The lights are on
Sports games will be front and center when the new systems come out, but let’s not get carried away by the hype.
I’ve been bamboozled by my fair share of console launches. In previous console generations I got so caught up in the glitz and the newness of the moment that I lost sight of whether the games were actually any good. I don’t intend to this time around, and I hope you don’t either.
Here’s a list of some of things I would like to see in next-gen sports games – along with a list of things I think will be the smoke and mirrors features that developers will try and sell you on.
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Graphics: Good graphics for a new system are a given. I don’t want to hear about how detailed the players are, because if that’s the main selling point, then the game hasn’t done enough to advance the genre forward.
Online: In an age when online services like Xbox Live are evolving platforms that exist regardless of the system, it’s not a huge feat to have your game always connected. Even in this generation, games like Need for Speed: Most Wanted are constantly using your game data in myriad ways.
Peripheral Support: While all the peripherals – whether that’s Kinect, Move, or even the Wii U GamePad – could be more integrated into the gameplay experience better when appropriate, I don’t see any of them being germane to the sports genre in a meaningful way. I think it’s a dead-end and a distraction for developers’ time and resources, not a signal of next-gen gaming.
The Numbers Game: When these next-gen sports games come out, there are going to be a lot of numbers thrown around. How many polygons or animations a title has will be boasted from the rooftops, and while they might be indications of quality, let’s not get caught up in the window dressing.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE
Full Feature Sets: Given that the new systems will certainly be powerful and disc space will be adequate, there’s no excuse to put out a next-gen sports title that lacks features. The debacle that was Madden NFL 06 for the current generation should never be repeated or excused. Getting features transferred over to the new games is a question of time and money, but seeing as how we’ve seen these systems coming from a long ways away, our games’ feature sets shouldn’t be gimped.
Smarter AI: I would love it if the power of the new systems could be dedicated to improve the behavioral artificial intelligence of the non-player-controlled players. Getting AI people in games to act like real humans is a tall order, however, and it's a problem that some developers think won’t be solved any time soon.
Improved Physics: Any increases in processing power should lead to more powerful game engines capable of more accurate detections of collision and the depiction of the results. The current-generation of systems do this to mixed results, so hopefully we’ll see some progress with the new platforms.
Screenshots from Madden NFL 13
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