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Welcoming the Vibrancy of a New Generation of Games

Posted on Thursday, May 15 @ 15:00:00 Eastern by Joey_Davidson

Take a second and watch the brand new gameplay trailer for Sunset Overdrive. Go ahead. Dismiss any console allegiances you might have cooked up, any ill regards you hold for Insomniac and their recent efforts and hold on to your concept of triple A gaming.

Watch it. I’ll wait.

I don’t care if you hate shooters or love them. I don’t mind if you’re as done with “zombies and mutants” and other fodder as I am. It won’t even bother me if you say you’re sick and tired of the open world genre. Those notions, those arguments, they’re irrelevant right now.

Why? Ladies and germs, look at the goddamn colors.

Breathe them in. Soak them up. Enjoy them. This is a triple A game that was vied for and won by Microsoft. This is an Xbox One exclusive, and that means the console makers saw enough luster in Sunset Overdrive to pay top dollar for it and let Insomniac keep the IP.

Why should we care? The era of gray and brown, my fellow gamers, might slowly be slipping behind us.

A Decade of Playing in the Mud

I can’t put my finger on exactly when it started. I remember vibrant games during the Nintendo 64 era. I remember tons of colors from big GameCube, Xbox and PlayStation 2 titles. I remember, pretty much since the moment I picked up a controller, growing up surrounded by virtual worlds of dynamic color.

It was around the same time that Call of Duty lead the drive towards realism that colors started to vanish from games. Developers and publishers found that there was a lot less to be offended about in the blasé worlds of earth tone and mute.

“Why dump money into making bright greens, reds and blues when we can paint the world gray and call ourselves ‘realistic?’”

I have nothing against big budget offerings. The games that defined the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era were, by and large, wonderful. Even those designed by committee had a certain flair for wasted budget and over-the-top glory.

Brown and gray were safe, though. Ubisoft stuck with that palette for Assassin’s Creed, Activision did it with Call of Duty and EA tried it with Medal of Honor. Meanwhile, beautifully vibrant offerings like the ones from the generation before became too risky and niche. We left a generation of Viewtiful Joes, Okamis, Wind Wakers and Katamaris for the cold world of realistic and plain.

It got dull.

Moving Into an Era of Promise

Maybe this is why I still have a soft spot for Nintendo. They’ve always made vibrant games, regardless of what the world wants. Mario, Zelda, Pikmin and everything else have always been washed in unique colors. Unlike the rest of the world, Nintendo kept right along the path of variety in hue.

It looks like, thank heavens, they’re no longer alone. Triple A gaming and big budget console exclusives are finally injecting themselves with more colors than we’ve become accustomed to lately. I pointed to Sunset Overdrive in the intro, but that’s one of several newcomers that have me hopeful for what this generation will bring.

inFamous: Second Son was undeniably bright and neon. There was even that same sense of color in some parts of Killzone: Shadow Fall. The PlayStation side of the fence is also populated by interestingly toned indies like Stick it to the Man!, Hohokum and Octodad.

Then there’s Xbox One. They’re getting Sunset Overdrive, but they also had the brilliant and uniquely colored world of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. That’s a decent shooter with a nice hook and an interesting sense of progression. I actually like it a lot. A huge contributing factor for my infatuation is, of course, how bright and appealing the environments are.

I might be getting my hopes up a little too much, of course. A lot of the big budget offerings are still playing it safe with muted colors. I don’t expect that to change overnight.

But, as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are showing more love for games like Sunset Overdrive, I’m getting the impression that developers and publishers are ready for more color, too. Heck, I just play these things for a dozen or so hours at a time. The folks that make the brown and gray games live with them for years. Imagine that dull world?

I bet they’re even more pumped for games with color than we are.

Tags:   Xbox One, PS4, PC, Wii U

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