Thursday, August 16, 2012

When Less is More

The Secret World is a small game. I’m sorry but it is, when held up against The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2, it’s found wanting with regards to square mileage. However, what Secret World does have packs a punch far beyond its relative size. Like Mike Tyson in the heavy weight division, it is a game that is not to be dismissed. If Secret World has impressed me at all, and it has in many categories; it has impressed me in its ability to do a lot with very little. It packs a wallop of a punch emotionally, not the least because its simplicity in execution refuses to drown out the good stuff. 

I loved The Old Republic, still do, but I was always left with that slightly bitter aftertaste because it wasn’t Mass Effect Online. It was especially apparent after playing ME 3 that it didn’t have the same emotional connect. I know five years from now, as an MMO TOR will likely be highly remembered, years and years of characters and content would make TOR an MMO to remember; I can see that happening so clearly that I won’t be surprised when it finally happens.

Funcom is facing financial difficulties, not dissimilar to many a developer/publisher in recent years in the industry. I fear that the message of TSW will be lost. If they fail, the idea that much can be done with very little is an important one for the industry as big budget AAA titles continue to surpass the hundred million dollar mark on both single player and multiplayer titles. If The Old Republic failed anywhere in my opinion it was that it was so focused on the bigger and better it forget the hard bitter lessons of its yesteryears. While other franchises like Final Fantasy were going big, Bioware always worked best by focusing on the small interesting relationships of hero and companion, everything else was just the icing on the cake.

Games like Braid, Deadlight, Dust: Elysian Tail, and Secret World recently among many others have shown not only that games can be smaller and still relevant, but that those games can be celebrated for what they are instead of remembered for what they aren’t. A lot of titles are coming down the pipeline as we come to the big gaming revenue months of October and November and beyond, for every Halo, Call of Duty, and Assassins Creed, there are smaller games that can pack a big punch. It would be a shame if we missed out because of what they were not, rather than the great things they were.

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