SHOOTERS: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE…AND INDIA

As our team was discussing the poor performance of Syndicate and Ghost Recon in India (decent sales on Xbox, poor on PS3 for the latter) compared to ROW (Ghost Recon is currently the top selling game in the UK for example).  I ventured that I preferred Ghost Recon to both Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3.  And there it was, the whole GamesINC office turned around towards me with a look of shock and horror.  Before my open minded colleagues could confiscate my PS3, I ran out of the office and to the safety of the Delhi streets (well…).

What is it about shooters that divide everyone’s opinion so much?  And why, in India, are some games such as Battlefield 3 nearly impossible to find whereas others such as Ghost Recon suffered in sales.  Let’s start with a walk down memory lane…

The First Shooters:  One Choice Only But What a Choice

Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.  These defined the shooter genre. Playing Wolfenstein for the first time was eye opening– you’d never seen or experienced this before.  Tearing through Nazi officers with an unseen array of weapons and finishing off by taking on Hitler!  Beat that!

Chainsaw, Room Full of Ammo, Big Taurus Thingy Monster – Three Reasons Doom Revolutionized Shooters

And then Doom arrived and did that the very next year.  Adding diversity to the levels which was limited in Wolfenstein, a much longer single player mode, much better visuals, mutant aliens and deathmatches (where do you think the term comes from?).

At the time – the choice was limited to these two games for the vast majority of gamers, but it really didn’t matter – these games were so good and revolutionnary.  Doom & Wolfenstein created the shooter genre & even industry (most shooters afterwards were called Doom clones).

The Diversification of Shooters:  The Following Waves

It’s impossible to cover shooters from the mid-90s to mid-2010s without writing a dissertation – so let’s keep it high level.  Once Doom had engrained the genre into video gaming – shooters started slowly branching in different directions.  Quake took on the multiplayer mode, Half-Life took it to the next level and had an actual story line (a darn good one at that), Golden Eye wrapped them both into one awesome pack.  Half-Life and Golden Eye helped popularize the genre on consoles.

Someone Is About To Die – Getting Your Hand On The Rocket Launcher Was Always Satisfying

As the industry evolved, games such as Metal Gear Solid, Tomb Raider, Max Payne, Syndicate, Deus Ex (to name a few) started taking shooters into different directions offering a variety of games reflecting the varied demands of gamers (as well as the diversity in creative juices among development houses).  The diversification has even lead to different sub genres:  First Person and Third Person.  Some would argue that the games above, especially Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid are not really shooters.  You do shoot in them, no?  And this leads us to today…

Today:  A World of Choices

There are two uncontested big hitters today:  Modern Warfare 3 & Battlefield 3.  They keep the same fundamental as the originals – unadulterated action.  Sure – there’s a story thrown in there for good measure, but it’s all about blasting your way through levels or through online opponents. And boy does the formula work:  Modern Warfare 3 hit $1 Billion in sales in 16 days, more than any other release across all digital entertainment genres (it reached $1 Billion before Avatar and Harry Potter:  The Deathly Hallows – Part 2).  There have been a number of similar style games over the last twelve months which haven’t quite hit the same standard this year such as Homefront and Bodycount to name a couple.

Battlefield 3 Multiplayer – It’s Beautiful, It’s Chaotic, And It’s Hours of Endless Fun

For those not so much into the spray and pray – there’s a myriad of additional choices, some different by degrees (Max Payne 3, Black Ops, Crysis), some offering completely different experiences (Deux Ex, Ghost Recon, Uncharted).  There’s also been a merging with RPG which has given us some absolute classics such as Red Dead and the GTA series.

The multiplayer has also really taken to the fore – even games such Max Payne & Uncharted 3 offer multiplayer modes.  Development houses have kept gamers hooked for tens if not hundreds of hours of gameplay with awesome multiplayer modes.  For example, one of our regular customers wanted to trade in Max Payne 3 – we called him up and suggested he try the multiplayer before he made his decision.  He hasn’t traded it in, he likes the multiplayer too much – not a good business decision, but we’re gamers and we want people to get the maximum enjoyment.  In addition to the multiplayer, new DLCs appearing all the time mean that there’s no need to get a new game – as developers are constantly adding new maps, challenges, weapons to your game.

The Future:  What does it look like?

Developers will keep trying to keep gamers hooked into their games for as long as possible.  This year does not see such a heavy hitting line up as the end of last year (2012 actually might be a lighter year between big line ups in 2011 and 2013).  Modern Warfare fans might make the jump into Black Ops 2 in the winter when it releases, whereas Battlefield 3 fan boys seem a loyal bunch, and might stay away from a Call of Duty game – from observation, they could be playing Battlefield 3 for a while (I nearly got lynched on Facebook too for suggesting Ghost Recon is better than BF3).  Medal of Honor: Warfighter might be the big surprise as they are timing their release to perfection – jut when the market might be looking for a new traditional shooter.

