One thing I've noticed lately is that I really don't spend a lot of time playing through individual games. I spend a number of hours going through them seemingly just working to get to the end. Working. That word should never be used in the same sentence as video games, but that's what I've been thinking lately. I don't have a reason for needing to rush through them, I'm not on a deadline. I don't do reviews here, at least I haven't yet, so what's the hurry? I see two reasons for that. One, today's games seem much too linear for my tastes. Most of the games I've seen these days tend to be of the "complete this mission then go directly to the next one" type. That gets very old very quickly, especially with a game that's just a little short on story. Whatever happened to that great gaming convention of optional side quests? And two, there are just so many good games coming out that I don't want to miss any of them. I feel that I need to get through one so I can get to the four others that I have waiting. And then the next month starts the cycle over again. Oh how I hate having a day job.

There used to be a time when I would only buy one game a month, or even every other month. I used to play games so I could explore every inch of their gaming world. I would try to get every weapon, every rare item, beat every boss, and just spend a lot of time wandering around. Final Fantasy VII was one of my favorite games to try and get everything in. I beat all the Weapons. I collected all the rare items. I even got every optional character in my game. I spent over 140 hours in that world, much longer than any other game I've had before or since, and I loved every minute of it. Later games in the Final Fantasy series (X is really notorious for this), made several of the side quests damn near impossible. How many people actually sat in the Thunder Plains long enough to dodge 200 lightning strikes in a row? Not me, I have a lot of patience, but I'm not a masochist.

The trend with newer games seems to be that if a developer adds an extra coat of graphics paint, they think they can skimp a bit on the content underneath. That trend troubles me. What we are getting is a superficial upgrade at the cost of the core elements of gameplay and enjoyment. I don't care if I can see a character's every hair move in the breeze, or that the water effects look hyper-realistic. That's not why I play games. I play because I want to experience a different reality than the one I'm in now. I know that I seem to be contradicting myself regarding graphics, but here's the thing. I have an imagination, and therefore, do not need graphics to show every detail of every little thing on the screen for me to enjoy a game. And no, I don't hate my life, nor do I want to hide from it, I just want to engage my mind in something other than the norm. To me, graphics are not a consideration on whether to buy a game or not. Don't get me wrong, I do like a good looking game just like the next guy, but I'd rather they skip an extra coat of paint and add a few more hours of side quests instead.

I am hopeful with some of these games coming out in the next few months (or longer in some cases). Of course Final Fantasy XIII and Versus have my attention, as does the latest Star Ocean game. Halo Wars is definitely in the queue, and so are a quite a few games from the recent past. I still haven't spent enough time with LittleBigPlanet, or the Gears of War series. And I cannot forget about Fallout 3 either, especially with the upcoming DLC on the horizon. So I plan to go the slow route, and take my time to really explore and experience a game. I'll eventually catch up on all the games I want to play, even if it takes me a few years to do it.

So what do you think? Are you happy with the way things are trending in the gaming world, or are you as nostalgic about the good old days as I am? Drop me a line, tell me what you believe.


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