"Take us back to the glory days", "bring back the Golden Age", they say. No one can deny the effect of nostalgia and the special place in our hearts for titles from eras long gone - I'll happily admit that many titles on the SNES/N64/PS2 hold a special and irreplaceable place in my heart. But times have changed, the year is 2012 and the modern era has provided gamers with many new features that previous generations could only dream of. Gamers are very critical people (look at the shtick the once-mighty Capcom are copping over Resident Evil 6), and whilst finding contentedness within what you have can prove to be a very difficult thing, here's five reasons why you should love modern gaming:
It's visually brilliant
Games have become nearly unrecognisable from the pixellated forms that covered our SD screens nearly 12 years ago upon the release of the PS2. While you could say the same for each new iteration of consoles, the point still stands - games have never looked so good. Whether you're playing on a high-end PC or an Xbox or PS3, it's easy to see how far developers have pushed the tech over the last five or so years. Games such as Crysis, Metal Gear Solid 4, Battlefield and Unchartered are all examples of technical and visual brilliance, and with gems such as The Last of Us and The Last Guardian on the way, we certainly haven't seen the best of it yet.
Why get up to go and play with your friends when you can do it all from the comfort of your bedroom? While split-screen gaming is still relevant, it certainly doesn't hold the prevalence that it used to. Kids now can play the latest Call of Duty or Halo and simultaneously talk to their friends while barely having to lift more than a few fingers - whatever you can dream of, these days it's probably available to you.
Video games and online gaming still has its skeptics (namely parents and people who are too ignorant to think otherwise), but there's no denying how much fun it all is. Whether you're playing co-operatively with friends or slogging it out in a multiplayer deathmatch, online-centric titles offer something that'll keep you coming back for more.
Ten years ago, we still had to walk into stores and physically purchase the games we wanted - talk about a chore. Come 2012, it's all up to us - physical copies are still available and are the preferred means of acquiring games, but if you're feeling extra lazy or don't really care, you can do it all with the click of a button.
PlayStation users have the PlayStation Store and Xbox users the Xbox Live Marketplace, two competing structures that virtually do the same thing. Whether you want to purchase the latest games (I'd advise against it - Microsoft and Sony still have no idea how to price their digital games) or take a look at the smorgasbord of independent or classic titles - it's all available on your console.
However, it's Valve's Steam platform for PC users that really sets the benchmark for digital distribution. Steam offers virtually any title you can think of, and not at outrageous prices. There's a huge library of independent games to choose from, with many under $10, and Valve's recent summer sales saw developer collections of titles worth over $300 available for a quarter of the price.
Consoles have more to offer than just games
It may not appeal to some, but there's no denying that there is a huge market out there that utilises entertainment features on their consoles, namely the Xbox 360. Microsoft have recently made a huge push to market the "entertainment" aspect of its console, implementing new features such as YouTube integration and Major League Baseball coverage (though that may not interest many here in Australia). This is on top of the already expansive list of entertainment offerings, such as Foxtel, Movies on Demand, and VEVO.
If that still doesn't interest you, the PS3 allows users to save their music, photos and video to the hard drive, for viewing at any time. I don't know about the rest of you but it's a very nifty feature for watching your favourite TV shows and movies on your TV screen.
Easily the best and simultaneously-worst new feature to be implemented in this generation, downloadable content is seemingly always a talking point within the gaming community. On one hand, we've seen many developers use it brilliantly - look no further than Rockstar with the Lost and Damned and Ballad of Gay Tony expansions for GTA IV, as well as Bethesda with the Broken Steel content for Fallout 3. On the other hand, we've seen giants such as Capcom busted for including their inclusion of on-disc DLC for Street Fighter X Tekken, and allegedly again with recent release Resident Evil 6. Not to mention the array of "pre-order bonuses" developers/publishers are now offering as an incentive to purchase their games early - are we really getting the complete package anymore?
But at the end of the day, we're still receiving more content (albeit at a price) post-purchase. In previous generations, once you purchased the disc/cartridge, that was it. We can argue about the mediocrity of DLC all we like, and whilst some developers and publishers tend to exploit it, the ones who use it right are only offering gamers additional content to continue playing and enjoying the game.
By Jake Galouzis