Medal of Honor – Real World Conflicts, Tight Graphics, Chaotic, and Perfect Timing. Could Be A Big Hit

Does that mean the end of diversity in the gaming industry? By no means – sales of Max Payne 3 have been good, and gamers are always looking to get into new games – so while the multiplayers will keep fans occupied, it won’t stop them buying the latest games on release.  Over the last twelve months, games like Uncharted, Deus Ex, Saints Row The Third and L.A. Noire have entertained even the biggest BF3 or MW3 fan.

And this year, well next year actually – there’s a lot of interesting games in proposition which could take a lot of genres to the next level. Crysis 3 in particular looks stunning, and seems to be bringing a lot more options to players. Tomb Raider seems to have reinvented itself into a grittier more real game.  The Last of Us just looks like something we haven’t before.  And finally we can’t wait to get our hands on WatchDogs, which looks like a Deus Ex on steroids.  The last 3 in particular promise so much in terms of the evolution of shooters. Check out our preview of what’s coming in our E3 round up.

Will it look any different in India?

In India, the reason that games such as Ghost Recon and Syndicate struggled even more than internationally is that they were not hitting the spray and pray demand of the market – as well as not having the multiplayer following that will allow you to play against your friends.  The stealth and cooperative modes that these games offered do not appeal as much.  If you can shoot a thousand enemies per minute, why settle for ten?  Especially if those enemies are not your friends…

Watch Dogs – Cyberpunk, Strong Story, Intense Action, Good Looking, Everyone Is Hackable. Hits All Our Buttons

And in the case of Syndicate – the Indian market’s dynamics, a younger average age of gamers meant that the emotional attachment that us old timers had with the title did not push them to buy it. If anything – the Indian market is going to heavily go for the heavy hitters and less likely to go for the offshoots in the shooter genre.  With time – as the market keeps growing and ageing – things might change…but for the moment, we expect Black Ops 2 to perform well.  Medal of Honour is a bit of an unknown quantity for the Indian market, it could do very well as gamers look for a new shooter and it’s timing is perfect…or it could suffer the same fate as Ghost Recon and Syndicate.  We’re not expecting too much from Halo 4…but you never know, Halo fan boys might come out of the closet for the latest one.

2013 should be interesting – the popularity of such the reinvented Tomb Raider, the widely expected Last of Us and Watch Dogs will tell us a lot about the preferences of gamers in India.

What are your thoughts?  Did you choose Max Payne 3 or Ghost Recon: Future Soldier?  Why?

As always – keep up to date with our latest news, offers, and releases on Facebook and Twitter.  For all your gaming needs in India – shop @ GamesINC.  www.gamesinc.in

We offer all the latest and greatest shooters on our Web site.  If you wanna pick up some shooters at unbeatable prices, check out our high quality used games for Xbox here (includes Mass Effect 3, MW3, Black Ops & many more) or our PS3 collection (includes MW3, Syndicate, Deus Ex & many more).

Disclaimer:  Some people will have objections to the classifications of shooter, especially for games such as Tomb Raider, GTA, and Deus Ex. I’ve taken the “if you shoot something, it’s a shooter” perspective.  Controversial, I know…

And apologies to PC fan boys for not covering your platform in a lot of depth (except for the early days). You’ve accused us of being too console oriented, and that’s true – we write on what we know. We’re actually looking for PC bloggers if you’re interested…

 

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE: THANK YOU, E3 2012

This article comes to us from our guest writer, Anish Kataria. Anish is a passionate gamer, a car and bike enthusiast, and a generally happy guy. He can be reached on twitter @AnishKataria.

Gamers in India have never had it easy!  Trying to find a little bit of gaming nirvana has always been a difficult task in our country, and has led countless gamers to tread cautiously across narrow by-lanes and deal with vendors whose products left a lot to be desired.  The delayed software/hardware launches, freakishly high import tariffs, inaccessible network services (thank you, Sony!), and the overall apathy of the international gaming community toward us.

Sony-E3-Never-Stop-Playing

E3 is the annual carnival for the computer and video games industry.

But lamentations aside, let’s get to the reason why I am writing this article.  The Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known as E3) is the annual carnival for the computer and video games industry and is presented by the Entertainment Software Association.  E3 2012 was held between June 5th and 7th in Los Angeles.  So, here’s my take on the 5 titles that gamers should look forward to.  Unfortunately, some of them are tied down to certain platforms but that just means that we’ll have to call upon our brethren for access, unless you’re one of the lucky few who have both the PS3 and the Xbox 360!

Crysis 3

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Q2 2013

The Crysis series of games has always been the top of any list that I’ve created as a result of the exhilarating game-play, brilliant graphics, and well-written storyline.  Initial trailer reveals that Crytek (the game developer) has another ace up its sleeve and ‘Prophet’ (the main protagonist) looks amazingly cool handling the killer composite bow with 4 different arrow tips (remember John Rambo facing the Russians in Afghanistan?). The trailer shows that the developers have made it easier for gamers to use multiple paths/ways to plan your attack before each mission!  Other interesting bits include being able to control alien weaponry for the first time in the series and multiple pre-scripted settings for the nanosuit.

The game starts with the Prophet returning to New York City in 2047 and finding the city enclosed by a nanodome that turns most of the city into a rainforest.  The corrupt Cell Corporation (Yes, every cool game must have one evil corporation!) is trying to grab both land and technology, while Prophet battles wicked aliens and Cell’s thugs for payback!

