Do videogames suck now or am I just getting older?

Deus Ex is my favorite computer game of all time, and quite possibly the last one I was truly excited to play. That having been said,

To a limited extent, perhaps. Let’s not forget that the game followed the same basic storyline no matter what you did, to the point that the only factor in which of the three endings you received was which decision you made at the conclusion of the very last level.

Within a level, gameplay-wise, there was a ton of freedom; you could accomplish your missions and sidequest goals in many different ways. But on a larger scale? Eh, things were pretty linear.

You’re the outlier?

Bioshock had an excellent and immersive story and was probably my favourite game of last year.

While it’s true that a lot of shooter games are “On Rails”, have you tried Far Cry and Far Cry 2? They’re open-ended shooters (Far Cry 2 perhaps less so than *Far Cry[/i).

The focus on games at the moment is the story- it’s like being in a movie, where you can interact with the other actors. There’s a “Script” you have to work with, and there are “sets”, but otherwise, you can decide how you want things to play out. Half Life 2 was a good example of that. Bioshock is another.

I’m honestly not sure what sort of games you want to play, to be honest. I hate 2D Platform Games and am glad that we’re pretty well done with them, FWIW.

Dude, there’s a guy on another messageboard I go to that totally has a boner for anything Far Cry.

I really like Far Cry 2- it’s like someone took one of my favourite novels (Frederick Forsyth’s The Dogs of War), combined it with the film Blood Diamond, and said “Oh, before you go, here’s a flamethrower. Have fun!”

There’s a lot of unrealised potential in that game, IMHO. But until Fallout 3 was released I spent far too much time destabilising a third-world African country and not nearly enough time doing productive things like housework or finding a more meaningful job… :wink:

Games fill niches these days. Want open ended? Far Cry 2 was geared towards that demographic. Want to be able to define your own goals and carry a war instead of a sequence of battles? Here’s a copy of Medieval 2: Total War and I hope you meant that, because it’s the only way you play it. Want an immersive experience that’s out of the ordinary? Your plane just crashed in the 1930s and, oh, mind the tin cans. And welcome to Bioshock.

Do you want some seriously innovative and well presented new gamplay mechanics in a 2D environment? Here’s Braid. It likes to fuck with the fourth dimension in four layers of spatial thinking. Want realistic one-bullet firefights? I’ve got a pre-order of Operation Flashpoint 2 with your name on it. Want funny? Here’s another copy of Portal. Want fairytale? I’ve got your Fable 2 right here.

Do you want a fresh feature implemented in a way you’ve never seen before? I hope you haven’t lost your voice, because in Tom Clancy’s End War you’re going to need it; your entire army is controlled by your voice. Want deep? Dwarf Fortress is free. Want pure, indie gameplay? Mount & Blade just hit stores. Want over the top? Psychonauts contains a secret agent masquerading as a housewife by wearing an apron, a wig and talking disjointedly about pies.

None of the games above are made before 2000. Hell, 90% of them are less than three years old.

I grew up with gaming from the C64 on. When I was what, 10, I was asked by my personal Military Advisor to get ready for a briefing on the Brotherhood of NOD’s military activities in the original Command & Conquer. By the time I turned 11, I’d stared down the Zergs time and time again. I’ve got all the stars in Super Mario 64, I can quote Fallout 1 & 2 from cover to cover, I could play through Deus Ex blindfolded.

But games have never been better. The only thing that has been seriously fucked over the last decade is sequels. Unplanned or conditional sequels are a bad idea, period. But this has been true for decades, if not centuries, accross all medias. Dune? Every book beyond the first pretty much blew chunks. Narnia? A conditional ditto. Most classical composers? Had two great pieces in them. Led Zeplin? Rocks way less hard. World War 2? Way worse than the first one. And so on.

