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

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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

  • Walkman630 - December 31, 2008 5:10 p.m.

    haha nice to see how much things have changed over the years
  • RonnyLive19881 - December 31, 2008 5:15 p.m.

    ^^^^ Gay I hate you guys that claim first. I take it you never one first place in anything during you school/career part of life.
  • Ell223 - December 31, 2008 5:35 p.m.

    Win But no, i hate you ronny can i just add in the internet insult bomb that is "you're a fag" here thanks
  • ELpork - December 31, 2008 7:25 p.m.

    .......2 screen shots......sad.
  • MacGyver1138 - December 31, 2008 7:41 p.m.

    It is pretty funny to see some of the changes. I wonder if the differences will be so vast in another 10 years?
  • Corsair89 - December 31, 2008 8:10 p.m.

    It's funny what we used to consider to be "games" back then. lol. What's not funny is what people call "games" now. I hate you, Wii.
  • georgeguy - December 31, 2008 9:04 p.m.

    wtf double post (now triple) again? the spam blocker screwed up
  • phoenix_wings - December 31, 2008 9:21 p.m.

    I remember I begged my parents for both a Playstation and a Game Boy. I ended up with an N64. I agree with Skull Splitter and Corsair89 too. It's just too bad that this couldn't have happened a few years ago, that way the sting and hurt of being abandoned by essentially a parent, a teacher, a friend, would have worn off by now.
  • fionnoh - December 31, 2008 9:34 p.m.

    sure back then we had shitty graphics, no online and everything was the size of your head. but back then we didn't have annoying little 13 year olds complaining about other consoles with actual hatred, you'd have sworn the console had raped them as a child!? but hey, you win some you lose some.
  • Thequestion 121 - December 31, 2008 10:01 p.m.

    Wow. It's amazing to see how things have changes by a little or a lot.
  • Life - December 31, 2008 11:32 p.m.

    Hey, that's my Gameboy! Oh, i miss playing Pokemon gold... ;_;
  • Taxtm - December 31, 2008 11:34 p.m.

    HAHAHAHA!!!! It's true! They (Nintendo) went from awesome games like Ocarina of time 10 years ago, to the Imaginary Baby Changing game for the ds my little sister got for Christmas. What the heck, Nintendo?!? Where did the brains at headquarters that gave us gaming gold go off to?
  • air3z - January 1, 2009 1:31 a.m.

    graphics have changed dramacticly
  • bluetears91 - January 1, 2009 5:39 a.m.

    I want my sega. I used to play the lion king on it and had so much fun. shit that was 12 years ago. lol. i was only 6. lol wow. lol
  • WeirdJamFace - January 1, 2009 12:06 p.m.

    hey.. remember the Sega CD well.. i reckon that in another 10 years we are gonna have something like that... except it doesn't totally suck. Or we just have graphics that are nearly impossible to distinquish between real-life and games. WHO AGREES?!?!?!????!!!??
  • elmatto26 - January 1, 2009 11:48 p.m.

    I still have all my ps1 games and the console and thay all work the same as they did in 98
  • rybell - January 1, 2009 11:51 p.m.

    wow i remember playing unreal tournaments. back then those graphics were amazing
  • ssj4raditz - January 2, 2009 12:30 a.m.

    Duke Nukem Forever needs to come out... *cries*
  • Kilr - January 2, 2009 3:43 a.m.

    yeah, i know. I remember when the N64 was the coolest thing ever Its hard to imagine that in 10 years people will look back on gears of war and halo 3 and say that those graphics suck
  • crazyqazqaz - January 2, 2009 9:59 a.m.

    Brilliant artical G.R.!! I remember my gameboy and pokemon gold (an awesome game!!). LOL!!

Showing 1-20 of 58 comments

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