Thursday, October 6, 2016

Upcoming video game in Detroit worth dreaming about

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 2:26 PM

  • Courtesy Wikipedia
This current generation of video games sucks. Not the hardware, per se, but the game library is just crap. Let’s be honest. I’ve spent more time at small buy-sell-trade shops searching for the classic systems and retro games than in the big box electronic stores pre-ordering games. This isn’t just me being a video game snob; this is a legitimate trend.

Gamestop has even gone back to selling NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Dreamcast and the like online. Nintendo re-created the original NES with 30 preloaded games to gain a corner in that market, and Sega probably won’t be too far behind. Third-party developers have been making universal consoles that play anything on a cartridge. So, what have the game developers done? Re-mastering their classics from the previous generation: The Last of Us, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, God of War 3, GTA 5, Final Fantasy 7, Bioshock, and I’m sure the list goes on.

There is all this wonderful hardware — 4K gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc. — coming out and nothing to play. Sure, there are titles like Battlefield, Call of Duty, Madden, and NBA 2K; but, they are just filler titles. Something to play until a game comes along that knocks your socks off. But the problem is there hasn’t been one. This generation has been more about the hardware and not the games. It’s disheartening to say the least. Remastering last-gen titles with next-gen graphics and sound doesn’t exactly incite excitement.

There is no game to realistically yearn for, except Gran Turismo 7, on any console. At least that’s what I thought until I recently spent time on YouTube watching upcoming video game trailers from 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Considering all the announcements, I assumed there would be at least a few games that would pique my interest.

[Buzzer sound] There was only one: Detroit: Become Human.

It’s 2007 all over again. There was just this mention of this obscure game (Bioshock) that I knew nothing about, but felt like I needed to keep tabs on. It’s the same feeling I have now about Detroit: Become Human. Part of it might be the game’s connection to the city. Maybe I am turning into a video game snob. But the last time I felt this way about a game, it became my best gaming decision.

The game is a third-person, action-adventure game set inside the city of Detroit. There are so many interesting elements throughout the game besides the locale. The storyline is reminiscent of “I, Robot.” Humans create androids. Androids take over certain day-to-day tasks. Some androids malfunction, others disappear, while some begin to show human-like emotion.

Detroit: Become Human is about emotions, about dilemmas and making difficult decisions,” said David Cage, the game’s director. He stresses that it is not just “the story of androids becoming aware of themselves and their fight to be free, it is about a story that resonates at many levels in our world, about being free, about becoming who you are.”

Two playable characters, Kara and Connor, have been announced. Not much information has been given about the two. We know Kara is newly created android trying to adapt with living among humans and her “purpose” so to speak. Connor, on the other hand is an advanced-model police android charged with catching “deviant androids” — the ones who actions have deviated from their programmed purpose.

The story is said to be directly based on the decisions and strategy players use in specific scenarios. Each scenario plays out based on the “right way” or the “wrong way” of going about the situation. Players will be able to switch between the different playable characters, but the game doesn’t just end with one character’s death (like a dual-story Resident Evil). It just moves on without the character(s).

The game adapts to the decisions made. While a bad decision may not immediately take effect, eventually it will. Your actions with one character can change the experience with another. This may sound familiar to PS4 gamers as it should. Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls have a similar style of storytelling, used it successfully, and were also developed by Quantic Dream, the company behind Detroit: Become Human.

Quantic Dream creator David Cage explained in multiple interviews that he took inspiration from Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near — a book comparing the development of the human intellect to that of a machine — and took it a step further to include human emotions from his androids. He also said the company chose Detroit “to revitalize a city that had succumbed to economic decline after having made a historical contribution to American industry.”

There is no official street date for Detroit: Become Human — although there are rumblings that shooting the character movements and animations should be wrapping up sometime around February 2017 — so I urge anyone interested to get a copy of Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls to familiarize themselves with the developer and their niche style of storytelling. Both these games were a refreshing break from the mundane offerings provided to us with a different number on it every year.

Given the Quantic Dream’s track history with interesting and riveting games, Detroit: Become Human should have no problem inhabiting my game collection until the end of time.

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