The Slim Opinion: A roundtable discussion on hot gaming topics

Welcome to the second edition of The Slim Opinion – a roundtable discussion on hot gaming topics. This week, our staff writers wonder if a fourth Halo would be welcome, muse over the Wii U and try to figure out why one side of their socks always goes missing.

Well, maybe nobody can answer that last one. For now though, over to our panel…

Is there any need for another Halo trilogy?

Halo

Please don't tell me I have to do this for another three games.

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad: Ahaha, oh dear I’ve had quite a lot of these comments from some of my friends recently. I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a Halofanboy, I’ve played the games, I’ve read most of the books, I’ve watched the animes! Sorry!

I’m not going to sit here and start abusing other shoot-em-ups for being inferior though, I have just always really enjoyed the Halo franchise more!

The story (whilst being precious little more than ‘Agghh, aliens! Quick, super soldiers!’) has kept me entertained more than most of the stereotypical grey/brown first person shooters and the gameplay has always teetered nicely between funhouse shooter ala Painkiller and hardcore FPS ala Call of Duty

I think from a fans point of view that another Halo trilogy won’t hurt the franchise unless it’s exactly like the previous trilogy; I think that 343 Industries and Microsoft need to brainstorm and think up some new ideas because if I have to fight re-skinned versions of Elites and Grunts for another three Halo games then I’m out!

That being said, the new Halo trilogy will coincide nicely with Microsoft’s new Xbox Console, which we assume will be confirmed or at least rumoured in the next year or so, much like the transition between regular Xbox and the 360 flavour of Xbox. Microsoft (intentionally or not) released the first two Halo‘s on the Original Xbox and the third Halo game on the 360. Granted, it was two years after the 360’s release, but I still know more than a few people who bought a 360 just to play the latest Halo.
In a nutshell, I’m excited but I fear that we’re going to start treading on the Activision path soon if the franchise does not do something different.

Oh, and nobody include The Flood in this trilogy, and I mean nobody.

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com: I was never really a fan of Halo, I just couldn’t get into it for some reason. Probably because I was crap at it. Nevertheless, I respect it’s heritage and legacy. It’s a fine trilogy that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the classic all-time video games. But for the love of everything pure and good and soft and fluffy, leave it alone for a minute.

Let the trilogy lie for a while. Like forever (I jest). Let it build up a proper legacy by actually leaving it be so that people are genuinely excited in ten years time when a new Halo is announced. Does that sound too romantic? Shucks.

Who am I kidding, like Call Of Duty, if a game has the word ‘Halo‘ in it, it’ll sell, no matter when it comes out. Roll on the fourth installment, I’m going somewhere to sulk.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com: Is there a need for another Halo Trilogy? No. Do I mind that another one is being made? Also no. There certainly isn’t a “need” for a brand new series, but you won’t see me complaining about more Halo. At the end of the first trilogy, it was perfectly clear that the story wasn’t over, even if you didn’t see the secret scene at the end. There was clearly more going on in that universe that we weren’t being told about. I love Halo, I always have, and I have faith that 343 Industries can do a good job with the series; they’ve certainly proved themselves so far. So no, there isn’t a “need” for a new Halo series, but I will certainly enjoy seeing the story continue, and hopefully finally learn something about those mysterious Forerunners.

Charles D. “NoSkill McGrill”, SlimGamer.com: Bungie didn’t seem to think there was, so why does Microsoft? Is it purely because they see dollar signs in their eyes? All kidding aside, the Halo franchise has been loved by gamers since the original Xbox, and since fans continue to spend lots of hours playing Halo titles, someone is going to keep making them.

The only fear, we could possibly have, is for this new trilogy to pull a Star Wars and upset fans of the original trilogy. A different development team, than the one that worked on Halo 1 through 3, is working on the upcoming titles, so we may be in for a treat with fresh ideas and story lines. On the other hand, given the saturation of Halo games in the industry, there’s always the possibility that the franchise could get run into the ground if the community doesn’t like where the series is going.

Do you support all of the HD remakes being released?

HD Ready

...or not.

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad: Yes!, Next!…oh okay, fine!

