Spring cleaning for winter 2015

Another year has gone by, much gin and microbrewery ale was consumed, games were played from dawn to dusk, and the unseasonable warmth has given way to a deep freeze. Happy New Year, everyone.

I&rsquo;m currently convinced that the reason why the combined forces of the White Witch from <em>Narnia</em> and Elsa from <em>Frozen </em>have brought <em>Day After Tommorrow </em>style coldness upon us was because of the terrible year that 2014 had been for the gaming community. It was a mediocre year at best, providing disappointing games and some incredibly anti-consumer moves from publishers.&nbsp; After making gamers happy, publisher shave a new year to get better.

I&rsquo;m inclined to disregard these problems as the awkward adolescent phase of the current console generation.

But this also means there are varying topics that will grace this column over this coming term: UbiSoft&rsquo;s failure to deliver on its games coupled with their hostility to the reviewer community; the encroaching microtransactions in the AAA games; the overhyping of series that fails to deliver, such as <em>Watch Dogs</em> and <em>Destiny</em>; the diluting of a franchise such as <em>Dungeon Keeper</em> into a shallow, free-to-play, money-making racket, and of course, the messy GamerGate issues of gender equality and review of integrity. These problems will likely carry over into future columns: the industry has some issues right now.

With the post-holiday lull in game releases, coupled with the massive amount of games that I&rsquo;ve yet to cover in this column, there will be plenty to catch up on over this first half of the term. <em>Shadow of Mordor</em>, <em>Mario Kart 8</em>, <em>Smash Bros</em>. for <em>Wii U</em> and <em>Pokemon</em> <em>Omega Ruby</em> and <em>Alpha Sapphire</em>&nbsp; were just missed during the exam season of last term and may find their way into future entries. Hell, I&rsquo;m just now at the end of the excellent and massive <em>Dragon Age: Inquisition</em>, something that I will assuredly cover at a later date.

And the indie scene, while remaining vague on exactly how&nbsp; independent&rsquo; you can consider them, were a powerful force. Indie darlings such as the top down RPG <em>Divinity: Original Sin</em> and the Super Nintendo throwback <em>Shovel Knight</em> stand tall next to the big-budget games that populated the Top 10 of 2014 lists in the industry.

Pickings are slim after the holiday deluge of games, though there are a few standouts to look forward to. I know at least one <em>Dark Souls</em> fanatic who is waiting with bated breath and specifically bought a PS4 for spiritual successor Bloodborne, as well as the enhanced re-release <em>Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin</em>. <em>Dying Light</em> looks to be a more survival- and traversal heavy take on the zombie apocalypse genre. Former LucasArts darling <em>Grim Fandango</em> will finally get a remaster. While Nintendo is mum on specifics, we should see <em>Kirby and the Rainbow Curse</em>, <em>Yoshi&rsquo;s Wooly World</em> and <em>Mario Maker</em> some time soon.

It&rsquo;s a ponderous time for the industry. Mistakes have been made, and developers and publishers will be looking at their failures, hopefully trying to solve their problems. Consumers and critics alike are fed up with the problems that plagued 2014, questioning whether the last year was in fact the worst year gaming has ever had.

One can only hope that things can get better. And we&rsquo;ve got a whole year ahead of us. At this point last generation we were finally seeing games that would define the generation, such as <em>BioShock</em>, <em>Modern Warfare</em> and the original <em>Assassins&rsquo; Creed</em>. Who knows what this coming year will bring, especially with the indie scene able to compete with the big companies. We&rsquo;re bound to see something that will change the way we look at games. That encourages me far more than all the controversy we have behind us.


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