With talks on the internet of where the industry is currently headed, it's hard to imagine where exactly we're heading. A year ago I was convinced virtual reality would be the next step, but it seems this new generation is more about social interaction and media expansion. From Wii U's Miiverse to Sony's online interaction innovations, console gaming seems to be stepping into territory more so about interaction than changing how we play.
However, the industry is not without its skeptics. I follow a handful of personalities online and often hear their thoughts on the continuing trends of the game industry. RazorFist for instance, a youtube personality with an intricate vocabulary as long as his hair, believes that we are currently seeing a video game crash, citing the multiple closings of various studios both small and large as well as the possible end to console gaming as we know it.
Furthermore, there's ReviewTechUSA, a neutrally and brutally honest tech-head who speaks about news articles pertaining to video games for both consoles and computers. He believes that gaming is moving toward the favor of the smartphone market, citing the growing similarities between smartphones and their functionality with TVs and their multimedia services as well as how cheap it is to buy/sell them when compared to consoles.
RazorFist may be right about the crash and ReviewTechUSA may be right about smartphones becoming the new lead platforms in console gaming. Who can say for sure?
This brings me to my ultimate point. Today I've seen the trailer for Beyond: Two Souls, the new title for PS3 by Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain.
Needless to say, I was very impressed by it. Since their "Kara" demo, I've been particularly impressed with Quantic Dream's evolving motion capture technology. In a similar vain to James Cameron's Avatar, the focus of this title is about making characters based upon real life actors (such as the lead role filled by Ellen Page or the newly revealed supporting role filled by Willem Dafoe).
While I did express concern in my previous blog about redundancy with art styles in the upcoming generation, I feel this trailer showed an element of uniqueness in that respect. The trailer presented many light and dark color schemes and a variety of interesting looking environments for the player to explore. Furthermore, Quantic Dream seems to be succeeding in its effort to make games far more cinematic than they ever have been before. Should I even mention how intriguing the story is to me? If there was a PS3 game to play at the end of its lifespan (aside from The Last of Us, that is), it's this one.
Despite its critics, I felt their first venture in this realm, Heavy Rain, was a flawed but fun experience. With multiple endings and an interesting take on failure and the end of a playable character's life, the game had some very interesting ideas that, in my opinion, made the flaws more easily overlooked.
It's nice to see Quantic Dream expanding on this and showing not only what their tech is capable of, but the ever growing development on console games. Comparing Beyond to Heavy Rain is like comparing Halo 4 to Halo 3; despite being on the same system, there are distinct differences (not to mention improvements) on how the games look both graphically an stylistically.
I feel that unique experiences like these will keep traditional gaming consoles in the limelight in the game industry. So while Apple/Android smartphones continue to appeal to a more casual crowd, developers like Quantic Dream will continue to fill that more 'core' void that those smartphone platforms simply cannot satisfy if only for the time being.