This decade has had it’s plenty of minor and major revolutions and epiphanies of gaming. Sequels and follow-ups? Not so much. But I’ll put the experience of, say, Psychonauts against, say, Super Mario 64 any day. Fallout 1? Still unmatched in its genre, but we haven’t made games in that style since 2001. Deus Ex? I’d put it side by side against Bioshock, any day. Command & Conquer? Matched and surpassed by every single game in the Total War series. And so on.

Psst. Fallout 1 was a sequel. And C&C was a copy of another game that was also a sequel.
Burnout 3 was a major improvement over Burnout 1 and 2. Burnout Paradise is just gorgeous.
GTA3 was a sequel. As are the new Sam and Maxes.

No it wasn’t.

It was a spiritual successor to Wasteland, but had a completely different timeline. And it, along with FO2 and FO3, took place in an alternate universe. Wasteland took place in the universe as we know it, but was set in the future of that universe. A future that didn’t come to pass. (The game was released in 1987. I believe WWIII hit 1998, but I don’t remember. It’s been a while since I last played.)

The Fallouts took place in a universe that branched from ours in the 1950’s. Culturally, they never left the 1950’s. Technologically, they were far advanced of us.

As opposed to all the other games where the sequels follow the in game continuity exactly. Nice to know that virtually every Zelda game since Link’s Adventure aren’t sequels to The Legend of Zelda.

Fallout would have been titled Wasteland 2 if Interplay had been able to get the rights to the name back from EA (ignoring the existence of Fountain of Dreams, of course, as everyone should). That was the first name I heard referenced for it back when they were making it using GURPS. It’s from the same company, using the same themes, was developed as a sequel, and they had to change the title mid-development because of licensing issues. It’s a sequel in every sense except the one that would have gotten Interplay sued.

Fallout was the “spiritual” sequel to Wasteland much as Bioshock is the spiritual sequel to System Shock 2 but neither one of them are actual sequels.

I don’t think video games suck these days and, as others have mentioned, I think they’re obviously better than they’ve ever been. However I do think that even though games are better in many ways a lot of them tend to lack the “gee whiz” factor.

I cut my video game teeth on the Atari 2600 but didn’t really discover the gee whiz factor until Doom. So what’s the gee whiz factor? When a game comes along that seems to offer something a little different or is simply designed so well that it causes me to think “gee whiz, what a great game” then it has the gee whiz factor. Doom II had the gee whiz factor and then Duke Nukem 3D. There were other FPS released afterward but for me none of them really had a gee whiz factor even though they were technically superior to Doom and Duke Nukem. The next FPS that had the gee whiz factor for me was Half-Life.

A lot of times modern games aren’t giving me the gee whiz factor. Sometimes it does. Grand Theft Auto 3 is certainly an example of the gee whiz factor at work.

Sure, games like Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country, Harvest Moon, etc. were simple and great (yea, I could definitely sit down with them right now and play for hours), but in no way, shape or form are video games on the downswing now. The biggest plus I see these days with next-gen systems is the ability to play virtually every game online.

I loved the King’s Quest games from a few years ago. They ran well on low powered computers with mediocre video cards and were mentally challenging (of sorts).
Then there was Myst and Aura but after that, they leave me feeling passed up by the game designers.

Friend working for SJG has played that version, too. Only version of Fallout he’s ever played.
I consider a game a sequel if it follows a reasonable variant of theme and setting and was generally conceptualized as such. Eg, Final Fantasy II is not a literal sequel to Final Fantasy I, but it is a spiritual sequel.
Basically, if it started off as ‘Let’s make another…’, I count it.

I work in the video games industry and you would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t be) at how many developers haven’t even played the games that have been mentioned.

For example, the team I was working on wanted some internal feedback on the game we were making, so we had a company-wide “fun day” that allowed the other teams to play through our game. Part of the “fun day” was that they had to fill out a questionnaire detailing their experiences with the game. One of the questionnaire’s sections deals with their thoughts on other games in the genre and I was completely blown away with how many people had not played games like Fallout or Baldur’s Gate (we are an RPG house).

I wouldn’t say that video games are declining, but they are definitely changing - partly because of increased focus on graphics and partly because the audience (including the developers themselves) has shifted so much toward the FPS market. This is, of course, IMHO.

Actualy, I have to agree with the Op, partly. Some games are getting better, but so many of them get so caught up in what they’re doing they neglect either the Big Picture (the basic gameplay), or they fail to polish off the little things that make the difference.

But let’s also look at I. It’s not a huge game, really, though it is fun and impressive. But why don’t they do things like that anymore? Even *Deus Ex 2 *backed down, and we really haven’t had anything like it since. But not only was it a sleeper hit, it became a legend. We should have three similar series by now, and the gameplay innovations spread throughout the industry. Likewise Morrowind. Instead, we just plain don’t.

Instead, a lot of companies are backing off and pouring cash into graphics. This is expensive, not really worth it, and largely does little except to wow the idiot game reviewers. But it’s safe, and you can probably make your money back, even if it’s not a really good overall investment. You don’t have to change or expand the basic game.

That said, modern games are mostly OK. They’re just not realy hitting the peak of greatness that they arguably should. We see more and more bugs that should have been tested out. We actually see less versatile gameplay, because they tend to throw in elements they don’t thoroughly consider (half-assed sneaking elements, anyone?) The games are still decent, but they could be so much better.

Some genres could probably be expanded, like RPG’s, but MMORPG’s are sucking up all the time and money.

Games “on rails” are more a thing of the past than of the present. The Grand Theft Auto series, which you might dislike for the content or style or whatever, is more open ended than almost any of the games before it.

Fallout was not perfected with the 3rd installment, but nobody can reasonably say it “sucks”, even compared to earlier fallout games. It’s an amazing game every bit as fun as Super Metroid (which was not particularly innovative, but was indeed super-duper fun) but lasts a hundred times as long.

Nothing even close to World of Warcraft existed in the gaming age you described in your first post. Love it or hate it, nobody can reasonably say it’s a bad game. The Halo series is miles ahead of anything Unreal did, with at least two “holy shit!” moments in each title having the same impact that moment in unreal did on you.

Mass Effect is another great recent game. The Civilization series has gotten better with time. The Wii has made some freaking COOL innovations with the Wii-mote controller, and with brand new game concepts that might suck now, but they suck in the way that wolfenstein sucked, because it’s brand new and we’re not sure how to design games like these yet.

It’s just nostalgia talking if you think games suck today. Plenty of games do indeed suck, but if you can compare games like Super Mario Galaxy unfavorably to games like Super Mario Brothers 3, you’re just letting your age speak for you. Game concepts and design are just as solid now as they ever have been, and in lots of cases the art of game design is being improved.

Yes, it’s true there are a lot of crappy games out there. But then again, there always were. Are we talking about the quality of the so-called “good” games has gone down?

I’m a gamer that plays perhaps 3-4 games a year. Mostly, they are games that are pretty epic in size, or have immense replay value. I’m playing Fallout 3 right now, and upon its completion (which could take another two months), I plan on purchasing Bioshock. Of course, I have a few games that I can play when a group of friends come over for mindless fun that I wouldn’t play normally (Sega Superstars Tennis in this case), but I feel that the “good” games of today that have high expectations are on par with the classics.

Oh, and I have a PS3, and I do really feel quite bad for my Wii-owner friends. Are there any “epic” games scheduled to come out for that platform? Or will most games be designed for good, clean American fun?

That’s not a very solid argument. Games are bigger, but have comparatively the same number of bugs in them. The biggest titles of the time period you’re talking about had silly bugs. Final Fantasy 3 had more bugs in it than any of the Grand Theft Auto games starting with Vice City.

The platform doesn’t seem to attract epic games, but some seriously big titles have come out for it. Super Mario Galaxy is probably the biggest one that isn’t found on any other consoles.