Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Last Hurrah

Here we are again...another console generation is coming to an end.  Some like to look to the future and all the new and exciting games that will be possible on new hardware platforms.  Others look to the past and reminisce over their favorite games of yesteryear.  For me though it isn't about the past or the future, but rather the here and now.  The reason I feel so inclined to enjoy this twilight period is because more often than not it has some of the best gaming experiences of a system's entire lifespan.

Looking back to my first console, the Atari 2600, I had a good time with Pitfall 2.  Skip ahead a bit to the SNES and it was Starfox courtesy of the FX chip.  N64 had Perfect Dark, which book ended rather nicely with the console launch window title GoldenEye.  Then on PSX, I enjoyed titles like Front Mission 3 and Vagrant Story.  PS2 more or less concluded it's illustrious carrier for me with Shadow of the Colossus...rather fitting since it began with Ico.

Of course the reasons for most video game systems finishing strong comes from developers learning how to get every last drop of processing power out of the hardware.  As an added bonus the price tends to be a bit cheaper than usual as well.  I can remember picking up Vagrant Story for $30 at a local Best Buy electronics store because they were doing an inventory clearance sale to make room for next gen products.

Moving back to the present we are now seeing titles like The Last of Us, but it's only the first stanza in the PS3's swansong.  Dark Souls II, Grand Theft Auto V, Assassins Creed: Black Flag, Thief 4 and a few other promising titles are all scheduled to come out on PS3/Xbox 360 before retirement.  Even after that I'm sure one, or possibly both consoles, will enjoy greater longevity than we have seen in the past since this next generation of hardware is not backwards compatible.  PS2 saw years of continued support after the PS3 release, particularly in Asia, where there isn't such a big push for developers to make their games on the latest hardware.  Perhaps the large install base of last gen might convince some studios in Europe and the Americas to do likewise this time around.

Regardless, don't get overly nostalgic, or conversely too excited about the future. Right this moment is the best time to be into video games in a long time (and most likely for a long time to come).

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