Yes I do, mainly because their HD conversions rather than actual remakes of previous classic titles, there is no real artistic license given with regards to HD conversions so developers cannot change the gameplay or story. They’re basically giving the game a new coat of high definition paint.

But more because they make me realise how much I loved that classic title in the first place. I played Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on Gamecube, which I consider a remake whilst not being a HD one and it made me fall in love with the MGS series all over again. We all have this nostalgic, rose-tinted view of the games we used to play as being these graphically magnificent marvels and works of art when in reality you end up with written dialogue and character models that look like an Action Man that been left in the oven too long. The point is it makes us remember how great these games were without being put off by the graphics, we are all so used to HD graphics now (or at least I am) that when we go back to previous generations of games (I recently played Space Hulk on a Panasonic 3DO) it’s such a shock to the system.

I’m all in favour of the HD remakes so long as they don’t alter the actual gameplay and story.

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com: The term HD is starting to become something at which I instantly roll my eyes. As the owner of both an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2, my head has become increasingly more bald from tearing my own hair out when I realise the sexy new ‘HD’ iPad release of a former iPhone game is just the same game optimised for the bigger screen. And by optimised, I don’t mean razor-sharp retina display, I mean visuals which are noticeably more jagged. But hey, at least you don’t have to press the X2 button anymore.

Translate this to the bigger consoles, and I’m weary that a lot of these remakes are just desperate cash-in attempts for past it, or on the way out franchises. Grab a 5-10 year old game, re-tool it slightly, slap the HD tag on it and pray. There’s a reason I stopped playing House Of The Dead. Don’t make me remember what it is.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com: My answer in short, hell yes. Having the chance to play classic games with updated graphics and sound, as well as trophy and achievement support is a great thing in my book. Having two or three great games in one package is something that I’m never going to say no to. Sure, some people may feel like they are being ripped off, but I certainly don’t. Ocarina of Time is a great example; I gladly shelled out $40 in order to get the best experience of the game to date. I am in full support of the many HD remakes coming out, the 3DS remakes are great (here’s hoping for Majoras Mask) and the Shadow of Colossus/ Ico collection is particularly exciting for me. I never got to play Ico on the PS2, so the opportunity to do so now is going to be great.

Charles D. “NoSkill McGrill”, SlimGamer.com
Yes, but only to a point. I lean more towards the ones that are budget priced, and include at least 2 major titles. The ones that are stand-alone re-releases with slightly better graphics and carry a high, new release retail price tag don’t make me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I prefer when an old game gets polished visually, and then releases as a downloadable title for $10 or less. If the developer spent a great deal of time improving the game from the original, then I could see grabbing it for $15.

The older the game, the smaller the file size when downloaded, especially when it is a straight port of a 10 to 15 year old game. These bite-size games, from back in the day, don’t need gameplay changes or even visual enhancements, except to look satisfactory on an HD display. I understand digital downloads are a business, and businesses need to maximize profits, but to overcharge for a 10+ year old title that has the same obvious flaws as the original just doesn’t seem right in some cases.

True or False: Digital downloads will end the used game market

Akon Down Low

I said downLOAD.

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad: Well, I’m somewhat on the fence here because I don’t usually digitally purchase games. I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to games. I like going into an actual shop, looking around, deciding on the title I want and they physically paying for it. I have been tempted a couple of times with the Games on Demand with Xbox 360 but other than that I have never really ventured into digital distribution territory.

That being said, the regular games sales on Steam do seem like a very good way of diminishing the second hand market, because I know many people who have seen a second hand copy of the Borderlands complete collection in a games shop – second hand – for significantly more than they paid for it during the last Steam sale.

I think that as the general popularity of digital distribution grows, the second hand market will primarily be used to find rare games and games that publishers might not see as ‘worthy’ of being on their digital distribution platform.

