As long time followers will probably recall we love XBLA and especially we love the Summer of Arcade promotion periods, and why not? Over the last two years it has brought Castle Crashers, Trials HD, Shadow Complex, Geometry Wars 2 and Braid (among others) but this year has been incredibly lacklustre to say the least and this week some news broke that finally shattered the visage for us – namely the co-op issues in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
In our minds if you are releasing a game early on a system – Lara Croft is launching weeks ahead of PC and PS3 releases – it should be beneficial, but this week it was announced that the game would not feature online co-op at launch. This is truly shocking to me, how can a game be released exclusively but not actually be finished? I am certain that there are a lot of cross words passing from Microsoft to Crystal Dynamics right now. The kicker? The announcement that DLC is planned and as such most likely already in development. Why not finish the damn game first then work on DLC? At 1200 points I was wavering on whether or not to go for it, but positive press comments had pretty much sealed the deal. This latest revelation is not game breaking at all, but it’s the principle of the matter that bothers me. We live in an age of unfinished games being released and patched after the consumer acts as QA tester, while other games have gameplay held back purely to sell as DLC. Burnout Paradise got the balance right with free DLC, support for the community and paid DLC that was worthy of the name, but that is besides the point, what we have is a game that is gimped from launch, and this is unforgivable.
I probably would give too much concern to it ordinarily but as there are rewards for buying all the titles released (1200 points with all five/400 points with three) I had every intention on buying every title regardless of specific taste. But then I played the games that have been thus far released and I can’t be bothered to make the effort.
With the obvious exception of Limbo this Summer of Arcade is more like a Summer of Discontent:
Hydro Thunder Hurricane was a needless ‘sequel’ to a game that was decidedly average in the first place.
Castlevania ‘HD’ is supposedly a love letter to the Metroidvania titles of yore, but essentially becomes a squallid mess of vampiric proportions.
Monday Night Combat currently looks like Team Fortress 2 blended with The Running Man (but with extremely shallow gameplay)
Where are the essentially fun games? Instead we get a few ‘updates’ or ‘reworkings’ of older games and nothing of quality (again not counting Limbo at all).
Hopefully Microsoft will suffer poor sales on a lot of these titles and come up with something a lot better next year.
I doubt it though.