Gazing into the crystal ball
Hope everyone had a good time ringing in the new year and didn't wake up the next day regretting anything, at least not too much.
For the 1/1 Sunday's Arts section, my editor wanted to put together a "what to expect in 2006" feature. Thus the article below, where I read the tea leaves and try to figure out what everyone's gonna be buzzing about in 06. As you might imagine, my picks are pretty obvious.
Happy 2006 everybody.
What awaits the world of video games this year? Oh, just a little device called the PlayStation 3.
Sony will release its new, next-generation console. Sony is saying spring, but I’m guessing it won’t hit stores until late summer.
Official release date aside, the arrival of the PS3 will easily be the most significant gaming event of this year. Many consumers are no doubt foregoing a purchase of the Xbox 360 to see what this system has in store. It will be interesting to watch how the two industry giants, Microsoft and Sony, slug it out to garner the top spot in the console food chain.
But that’s not all. Nintendo also plans on releasing its next-gen system, being billed as Revolution, later this year.
Eschewing Microsoft’s and Sony’s high-tech approach for a path less taken, Revolution features a wireless controller shaped like a TV remote that responds directly to your wrist and hand movements. Move your wrist from left to right and the game you’re playing responds accordingly.
Such a design seems filled with heretofore unimagined possibilities. But will such a unique console catch the imagination of the nongaming public as Nintendo hopes? If the company can garner enough solid software, not only from its developers but also from respected third parties, then the Revolution might surprise everyone in the same way that the DS did.
On the political front, expect to see more and more anti-game legislation appear on the books. Laws such as the ones in California and Illinois are just the tip of the iceberg. And don’t be surprised if the federal government decides to get in on the act with such senators as Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman jumping on the bandwagon. It remains to be seen if the industry can adequately defend itself.
Of course, there will also be games. Lots and lots of games. Some notable titles are:
"Electroplankton" — This rather unusual game for the Nintendo DS has players making music by interacting with a variety of virtual fish. It’s certainly untraditional, but early reports suggest it is quite addictive.
"Starcraft: Ghost" — Finally, after years of delays, the action/stealth spin-off of the popular strategy game is expected to arrive in February.
"Gears of War" — This futuristic action/horror game from the creators of the "Unreal" series could possibly be the system seller for Xbox 360...
"Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion" — ... unless this epic, huger than huge role-playing game decides to take that title instead.
"Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure" — Despite the lengthy title, this graffiti-focused game, where you play a tagger spraying paint in a totalitarian city, shows a good deal of promise.
"The Godfather: The Game" and "Scarface: The World Is Yours" — Can these two titles, based on classic, highly revered films, succeed enough to be held in high regard on their own merit and not endure unwieldy comparisons to their source material? I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but you never know.
"Okami" — Taking a cue from Japanese folk tales, "Okami" puts you in charge of a mythic wolf given the task to restore color to the world. Screenshots suggest a painterly, almost calligraphic look unlike any game out there right now.
"Bully" — In what is likely to be the most controversial game of the year, you play a reform school student who must intimidate or be intimidated. Expect lots of swirlies and Indian burns.
"Final Fantasy XII" — Probably one of the most anticipated sequels of 2006, FFXII features some marked differences from previous games in the series. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends upon how big a fan of the previous games you are.
"The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" — Also known as the GameCube’s swan song, "Princess" forgoes the cartoonish art style of the last Zelda game in favor of a more realistic design. Fans can expect the same high quality of game play, though.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006