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1998 vs 2008: How has gaming changed in 10 years?

 
 

There’s no more tiring remark than, “Oh, Lara – she’s such a British institution.” Guess what? It’s just as well she isn’t anymore, because moving to San Francisco’s Crystal Dynamics was the best thing to happen to her in a decade. Gone were the plastic “assets”, the grid-based movement system, dodgy camera (well, almost), and stagnant game mechanics.

Gone too was the memory of The Angel Of Darkness, the catastrophic sixth instalment that all but killed the series. Instead came all the technical showmanship and quality production you’d expect from the maker of Soul Reaver, both in sequels Legend and Underworld. God bless America.

 

 

For the small price of your house, kidneys and healthiest family member, you could rent an ISDN line ten years ago, the internet’s equivalent of a magic beanstalk. You could download demos you’d normally buy on disc, use the term “superhighway” and sound only half-stupid, and play Quake II against people in far-flung lands. Oh, how far we’ve come.

Now, for little more than pocket change, you can digest all the ignorance and bile in the “civilised” world, then add the authors to your “friends list” so you can play them at videogames. And you can read these words, of course, you lucky, hateful bastards.


A console? In your pocket? With comparable sound and visuals to a real game? That’s quite something. How about you go play on your miracle machine and we’ll call the ambulance? In a year that saw the Game Boy Color trounce the Neo Geo Pocket, the idea of PlayStation-perfect Ridge Racer seemed like crazy talk.

There’d been the PC Engine GT, with its superb ports of R-Type and Street Fighter II – but at what cost? Six AA batteries for three hours of play, that’s what. No one in ’98 could have imagined God Of War, let alone Chains Of Olympus. And a game that involves stabbing things with a pen that doesn’t require your stepbrother and a trip to the hospital? Get outta here.

 

 

The launch of Unreal in 1998 was as much a milestone as Super Mario 64. 3D like this, with lights and shadows that weren’t painted on, in high-resolution and smooth as silk, was like something out of a Hollywood movie. An Eighties movie starring talking cereal boxes, perhaps, but that’s not the point.

Today, after years that have seen Half-Life and Oblivion, the engine behind Unreal has evolved to power dozens of AAA titles, from Bioshock and Stranglehold to Mirror’s Edge and Splinter Cell. The Unreal brand, meanwhile, has been dwarfed by Epic’s Gears Of War, though the company itself remains as tight-knit a family as ever.

 

 

Despite his best efforts, Hideo Kojima failed in his attempts to make a single line of dialogue last ten years. He did come close, though, and few games reflect the changing times better than his action stealth epic. The coming of Splinter Cell, Gears Of War, and games like Call Of Duty 4 have all fed into its philosophy and design, giving its characters – God help us – even more to talk about.

And while its looks have evolved to near movie-quality in some respects, the stubborn tenets of the stealth genre, together with its voice actors’ stilted deliveries, ensure that the whole thing looks somehow familiar. It just goes to show that some things, no matter the technology, never change.



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58 comments

  • brickman409 - March 17, 2009 3:09 a.m.

    compare 88 to 98
  • first-riot - January 5, 2009 11:50 p.m.

    i cant believe that all those games was the best back then.
  • ebikes6 - January 5, 2009 2:21 a.m.

    whos ever heard of body harvest
  • Mola123 - January 4, 2009 7:49 p.m.

    I totally agree with Wizrai, a lot of the gamers have gotten worse. I have a 360, but i still like the PS3. (but i think most of us are in agreement...untill Madworld, the wii will not have a good hardcore game)
  • Mackster-901 - January 4, 2009 12:06 a.m.

    Playstations have always been the best apart frm sega megadrive(which was legendary) but i agree dat da ps3 cost 2 much and if it was cheaper it will again b the best console out at da mo
  • TractorBoy21 - January 2, 2009 10:06 p.m.

    I don't mean to be a huge prat, cos in all honesty, i loved the article, but doesn't the iPod touch count as a handheld?
  • animeman - January 2, 2009 4:54 p.m.

    in another 10 years maby we will acually have the technology to be put in the game.
  • zeero - January 2, 2009 3:26 p.m.

    maaan the MGS brings back memories!
  • dinnerdog - January 2, 2009 11:35 a.m.

    Yes graphics have come a long way but, if anything, games are far less inventive. Technological restrictions demand games designers and programmers to innovate in other areas; polished HD graphics tend to mask the fact you're playing a unoriginal, rehahsed version of something else. Take GTA for example; the game structure is basically the same the original top-down version, and in my eyes, in no less enjoyable than the current iteration. Just prettier and online. If Rockstar want to rehash something though, I'd give a new version of Body Harvest my total support!
  • Shellghost - January 2, 2009 8:54 a.m.

    with the MGS part, personaly im glad that things never changed because to me MGS1 was the best game in the series. @NYFanatic in 10 years we will probly have contact lenses that project the gaming world directly into your eyes (AHHH! The pain!!!)
  • Defguru7777 - January 2, 2009 4:34 a.m.

    What a Long Strange Trip it's Been
  • iluvmyDS - January 1, 2009 7:33 p.m.

    Wow I can't believe it still. I'm seen so much happen to gaming in my 18 years on this planet.
  • bron1417 - January 1, 2009 6:56 p.m.

    man how times have changed.
  • NelosAngelos - January 1, 2009 6:51 p.m.

    Ah the N64...hours I spent on Mario and Super Smash Bros. And Body Harvest, holy shit that's a blast from the past.
  • JosephCh - January 1, 2009 6:29 p.m.

    OMG IT'S SONICTHEHEDGEHOG HE'S SO FAST AND COOL AND AWESOME AND FAST CAN I HAVE ONE MOOOMMYYYY?!?! *grumble*
  • Xplosive59 - January 1, 2009 3:29 p.m.

    @ NYFanatic i completely agree with u cause whenever the writer had anything to say about ps3 it was like "Ps3 sucks" seriously it doesnt im not a fanboy but it has great games such as MGS4 and resistance 2 and some great ones coming out next year and all Xbox 360 has is tons of money which is used to buy everyone out ........... and Nintendo have uh 3 year old girls and people that could die any second
  • key0blade - January 1, 2009 3:06 p.m.

    Alot's changed over the ages
  • Rampage911 - January 1, 2009 7:36 a.m.

    old days of pokemon in the evening, this takes me back.
  • NYfanatic - January 1, 2009 3:01 a.m.

    Wow I see some fanboy with this writer Sony has gone from brand dominator to: “You’re not getting one of those, Timothy, it’s too expensive and the games are all on that other one Why does game writers have to be fanboys to?
  • georgeguy - December 31, 2008 9:03 p.m.

    agreeing with skull splitter and corsair89 here

Showing 1-20 of 58 comments

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