The latest offerings from the PlayStation State of Play and Nintendo Direct showcases this year have been and gone. Both events had their merits throughout, but two familiar faces that are now dominating the post-show conversation are Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy 7. And if you'd have told 11-year-old me that back in 1997, I don't think I'd have believed you.
Both games stole their respective shows yesterday for different reasons – which we'll explore in greater detail later on – but the fact stands that the biggest buzz to come from two of the most prominent game companies yesterday derived from ideas born last century.
We're in the throes of a horror genre renaissance at the moment, with everything from Resident Evil 4 to Dead Space and System Shock having already received remake treatment earlier this year; with Silent Hill 2 and Alone in the Dark perched on the horizon for more of the same. Metal Gear Solid 3 is in-line for a long-anticipated revitalization, and with Konami also working on remastering classic JRPG offerings, Suikoden and Suikoden 2, both of which are due next year, this really feels like a golden age inspired by the Golden Age.
Back to the future
In essence, the most exciting Nintendo and Sony showcase standouts were last century's ideas, and I think that's amazing. To see Lara Croft bounding around familiar but reworked environments on Nintendo's flagship handheld filled my stomach with butterflies. Sprinting past spike traps, flying over chasms on a snowmobile, and being hunted by that tyrannosaurus rex – it all looked fantastic.
Having been around during the dawn of Tomb Raider – from Lara's first Natla-battling adventure in pursuit of the Scion, to globetrotting in search of the Dagger of Xian in its sequel, and infiltrating Area 51 in number three – I'm surely among the nostalgia-lapping target audience here, but the thought of introducing my two young children to games that shaped such a big part of my own childhood is especially exciting as a parent as well.
Truth be told, I can't remember the last time I played any of these games either. I enjoyed the Tomb Raider reboot series from 2013 onwards, but I don't think I've revisited the original since 2007's tenth-year anniversary remake; and I don't think I've played Tomb Raider 2 or 3 since launch in '97 and '98 respectively. Which, again, only adds to the excitement.
As for Final Fantasy 7, the next outing of its modern day retelling was always likely to round-off Sony's latest State of Play showcase, but Rebirth wasted no time in sweeping us off our feet all the same. The decision to split the story into a number of different parts was, and continues to be, controversial – but flashes of the big canon at Junon Harbour, the parade on the central thoroughfare of the same seaside town, the cable car ride to the Gold Saucer, Cait Sith, Vincent, Zack, Red 13's hometown of Cosmo Canyon, Bugenhagen, mention of Emerald and Ruby Weapon, that big swamp serpent that Sephiroth makes light work of… deep breath… it was a lot.
It was also brilliant. I was among the folk put off by the remake's multi-part structure, and so while I have part one downloaded on my PS5 right (purchased on PS4 last generation), it was my intention to wait until all parts became available, before I played in one singular playthrough. Now, however, it's my plan to jump in straight away. I'm totally sold on what Square Enix showed off at the latest State of Play, and now can't wait to reunite with another set of characters who've played such an important role in my life over the last 26 years.
If nothing else, the latest Nintendo Direct and PlayStation State of Play showcases have underlined just how bright the future is for video games. When shows like this get it right, this is often the lasting impression among would-be players. This time, however, it's the past that's informing the future – now, in this particular instance, more than ever. And for players of a certain vintage like myself, with a new generation of players to inspire and influence, that's really exciting.
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