Medal of Honor:  Warfighter

Platform(s):  PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  End October 2012

Medal of Honor:  Warfighter (also called Medal of Honor: 2) builds on, and is a direct sequel to, the critically acclaimed series reboot Medal of Honor from 2010.  Expect some breathtaking visuals and immersive surroundings from this game as it’s based on an evolved version of DICE’s Frostbite 2.0 engine (the one used in Battlefield 3!).  The single player mode will continue to follow the story of Tier 1 operators who are the most precise, aggressive, and disciplined (make sense?) warrior in the US arsenal.  Every single mission in this game is aligned to an actual historical event or a real world hotspot (e.g. Somalia).

The game’s stage-debut at E3 provided a great insight into the vast number of preferences on offer in the single player campaign.  This includes taking out entire buildings with air support, using a remote-controlled robot that offers grenade launchers and Gatling guns, and engaging in firefights in different ways.  To top it off, the multiplayer mode features 13 playable Tier 1 special force units from 10 countries!

Watch Dogs

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release: 2013

You are no longer an individual; you’re a data cluster bound to a global network—so says the trailer (woah!). Storyline, good storyline, the most awesome storyline! This game from Ubisoft Montreal has unleashed a torrent of tweets across cyberspace, left the gaming community stunned, and is undoubtedly the most anticipated game coming out of E3.

The game takes you to Chicago of the near future, one of many cities controlled by a supercomputer called ctOS (Central Operating System).  ctOS controls almost every piece of technology in the windy city and collates/processes information on all its residents.  In the game, you’ll play Aiden Pearce, a highly skilled hacker who can kick ass in the physical domain as well.  Gameplay demo from E3 showed Aiden jam cellphones to serve as a quick distraction, access personal information from the central hub to start conversations, tapping phone calls to retrieve critical information, and manipulate traffic lights to cause massive damage.  The game seemed a bit GTAish when the gameplay demo was demonstrated but slowly started revealing the strategic insight and behavioral tendencies of our antihero (?).

Overall, cyberpunk comes back with a bang!

Tomb Raider

Platforms:  PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Early March 2013

Guess who’s back?  Yes, she’s back—the fantasy of every teenage boy at the turn of the century.  Tomb Raider became a household name (Angelina Jolie may have played a small part) because of the way Lara Croft was designed (sexy, suave, intelligent, and dangerous), the depth and multiplicity of plot (first 3 titles mostly?), and the ever changing game environments.

This new game is a fresh start for the franchise and is a prequel to the original series.  In this game, a young naïve Lara Croft gets stranded on a tropical island in the dragon’s triangle after the ship she was travelling in is hit by a storm and shattered in two.  The game shows how Lara developed her tomb raiding skills because of chance and not by choice (she’s really scared of tombs in the beginning of the game).  Further, it makes Lara more human, more believable, and develops her character/her physical presence slowly as the game progresses.  More so, it makes you forget the cold icy Lara of the past and gives her a heart (she apologizes to a deer she had to kill in order to get some much needed nutrition!).

It looks like the developers have done a really good job of adding some RPG elements to the game, making it a wee bit more open-world rather than the linear (reach-your-objective games of the past), and making her physical movements more authentic.

Halo 4

Platform(s):  Xbox 360

Expected Release:  Early November 2012

Personally, I’m not looking forward to this game since I feel this franchise is over-rated (and I don’t have an XBOX 360) but since this is the highest selling game on the Xbox platform, I just had to include it (yes, double standards!).  On second thoughts, the new game actually looks pretty cool.  Graphically, the engine in Halo 4 seems to be doing a better job than the one in Halo 3 as the lighting effects feel better and Master Chief’s character model looks a bit more detailed.

The game continues 5 years after Halo 3 ends and marks the return of Master Chief and his best friend Cortana after they were lost in space.  Action in the game takes place on an unknown Forerunner (race of ancient beings) planet.  Other game elements highlighted across gaming discussion boards include Cortana’s insanity, increased emphasis on exploration/discovery, and aligning the multiplayer campaign with single player story elements.

Other notable mentions from the event include:

The Last of Us (only PS3)

This game is going to be awesome! Check out this discussion from the great guys at http://www.ign.com.

God of War Ascension  (only PS3)

Epic series comes back with a bang and also adds a multiplayer mode!

Assassin’s Creed 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and WiiU) 

Shows potential.

Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

I feel that the series is over hyped (especially after the last one) and I’m not really looking forward to it!

Dead Space 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360)

Scary, very scary!

In other gaming news – DICE has just launched Battlefield 3 premium.  This membership service costs a one-time fee of USD 49.99 (Rs 1899 in India, if I remember correctly from the figure I saw late last night!).  This service is a must have for any BF3 aficionado as it offers all five expansion packs (Back to Karkland, Close Quarters, Armored Kill, Aftermath, and Endgame), exclusive in-game items, online double XP events, and insider tips/tricks from DICE.  I really want to get this but I’m wondering how to bypass Sony’s hackable payment structure. Sigh!

Till we meet again, may the force be with you!