Entertainment

Is a new wave of AA games our only hope of recapturing the magic of the PS2 era?

The innocent days of getting all my hot song cues from the GTA radio station are over and I miss them. The pinnacle of the PS2 era was a strange time when Rockstar broke the rules rather than repackaged them, Ico proved that video games can be art, and now-defunct publisher Midway, with its newly revealed Mortal Kombat, showed that art can. get beheading and aggressively stylized marketing. Now facing remakes, remakes, PS5 updates, and the race to become the next Fortnite, video games are in danger of flattening out.

While the indie movie scene is bubbling, even here we see ideas being remade and a narrow focus on the same ideas or systems. If you like quirky narrative adventures or roguelite instant death RPGs, that’s fine. For those looking for new experiences with different production values… I would like to suggest another solution: a flawed but catchy AA game. That’s right: semi-classic 7/10s approaching an endangered species.

  • Do you agree with our best PS2 games of all time?

Big money strings drive risk takers away

A Plague Tale: Innocence

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(Image credit: Solution Fun)

“I found myself yearning for the weirdest release listings from the PS2 days when even the biggest publishers took risks”

Is innovation paralyzed by success? Major blockbuster releases have teams of over 500 people, cost millions, and take more than five years to complete… so something has to be done in the creative process. I love Naughty Dog, but its focus on cinematic storytelling made Ellie feel nauseous about The Last Of Us 2’s great game idea. Solid Snake achieved this feat in the first five minutes of Metal Gear Solid in 1998.

This led me to gravitate towards games that scored 7/10. Games that offer a solid but flawed experience with a well-executed creative idea. That’s why A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of my all-time favorite games – a mouse-ridden puzzle delight. We need to celebrate publishers like Nacon, Team17, and Focus Home that enable smaller teams to innovate. We need to encourage 505 Games to continue to let developers experiment – which is why we have creative games like Control and the announced Ghostrunner sequel is already on my radar.

While we can’t go back in time, we can encourage developers to take risks and accept that failure is fun.


For more exclusive interviews, previews and deep dives, you can: Subscribe to Play magazine right here.


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Is a new wave of AA games our only hope of recapturing the magic of the PS2 era?

The innocent days when I would get all my hot music tips from GTA’s radio station are over, and I miss them. The peak of the PS2 era was a weird time when Rockstar was breaking the rules, not repackaging them, Ico was proving videogames can be art, and – now defunct – publisher Midway, with the nascent Mortal Kombat, was demonstrating art can be a decapitation and aggressively stylised marketing. Now, faced with an avalanche of remasters, remakes, PS5 upgrades, and a race to the bottom to be the next Fortnite, videogames are in danger of being flattened.
Though the indie scene is bubbling under, even here we’re seeing ideas being rehashed and a narrowing focus on the same ideas or systems. If you’re into quirky narrative-driven adventures or roguelite insta-death RPGs, you’re fine. For those seeking fresh experiences with a different level of production values… I’d like to suggest another solution: the flawed but memorable AA game. That’s right: the 7/10 quasi-classics that are verging on an endangered species.
Do you agree with our best PS2 games of all time?
Big money sequels are crowding out risk takers

(Image credit: Remedy Entertainment)

“I’ve found myself yearning for the weirder release lists of the PS2 days, when even the biggest publishers took risks”

Has innovation become hamstrung by success? Big blockbuster releases have teams of over 500, cost millions to make, and five-plus years to finish… so something in the creative process has to give. I love Naughty Dog, but its focus on film-like narrative ensured The Last Of Us 2’s big gameplay idea was enabling Ellie to go prone. Solid Snake managed this feat in the first five minutes of Metal Gear Solid back in 1998.
It’s left me gravitating towards games that score 7/10. Games that deliver a solid but flawed experience with one inventive idea well executed. It’s why A Plague Tale: Innocence is one of my favourite games in recent times – the rat mob is a puzzle joy. We need to celebrate publishers such as Nacon, Team17, and Focus Home that allow smaller teams to innovate. We need to encourage the likes of 505 Games to keep enabling developers to experiment – it’s why we have inventive games like Control and why the announced sequel to Ghostrunner is already on my radar.
While we can’t turn back the clock, we can encourage developers to take risks and accept there is fun in failure.
For more exclusive interviews, previews, and deep-dives, you can subscribe to Play magazine right here. 

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