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com: I can’t answer this conclusively. All I know is, if you’re giving me the choice between downloading a full priced game in 25 minutes from the luxury of my pee-stained couch while stuffing raspberry donuts into my face, or getting up on a rainy Saturday morning and trudging down to Game to get a measly £2 off Madden ’46, I know which option I’m choosing.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com: No I don’t think it will be, digital downloads will certainly be a hit against the used game market but I don’t think it will bring about the end of them. Firstly, digital downloads are the same price as getting a game new, buying used will always be cheaper unless some big changes are going to be made. Also it’s important to remember that with the used game market, you can trade in the games that you own, no matter how small a price you get for them. The fact remains that you can get something for it, if you no longer want to play a game. With a digital download, you have it forever once you buy it, minus some crazy account or storage problems. To me, nothing will ever beat the hard copy of a game; I want the case, manual, and disc. So I would much rather buy a game used than download it onto my hard drive.

Charles D. “NoSkill McGrill”, SlimGamer.com: True….eventually, but that time is a good double-digit number of years away. I much prefer having physical media in-hand, I can loan it to my friends and family, and let them experience it for themselves before buying. With digital downloads, I either have to bring a memory card along or recover my account at their place before we can play a digital only game.

Why even wonder when digital downloads will take over, when we have streaming game services like OnLive that don’t even require a download, except to update their client software or hardware. With services like these, hard drive space isn’t needed and your collection of games is with you no matter where you are.

Will Nintendo finally find success online with the Wii U?

Wii U

Who am I? Who are Wii? Who are U?

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad: I sincerely hope so. I think that whilst creating some wonderfully quality games in both the past and present, Nintendo have lost its way hardware wise, they just don’t seem to ‘get’ the internet these days. With the whole Friend Codes that were introduced with the Wii, having such quality services such as Xbox Live and PSN these days you can easily take these services for granted. So, when a company doesn’t quite fulfill those expectations of online features, it really sticks out.

I personally think that the internet capabilities will be a make or break for the Wii U. Speaking to a friend recently, I admitted that I don’t care if the Wii U has internet capabilities or not, I’d still buy one and that’s completely true! And I know it’s going to be the same for many other people out there.

If the Wii U does indeed offer HD graphics in a *potentially* handheld console experience, that’s an instant selling point! I just hope for Nintendo’s sake that they figure out online gaming as I feel that’s the ‘make or break’ feature for people.

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com: Will they find success online? Heck, I’m asking myself whether they’ll find success at all. Is anyone excited about the Wii U? (Stop lying). I think more people are going to be confused rather than hyped for this platform. The original Wii has suffocated under an avalanche of shovelware, and we all know how I feel about the 3DS (well, you would if you read the last Slim Opinion), so I don’t have high hopes for this.

But I digress. As far as Online is concerned, I’ll put it this way, it’s going to take one heck of a revolution for Nintendo to compete with the giants that are Xbox Live and PSN. They’ve traditionally turned their nose up at online connectivity, as if saying ‘We’re Nintendo, and we don’t wish to get involved with any of THAT pap’. Then when they tried it, the resulting friends code debacle was an insult. But a proper online setup is a total given for a console these days. If they don’t get it right this time, they’re going to be left far, far behind.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com: Simply put, I don’t know. There’s really no way to tell at this point if Nintendo will or not, but one things for certain. Nintendo definitely knows about its online short-comings in the past, and with a system that’s advertising a ton of “core games” coming to it, I would be surprised if Nintendo isn’t working their tails off to get the Wii U’s online up to snuff. But I also have to think, does it really matter if Nintendo finds success online or not? I don’t really see the need for the Wii U to have great online anyway, it’s a fantastic looking piece of technology that looks to have a ton of potential. Plus, Nintendo has their own stable of games that don’t need online capability. Better online would certainly be a bonus, but it’s not a selling point with the Wii U for me, and I probably won’t even be disappointed if the online situation for the system stays the same.

Charles D. “NoSkill McGrill”, SlimGamer.com: Not likely. If Sony and Microsoft continue to have dominant online connected consoles, Nintendo will once again find their own path. They may be encroaching in on the hardcore audience with more mainstream multiplatform games, but they have no reason to chase the online gamer. They want to innovate with their hardware, and be the gaming console that appeals to the whole family.

