After playing for 10 minutes, I was quite sure there were Germans hiding amongst the towels in the next aisle. When I got home I accused my wife of being a German spy. Then I tried to machine gun the cat.
But let’s step back for a minute and consider the XBox compared to the XBox 360 (the base model, without the hard drive). What’s the big improvement? The graphics, of course. That’s the big thing — there’s more power, so they can make better and better graphics appear on the screen. Finer detail, smoother movement.
Would that power ever be used for anything else? If so, what? I’m willing to bet that the lion’s share of the processing power of an XBox 360 is graphic-oriented.
Say you doubled the intelligence of the enemy AI. How much processing power would you need to do this compared to the power required to run the graphics? My guess is that it’d be inconsequential.
So what this means is that the entire…point, of making a new system is graphics, graphics, graphics. Think about it, when the ads tout “better games,” what do they mean? More mentally challenging? More thought-provoking? More…what? No, they mean “better graphics.” It’s the be-all and end-all of systems these days.
I’d like to see an XBox 360 version of an a classic XBox game that was advertised as “new and improved,” yet had the same graphic quality. I’m willing to bet it’d get savaged by consumers.
Consider Madden 2006. We discussed “Superstar mode” before, where you create a player by choosing his parents, and guide him through his life and career. Now, this was an innovative thing — it was a new way of looking at the game. And it had nothing to do with improving the graphics — it couldn’t, since it was built for the same hardware as Madden 2005.
But the rules are different when you move from one system to the next generation. You get better…what? Better graphics. Pretty much every other improvement can be done with the old hardware.
This is not to say that better graphics are bad. Just an observation that true innovation in game play doesn’t really require them.
However, does it mean that innovation in gameplay comes later in a lifecycle of a game on the same system, when developers have maxed the graphics out on the hardware and have to look for new ways to change things up for the next release? Would we have seen “Superstar mode” if Madden 2006 was designed for a new console?