Friday, March 12, 2010

About High Voltage Software's change in directions...

At GDC there was a closed door viewing of the 360 version of HVS' game: The Grinder. Well those who got to see it were surprised to find out that it was actually a top down third person shooter. So far the reaction to this from the gaming community has been majorly negative. I mean people are flipping the eff out! Saying that the game as they know it is dead to them, and that HVS is a hack-job developer. I would follow suit, but I've had enough time to sit and gel about the Grinder situation to not sound as scorned as I've been in my previous post. I still think Sega has a huge hand in the multiplatform details, and a few other slight changes, but I'll save that for another discussion.

Well the first thing to point out would be why they are doing such a thing. HVS feels like by stepping into the 360 market with a FPS, they wouldn't be able to compete with the glut of FPS games that are already there. It is something that was actually pointed out by a number of people when the news broke that the game would be going multiplatform. It's a bold move to change genres on the fly like that, but it falls in line with conventional reason. Now the big question would be what is the fate of the Wii and PS3 versions of the game? Both systems are void of an experience like the L4D gameplay that spawned this game. It would be advantageous of the company to capitalize on retaining the game in it's original form for those two consoles and to give the 360 something more akin to Hunter: the Reckoning, which from what I've read was a fairly decent game.

The odd thing about that is noone has really done multiple genre multiplatform games for consoles (that I know of) in a couple decades. Think of games like Strider Hiryu; If you wanted the arcade port of the game you went to the Genesis or the PC Engine (The PC Engine version had more extras, however the Genesis version from what people have said had less flicker and lag). If you wanted an experience that was closer to the source material, which would be the original manga by Moto Kikaku, you play the NES version of Strider. Bionic Commando was the same. Of course this had partly to do with the hardware limitations of the NES, but those ports weren't half-assed at all. in fact they were quite memorable for that (if the reaction to ReArmed has anything to say about it). If HVS actually does pull this off and has two different games that actually sell decently then it kind of puts to bed all these notions that they don't know what they're doing. However, this is a big if, considering they have their work cut out for them in trying to win back their jilted fanbase. Which brings me to the second part of this discussion.

There are a couple of comments about HVS and how they can't make decent games because of their status as a licensed game developer and all. I don't really think that's the problem. It is duly noted that The Conduit's backgrounds could have been redesigned to have a bit more personality than looking like a high res PC game from 1998. The problem there is that there was too much effort on realism over stylization, which resulted in a game that was technically great in some areas, but bland visually. Naturally the answer to that is to stray away from realism, which seems to be the general consensus these days, thanks to the influx of shooter games with dull color palettes that have hit this generation with the force of a locomotive. Now with "Tournament of Legends" they very well could be trying to do something like this; Canning the sepia toned bloody bad-ass gladiator game for something closer to Soul Caliber meets Clash of the Titans. If this is the case then I can respect that.
The problem I would have with this line of thinking is that from the screens shown it could probably stand to spend a little more time in the development stages just to have it's concepts fleshed out a bit more. If they are aiming for Soul Caliber 2 in terms of a comparable experience then they should shoot as high as they can to meet or go beyond such an expectation. Of course due to the constraints of deadlines that probably won't happen, but it's knowledge to take to heart for any other future project or possible sequel opportunities that might arise form this. Now as far as the Grinder's L4D-ish incarnation is concerned, It's a damn fine looking game and if HVS is planning what many think they're planning to do in giving this version to the have-nots, while delivering something different to the haves then I'd have to say that my interest in the game would be retained. Sure it's lacking in graphical polish, but so was the original Left 4 dead. Even with that 'strike' against it L4D is still a memorable game that developed a solid following. If The Grinder can provide a solid 4 player FPS experience with a capable AI based director system like the former along with a strong stable online multiplayer co-op mechanic then the game should be golden.

The problem with this really long exposition is that this is all just a session of "Devil's Advocate" and theory. Now in order to truly see what the future holds for both The Grinder and Tournament of Legends we have to play another game... the waiting game.

Source(s): IGN

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