Saturday, September 27, 2008

Can Video Games Stand the Test of Time?

In 2004, ten years after its initial release PCGamer voted Doom the most influential PC game of all time. Coincidentally around about the same time a dose of nostalgia prompted me to re-install the game to see could I find the magic that enthralled me for so many hours back in the mid 90's.

I could see vestiges of former glory. The gameplay is fast and furious but seen with modern eyes the game is over long and repetitive, the controls are awkward and it looks very ugly. So ugly in fact that playing the game for any period gave me motion sickness. I remembered then that motion sickness was a regular feature of my gaming experience back in the days. So much for nostalgia.

Masterpieces of art, literature, theatre and even cinema seem to achieve a longevity that is denied video games. Why do classic games not endure? Is it because of the pace of change of technology? Is it because the medium of gaming is in its infancy and has not yet reached a stable plateau? Is it because of the transient nature of the gaming experience? Is it a symptom of the ever shortening attention span of modern society? I don't know. Perhaps all of the above.

One ray of hope: Xbox Live Arcade's re-release of Duke Nukem 3D for the 360 was recently reviewed by Eurogamer and awarded eight out of ten. This isn' t a modernised remake. This is a straight port of the original game and that is a very impressive score from a reputable review site. The reviewer does admit to being a fan of the original game so it is hard to rule out rose tinted glasses. I browsed the comments looking for other opinions and but I couldn't seperate genuine reviews from nostalgia. One thing did amuse my though, several of the commentors mentioned getting motion sickness from the game.

PS. I loved Duke 3D but it lingers in my memory as perhaps the grubbiest game I have ever played and I am not just talking about the well publicised erotic dancers. Toilets and sewers seemed to play a huge part of the game. It also had some extremely unsavoury enemies including a kind of slime thing that lived in sewers which literally smothered you in putrid slurry and another flying creature that fired rockets out of its anus! Playing the game for any length of time made me feel like I needed to take a shower.

No comments: