Even though I’m just some made-up pig, who now exists even less than she did when she appeared every Monday, or whatever it was, on Teletext’s barely-remembered Digitiser, it doesn’t mean I’ve not spread my gaze over recent gaming developments, like furious butter on a limp slice of digital toast.
Do you know what I hate – and I mean literally hate more than I hate myself? Homogenisation. Yeah, ha ha – isn’t that a funny word… IF YOU’RE 14 YEARS OLD (because it has “genis” in the middle, which sounds like a mash-up between “penis” and “genitals”)? But it’s also a word that applies to the current state of console gaming. Homogenisation seems to have become a philosophy at The Big Two.
CRAPULOUS 4 BILLION
Completely ignoring the Wii U (as most of the buying public seem to do) there’s literally nothing to separate the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Now that Microsoft has stopped trying to pour its Kinect down our throats, like some weird waterboarding experiment, they’re pretty much the same console.
They’ve even given up with the casing design – what happened to consoles looking like some Giger-esque engine component (Mega Drive) or a DJ deck (PlayStation), or something you’d hang from a baby’s crib mobile (SNES)? Once upon a time you could actually get excited about unboxing a console. Now it has all the thrills of unwrapping a new boiler thermostat.
Even the controllers are edging closer together. It’s like – on an aesthetic level at least – the games industry is churning out identikit boybands. It’s skull-splinteringly boring. We get it – you want your console to sit unobtrusively in our living rooms. But it doesn’t. It sits there under the telly, constantly shrieking about how mature and grown-up it is, like some miniature philosophy student who’s just had his first shave.
Oh, sure, let’s all bleat on about the fact that games on the PlayStation 4 look generally a little bit better than the Xbox One. But watch those side-by-side comparison videos they put up on YouTube. Seriously – rip a hole in the gusset of your own awful prejudice and watch them closely. Watch them and ask yourself whether the difference is ever really that stark. Or really worth getting into some sort of pointless faff over. Honestly, does it matter?
Frankly, I even struggle to tell the difference between 30fps and 60fps, or even really see how graphics have improved since the previous generation of machines. And even when I can tell the difference, it’s so slight that I can’t work up the energy to care. For the most part, all these new machines seem to really be able to do is throw more antagonists at the screen. It’s as if George Lucas went even more mental, and re-released the original Star Wars films again – only this time there were 400 identical Darth Vaders in every scene, running around like a flock of hyperactive children.
But oh no – we’re all too scared to say this aren’t we? Buddha forbid we question the wisdom of spending three hundred slurps just to have a few extra dust motes floating around the screen.
I mean, let’s get real here. What has this new generation really given us? On both systems, the Uncanny Valley still seems only incrementally closer to being bridged. Slicing the skin off Kevin Spacey’s sour face and wrapping it around a ventriloquist’s dummy isn’t going to convince anyone you’re watching a real person. NPCs still have that same, stop/start-y, bobble-headed gait that they’ve had for years.
I dunno what I was expecting. I just feel a bit cheated. Not only am I unable to really tell the difference between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, but I can barely tell the difference between them and the 360 and PS3. Surely a new generation was never meant to be like this? Surely it was never meant to boil down to which one has the exclusive rights to Tomb Raider for a bit, or which one upset you the least by not insisting you grant its executives access to a potential live stream of you wandering around with your genis hanging out.
Visually, there’s been nothing I’ve seen thus far on the Xbox 360 and PS4 that has impressed me as much as flying over the sun-licked mountains in GTA V, or the ocean waves in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag (more or less identical across the generations), or the sublime and subtle characterisation in The Last of Us. Maybe I’m expecting too much too soon, but it’s like the console industry has entered its iPhone phase. We’re being tempted to upgrade, where there’s no real compelling reason to do so. At least on a new iPhone you can play all your old games.
God. I hate the people responsible for this rage. I hate those people, and all other people and things equally.
THE VIEWS OF FAT SOW DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT DIGITISER’S OWN.