The question is, can Nintendo continue the Wii brand’s success? It is very hard to see average families rushing to the store to pick up something as complicated as the Wii U. Yes, the tech looks neat and the games will probably be up to par with the current generation, but will Soccer Mom see the new system and wonder if it is a little over-the-top for their family.

True or False: Project Ten Dollar is unfair to second hand gamers

Need a Dollar

EA need ten.

Mike Smith “Skith”, Screaming at a Joypad: I think it’s true.

Personally speaking I can’t always afford video games brand new, so usually second hand games are the only way I can get to play them. I think the incentive of offering additional content for brand new titles is a nice touch though and I have bought a few games in the past that had the extra content but didn’t even notice it was there. I think that sometimes it’s DLC that you enjoy it’s there but you don’t miss if it isn’t there.

This unfortunately opens up a bit of a can of worms for me as I feel that ‘Day one DLC’ is usually a bit of a game breaker for me. I don’t really want to start a game with an amazing weapon or impregnable armour, as this ruins the progression of any character evolution. I think that DLC should remain as extra content, more levels to take your character through etc.

Obviously this a step towards eradicating the Used Game market but I honestly don’t think that will ever happen whilst video games continue to be priced as they are.

Kevin Moore “Dr Eagle G”, SlimGamer.com: I think the fact it’s called ‘Project Ten Dollar’ says it all. EA couldn’t even be bothered to dress it up a little to escape the ire of the videogame public. They could’ve called it ‘Project Value’ or ‘Project Freedom’ to disguise the fact they’re trying to punch the pre-owned games industry squarley in it’s metaphorical face. Instead, they may as well have called it ‘Project Screw U’.

This is a big middle finger to folks who buy most of their games used. Johnny X has already spent £40 on buying your new release, so it’s legally his to do what he wants with. Now that he’s finished with it, why can’t I pick it up for cheaper without having to unpeel another £10 from the dark recesses of my wallet for multiplayer action? I’ll leave the ridiculous ‘discounts’ Game and the like apply to their used titles for another Slim Opinion (the original was £40, but I’m getting it for £39.50. Whoo!), but for now, I’m going to refuse to buy any EA game ever again.* That’ll learn em.

*Except FIFA 12, 13, 14, 15 etc.

Hayes Madsen “Uber Popsicle/Solfleet”, SlimGamer.com: Considering the wording of the question, yes Ten Dollar is unfair for second hand gamers. That’s kind of the point of it, I think. Developers have been perfectly vocal about how much second hand gaming hurts them and their studios. Whether it’s all completely accurate or not, I’m not sure though. I see Project Ten Dollar as EA’s way of trying to make people buy their game new. With extra features that you only get with a new copy, it’s certainly a draw to buy new. Now I’m not saying that Project Ten Dollar is a great thing, but I can certainly see EA’s side of things. The fact of the matter is though, that Ten Dollar does make things more expensive and it does hurt second hand gamers. I almost always buy my games new anyways just because of a personal preference, but when I do get a used game that has something like Ten Dollar I will admit I feel cheated. Another point to bring up is how this hurts people that rent games. If you rent a game that has Project Ten Dollar, you find yourself locked out of certain aspects of the game. Take Dead Space 2 for example, if you rented it you would have all of 24 hours to play multiplayer before it locks you out and you have to purchase the online pass. Unfair? Maybe, but I can see why EA feels the need to do it at least.

Charles D. “NoSkill McGrill”, SlimGamer.com: Yes, but second hand gamers are taking away from the developers and publishers who work really hard to get these games into gamers’ hands. I can see how both sides want what is ultimately fair to them. Those gamers wanting to save a little cash and buy their games used at a lower cost, keeps them playing the titles they want, and may also increase DLC sales for the devs and publishers. The problem occurs when they want to jump online, and are forced to drop ten more dollars and essentially lose any savings from buying the game used.

It’s interesting to think about what may have happened if it was Project Five Dollar or even Project Two Dollar. Would we still feel ripped off for having to spend more money just to jump online? Imagine, you saved ten dollars picking up a game that is a few months old, and only need 2 more dollars to throw on a headset and play online with your friends. I know it will probably never happen that way, but it would have been less of a blow to gamers everywhere.