New Game+

ngpprologue

Recently we saw the release of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which has caused a ruckus in the months leading up to it regarding its length and the cost of paying what many considered to be a “demo” of the upcoming The Phantom Pain. It’s an experimental approach, to be sure, but it isn’t the first example of this in recent years and it certainly won’t be the last. While some might see it as a dangerous trend, I can’t help but see it as a positive approach.

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ngp_multiplayer

My very first New Game+ column was all about the “death” of local multiplayer. No, it never actually died, but with the start of the last console generation it seemed to be steadily disappearing. Online multiplayer continued to get bigger and more popular as the generation went on, with only a select handful of the best actually supporting local play.  Luckily for us, those who love playing games locally with some buddies, we have seen a resurgence of titles that support (or exclusively focus on) local multiplayer in the past couple of years.

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ngp_novelist

How often do you play games that are considered realistic? Does that word even apply to anything you regularly play, or is it something you merely see when people discuss games designed to capture one (or many) aspects of reality? I rarely see myself approaching games for any sort of realism, often leading to the suspension of disbelief. Sometimes it’s easy; after all, nobody plays Super Mario Bros. expecting anything even remotely resembling realism. Sometimes, however, stories being told in games resemble the reality which we inhabit, for better or worse. READ MORE

ngp_storyDLC

Last week saw the release of Left Behind, the first (and only) story-related add-on content for The Last of Us. It both filled in a gap during the game’s main story and also focused heavily on Ellie’s life prior to her meeting Joel. I don’t often invest in downloadable content; once I finish a game and put it down, I rarely have a reason to pick it up again for extra content. Sometimes, however, you just need a little more. Left Behind delivered exactly what I was looking for, and also made me think a lot about story DLC and its impact on a game — especially if it comes out months after its initial release.

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ngp_resh

Resident Evil and Silent Hill have a lot more in common than just genre. Both were popularized on the PS1 and expanded upon during the following console generation. They moved in opposite directions, with Silent Hill sticking close to its roots and Resident Evil attempting to evolve. That being said, both remained shining examples of the horror genre. It wasn’t until the following generation when both series began to move in unrecognizable directions, with new games in each franchise met with mixed reactions.

The mystery behind why this happened isn’t a difficult one to solve, but both have failed to recapture what made them so successful in the first place, leaving me to wonder exactly how these once-beloved franchises can be so easily mismanaged.

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ngp_adventure

There was once a time when people considered the adventure genre to be dead and buried. We still saw various releases, but only a few were noteworthy enough to merit more than a casual glance. This was also around the time I first started getting into adventure games, thanks to a little title known as Grim Fandango. From there, I went back and explored the various LucasArts and Sierra titles I was never able to play when they initially released. I was hooked, even though I fell in love with a genre during its seemingly-inevitable decline.

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ngp_albw

When it comes to reminding us of our gaming pasts, in particular the games we grew up with, no one does it better (or more frequently) than Nintendo. It is often considered the Disney of the gaming industry, and for good reason. While this trend of relying on nostalgia isn’t exclusively a Nintendo idea, one of its most recent releases, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, is exemplary of its desire to remain in touch with its past. It signifies both its struggles as a company over the past decade and how it can easily overcome those struggles: by continuing to look forward.

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ngp_tearaway

Has there ever been a developer you want to love, but can’t simply because its games were not for you? For me, that team was Media Molecule. For the longest time, I was able to appreciate the LittleBigPlanet series from a distance, but found the act of playing it less than enjoyable. It allowed players to express their creativity in remarkable ways, leading to some entertaining user-created content, but it ultimately wasn’t for me. Recently, it released its first Vita title, Tearaway. LittleBigPlanet demonstrated some of Media Molecule’s undeniably charming ambitions, but Tearaway feels full to the brim with its specific brand of creativity.

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ngp_360ps3

The next generation of video games is here! At least, that’s what I’ve been led to believe. Thanks to the increased relevance of PC gaming, we aren’t making a huge generational shift; this is more of a small leap with two more capable devices. With these new systems now out in the wild, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect back on the past eight years of PS3 and Xbox 360, my experiences with some memorable titles and what I’ve learned most from the games that, in my mind, defined the generation.

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ngp_prequel

Crafting original stories for games is probably not a simple task, especially if you’re working with established characters. It can be easy to fall back on something like, say, a prequel story. This might be significantly easier in the long run, yet also may expose an inherent flaw when it comes to creating prequel video games: you have to worry about it from both a story and gameplay perspective. Having to evolve the gameplay while containing the story to certain specifics makes for a difficult balance or a game that, at the end of the day, isn’t much of an improvement over its predecessors.

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