blizzard and their penchant of messing up major launch events. That said, I’m still going to dedicate the entire Sinner portion of this week’s editorial to how bad the release of Diablo III was because its effects still linger to this day.
I woke up on May 15 tired and ready to go about my business, but before my day could even begin I was affronted with a Twitter feed comprised almost entirely of a singular hashtag: #error37. Having missed the insanity of the night before, I asked my friends what exactly it was that I had slept through. Their answer rang of a similar tone: Error 37. On the day of the year’s biggest launch, the story wasn’t about how great Diablo III is, how breathtaking its environments are, or how fun it is to plug through the adventure with four people at once; the story was about how poorly Blizzard, the most revered name in PC development, screwed up.
In many similar situations, I would excuse the event as an unfortunate consequence of success, but that isn’t what happened here; Blizzard’s woes came as an unfortunate consequence of actions they had taken to curb the likelihood of Diablo III being widely pirated. Early on in the process, it was revealed that a constant internet connection must be maintained at all times in order to enjoy the benefits of the game’s single and multiplayer campaign. That meant that, at 12:01 am, millions of users would be attempting to occupy Blizzard’s servers regardless of their intent to play alone or with friends, a situation that caused the title’s online interface to crumble and resulted in many customers being incapable of using the product that they had paid $60 for.
The current trend of forcing players to remain connected to the internet is bad news. Yes, doing so does slightly impede the progress of pirates, but even with that barrier of entry several copies of Diablo III were obtained illegally prior to the game’s official launch. On the morning of May 15, few actual consumers were able to play their legally-obtained game while hundreds of pirates were more than able to reap the benefits of breaking the law. Perhaps I’m coming at this from all of the wrong angles, but that seems more than a little out of touch to me.
Blizzard screwed up. Diablo III is a fantastic game but the policies that it has enacted are anything but. As a legal customer, I should be able to use my product regardless of the status of my connection to the internet; I should certainly be more able to use my product than those who chose to obtain their copies through more nefarious means. Why are the many being punished for the choices of the few?
Also, there is lag in a single-player game. How messed up is that?
Judgement has been passed