When Crysis 3 failed to pull down the high review scores expected of the widely acclaimed franchise, Crytek boss Cevat Yerli attributed this drop to "gamer fatigue," in that he believes many gamers are simply waiting on the next generation of hardware and are no longer that impressed with what this generation can offer.
But I think he's got that backwards.
I wasn't as enamored with Crysis 3 as I was with Crysis 2 because it felt like a somewhat watered-down version of the Crysis I had come to know and love. Read the full review to understand exactly what I mean, but in short- It felt faster, flashier and yes, a little dumber. It felt like a blend of Crysis and Call of Duty . It was easier, there was less opportunity to really push stealth as a gameplay mechanic, and the story felt rushed. Those appear to be hallmarks of several recent big-budget productions, in truth.
Something very similar happened with Dead Space 3 , which tried to put a premium on co-op and faster action without sacrificing the thrills and chills found in the first two entries (especially the original). But that's an ambitious goal and it didn't really pan out, as most series fans will tell you. Even one of the most highest-rated, most accomplished franchises of all time just missed the mark, although I still think it's a better game than either Crysis 3 or Dead Space 3 . I'm speaking of God of War: Ascension , which, while plenty great, felt almost…unnecessary. The multiplayer was definitely unnecessary, that's for damn sure.
And let's not forget the freshly unveiled Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag , which a great many have found mildly upsetting. It looks fantastic and indeed, it could be fantastic, but most just wanted Ubisoft to take a year off to rethink, retool, and revamp that excellent franchise. A new Call of Duty is coming in 2013 as well (as expected), but Activision was the first to say they don't expect this year's entry to top Black Ops II . That shows they are well aware of the fatigue I'm talking about. …or else they've recognized a slightly dwindling popularity in their vaunted CoD series, which might be inevitable. And in some ways, downright hilarious.
I have yet to award a 9 this year and by this time, I had expected to see at least three, if not more. The closest that any game has come to elite status in my eyes is the recently released Tomb Raider . And this is because, much unlike the three titles mentioned above, this reboot actually gave us a different experience, and in a way that did not reflect the multiplayer/ Call of Duty -fascinated mainstream populace. For the most part, I see developers as suffering more from generation fatigue; it's not the gamers. Gamers will always respond to greatness, regardless of when it arrives.
Of that, I'm relatively certain. So don't hide behind the gamers, Cevat. Developers are the ones showing signs of exhaustion.