I keep forgetting that it's 2012. I have to stop writing 2011 on everything.

Genre blending: a good thing or not?

Those comments by Hitman: Absolution developer IO Interactive concerning the changing stealth genre really got me thinking. I distinctly recall a time when most games could easily fall into one category. It would take all of five seconds to categorize most any given title. But as technology has advanced, designers have been able to implement a variety of gameplay mechanics, meaning the lines between genres are getting blurrier by the second. It's just that so many gamers remember a time when, for example, stealth was stealth. You couldn't play Metal Gear Solid with a run 'n gun attitude. It's just not possible (at least, not really).

And so, when we see all this action-oriented gameplay in titles like Absolution , fans of the genre get all bent out of shape. They're not realizing that the action should be – according to the devs – entirely optional . It's just an expansion; i.e., more choice for the player. But do you think this is a good thing? Or would you rather have more defined genres as we used to have? It was a little more straightforward, after all…

It's true that all major regions are different, but…

I'm not sure I like Sony's statement about how you can't predict anything based on the Japanese launch of the PlayStation Vita. I mean, first of all, Japan really seems to love their portable electronic devices, so if a handheld doesn't fare well there, I'm not sure it'll explode elsewhere. Secondly, while I certainly understand the inherent demographic and cultural differences, you can't tell me there's nothing to be learned from the Vita launch in Japan. We shouldn't be passing judgment or making far-reaching predictions just yet, but in many respects, gamers are gamers. A gamer who likes handheld entertainment in Japan can't be that much different than a fan of handheld entertainment elswhere…can he?

Me, I don't want to complicate the issue. I just think that despite all the considerations and factors, it really comes down to price and available games. It seems the Vita has the games, but the price may be somewhat restrictive. There's also the question of mobile gaming (tablets, phones) versus dedicated handheld gaming devices, but let's face it: if the Vita was a hundred bucks, it'd sell like mad, right?

Personal gaming update

I'm at the end of Gears of War 3 (I think) and I guess I'll have to be on the lookout for Final Fantasy XIII-2 in the next few weeks. I liked a few things about the playable demo , like the fact that the game isn't automatically over if the leader dies, but I have plenty of reservations. I'm just not that excited about it. However, although it's too heavy on the QTEs, that Asura's Wrath demo was pretty wacky. Games that are so unabashedly over-the-top are really quite entertaining in a lot of ways; sorta refreshing in a way, too. One always thought all video games would head in this direction back in the '80s; every single game had an over-the-top theme then.

Not much else to report, although I should add that after 7 years with my old cell phone, I finally caved and got a new one. They were offering the Samsung Stratosphere 4GLTE for free with a two-year contract (and there was an upgrade available on our family plan). So whatever; $30/month for 4G worth of data, which I'll never use up, and $10/month for the insurance. I can live with that. But don't ask if I'm sitting in the living room playing games on it. If I'm playing games in the house, it's on the freakin' TV. 😉