The age of innocence of Playstation is almost over
This is a little controversial blog for PS3 fans. I've put this under the 'Playstation Family' because I honestly believe the age off innocence is almost over on PS3. Wherever this is a good thing or not I'm not sure.
I'm talking about the same stuff that I usually rally about, the constant disappearance of pick up and play platformers and action adventures that all ages can play on Playstation systems. I've made this point about the platformer dying a slow death over and over again and this is more or less an update on the situation.
I type this because I am uncertain if we are about to witness 'the last Ratchet and Clank' game on PS3 and possibly the last in the series. I have roughly 2 weeks to find this out by playing through ACiT due to living in the United Kingdom and having to wait a few weeks after US date.
Anyway, back to the state of innocence; I believe that a strong part of the Playstation brand was the fact that there were 'kiddy' games which adults could also play too, right back to the original Crash Bandicoot to Medievil, Spyro, Ape Escape and then moving onto the PS2 with Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank and the Sly series. The Playstation and PS2 had this brilliant split between child friendly platformer franchises and adult games, such as Resident Evil, MGS, Tomb Raider and the like.
Still to this day, the PS3 is missing this. Another strong point is the fact all the developers that were making these innocent games are moving into making much more mature games, they are developing games for those who followed the original franchises they made before.
Naughty Dog has made the most natural progression in the choice of franchises and style, hopping from the ultra 'Looney Tunes' look of Crash Bandicoot, the decieving Cortex in Crash 2 pretending to save the world and reverting back to no morals in the later games to the more anime and manga inspired Jak and Daxter, then jumping to a more rundown and darker scenario even getting near to a Mad Max type scenario; this was the first point that Naughty Dog started 'maturing' with the audience, I honestly prefered this 'band of friends' angle which ND introduced from Jak 2 onwards. Uncharted as a franchise is nearly ND all grown up with the guns from Jak, the running sequences from Crash and the band of friends from Jak. The recent Uncharted 2 moved ND into dabbling with much darker plotlines, without any spoilers it still becomes debatable if Nathan Drake is a hero at the end of the game but the game still feels 'comfortable'.
Last gen Insomniac dabbled with an experiment to make the Ratchet franchise darker with Ratchet Gladiatior/Deadlocked, I honestly liked the action in this game, but this was Insomniac getting ready to get mature after the cutesy as heck Spyro series and gradually making Ratchet and Clank more and more about invasions, threats and blowing things up without a care making it completely the opposite of the earlier games in the Spyro franchise.
In fact it is quoted somewhere where Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac mentioned that he believed that the Ratchet games were more violent than most people discredit them to be, because kids are playing games where they shoot and shoot endless lifeforms but in a 'saturday morning cartoon' manner (If I could find this quote, it would be here). Insomniac then creeped into being more mature with Resistance Fall of Man, which right from the beginning looked like a very dark alternate WW2 game, if you look at some elements in Resistance, you can see that parts like giant robot spiders were actually developed from parts in Ratchet Gladiator/Deadlocked. Since then Insomniac has been hopping back and forth from the dark world of Resistance to the bright cartoon world of Ratchet and Clank.
Is this pattern about to end? I honestly think that despite how hard Insomniac try, I think becoming 'fully mature' like Naughty Dog would be a BAD thing. Naughty Dog can do that, fact is, in the quality and design aspect, nobody can fault that the Ratchet series have a lot more care put into them. Why do you think that Ratchet is still being made by the same developer on the PS3 after 4 games already of the PS2, they obviously CARE about this jokey cartoony innocence which nobody makes anymore. Insomniac dumping the action/adventure genre would be a devestating blow and in true honesty, I find that Insomniac have struggled with Resistance as a franchise already, perhaps they can pull it back up with Resistance 3.
Another issue with Insomniac is that they are fantastically experienced in developing cartoon inspired worlds, in fact the worlds they create in the Ratchet series are ofter awe inspiring. You can't say the same about Resistance, I can't say that either Resistance games looked amazing, they looked on par what Bungie was creating and it's obvious that Insomniac struggle with realism, they still struggle with the correct narrative in order to tell the Resistance franchise as a whole and it seems like they didn't even like their own lead character for the main PS3 games as seen from Resistance 2. In short, Insomniac going down the mature route after Ratchet and Clank would be a very, very bad day for Playstation. Also those who want Insomniac to 'have the Killzone 2 engine for Resistance 3' are hypocrites, these guys make games from scratch including the engines, imagine how annoyed Insomniac are when they're being told by their fans that they should use middleware for their created games.
With Sucker Punch, they've also started creeping out into the boundaries of making mature games with Infamous, and believe me, Infamous is a great game and a much smoother jump than Insomniac had from Ratchet to Resistance. The game does look great and the style and story telling is appropriate after the cel shaded Sly trilogy (which I have not actually played). Before Infamous, Sucker Punch was nothing more than a blip on my radar, I tried a demo of the first Sly, but didn't like the gameplay, Infamous however; is great. I now see Sucker Punch as another Naughty Dog and probably Sony's new specialist open world game developers. But again, can they go back from this new gained mature audience?
So over the years, Sony have discarded and just stopped franchises such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Ape Escape, Medievil (never even had a trilogy, despite both games being well recieved), Sly (and except from the upcoming PSP and PS2 game) Jak and Daxter and soon, we may be saying goodbye for ever or perhaps the rest of this gen to Ratchet and Clank. But we do have the newcomer Little Big Planet, but it's not exactly like those old action/adventure games, is it?
So look at the biggest mascot of the Playstation family now; who is the biggest mascot of the system. Kratos. God of War is now the leading franchise and that too is about to end (or at least Kratos' story). Sure, it's great that all these developers have matured with us, but doesn't anyone want the choice of having a split between mature games and the fun, innocent platformer?
So my point of this blog is; First parties and second parties are moving on, although good, it is equally as bad, for example, will you feel safe buying a 12 year old kid Uncharted or Infamous despite all the shooting. dark issues and morals? You can't have your cake and eat it on the Playstation anymore and I honestly believe that Sony going mature all the way for the determinable future is a very bad thing to happen.
Where can Naughty Dog go after Uncharted? Can they actually go any more deeper with the next franchise than Uncharted without losing the comfort of the Naughty Dog narrative and style?
Is Insomniac moving to mature games for the determinable future a good idea? Or is platformers/action adventures their forte?
Should Sucker Punch stick with the gritty look of Infamous or go a little brighter down the line again? Is Infamous 2 going to be even more deeper in moral and issues than Infamous and become even less of a game you would feel that you shouldn't let a kid play alone without supervision?
So these are my questions and my view of things; Is it healthy for this to all happen? Just look at the variety and ages of fans whom play Ratchet and Clank, does Sony really want to get rid of that audience and should Sony should be thinking about getting some new first parties and developers if these developers are going to stick getting more and more mature each franchise on each Playstation system?
Your views below please!