Eight years. Eight long years of video games, from the Xbox 360's 2005 release to today, the dawn of the next generation. A lot of games came out in eight years.
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There may be no one part of a game that connects to our memories as immediately or intensely as music. Of course we remember a game's music: Those were the melodies that accompanied us on adventures in other worlds, through trials and triumphs, through victory and defeat. A musical score exists outside of visuals and gameplay; it's the closest thing a video game has to a scent.
You can't judge a game by its cover. You can, however, judge a game cover by its cover.
With the growing importance of digital sales and preorders, what's actually on the front of a game box is in many ways becoming less important than it once was, since it's not the main thing driving sales, even for casual buyers.
With this past generation, the most terrifying thing console owners could see was a small red or yellow light that meant their several hundred dollar console was dead. Without a doubt, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are amazingly complex pieces of hardware -- each a powerful computer shoved into a tiny box. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the original versions of these consoles proved to be more than a little prone to overheating.
As we at Kotaku planned out the final couple weeks of our Last-Gen Heroes series, we considered the possibility of a list of the best endings of the generation. "But game endings all suck", Luke said. "Well, except for The Last of Us", I replied. Warning: Spoilers for The Last Of Us ahead!
Video game trailers are all lies, damned lies. If they show us gameplay at all, it's cut together in the most exciting possible way. They're custom-crafted to generate hype, and they have the power to make a lousy game look fantastic. But, well... if they're lies, at least they're occasionally beautiful ones.
I've been playing the Battlefield series since the original game, Battlefield 1942. Any long-time Battlefield player will tell you what makes the series great are the random moments where something happens that you didn't know was possible. But in Battlefield 3, one map let you re-create that moment every match.
Every time a new hardware generation comes around, we hear the same old boasts. More polygons! More effects! Higher resolution! Well, you know what, I don't care about any of that. I want new hardware to improve the way I have to play games, or approach them, and no single game this generation did that more than Dead Rising.
Great characters are usually at their best when they're surprising us. A villain who is purely evil is never as interesting as a villain who sometimes expresses kindness. A killer with a code; a monster with a soft spot for kittens. Yet some video games this past generation just didn't seem to get that -- they pushed us to play purely evil or purely good.
The original PlayStation controller debuted in 1994. The more familiar DualShock was released in 1997. The PlayStation 3 controller you're using today, well into the 21st century, is almost identical to that 1997 design. Let's think about that for a second. It's now 2013, and if you've got a PS3, you're still using a pad whose shape was conceived alongside spring-loaded disc trays and RGB inputs.
You spend time or energy, you gotta get something out of it. Self-improvement. Money, maybe. Experience, at least. This simple idea is so powerful and pervasive that of course games have modelled it -- experience points, levels, and skill trees (otherwise known as role-playing game elements) are things that have been around for a while. But it wasn't until this generation when the ideas overtook nearly every genre.