Aha, I thought, as I browsed the forums critically. A topic about old and new gaming. I shall amaze them all with my incredibly professional opinions and arguments. Then I remembered I had homework to do.
In any case, my first reaction is: Some games have improved with age, others have declined. The RPG genre, for example, once the province of red-eyed geeks who typed cryptic commands into university mainframes, is now an amazing example of gaming's potential for storyline and art. On the other hand, many genres (Racers, FPSs, etc) have, in recent years, dumped gameplay for something visually impressive in an increasingly media-centric world, usually opting for 'realism' which I counter by saying 'We have reality for realism, not games'.
I feel a need to at least point out the chief differences between the older and newer generations.
Obviously there have been the standard graphical increases - more colours, higher polygon counts, anti-aliasing and so on - and one could hardly argue with the fact that newer graphics are better. Nobody likes playing a game where all the people resemble origami cut-out polio victims.
I feel the art style in recent years has changed somewhat: The less serious games tend to have lots of unnecessary eye-candy about them that often makes it nigh on impossible to tell what is actually going on
. I have nothing against bright and shiny games, but when the on-screen drama actually impedes gameplay, that's going too far.
Meanwhile, more serious games often include stylish effects that would not look too out of place in a movie production. While I have nothing in particular against these developments, they do seem to be drawing an uncomfortable line between gaming and the rest of the media, and I think it's time more than a few developers understood that they are not the same
Gameplay has also changed dramatically in almost all areas: Put bluntly, it seems to be getting slower. In the old days of Unreal and Quake, you moved through the level as if you were attached to a pair of plutonium-powered rocket skates, but now in many games you shuffle around at walking pace. Apart from taking the excitement out of things, this also takes its toll on competitive gaming, meaning that it is less based on speed and skill and more upon who can find a good place to camp.*
Newer games are also developing another worrying trend - they're getting easier. In the platformers of old, it was considered perfectly normal that every bug, beast and soldier in the game would suicidally attack you, but now even the most stubborn levels of Super Mario Galaxy will yield to a bit of planning and jumping.
Nothing demonstrates this trend more than the rise of consoles as popular gaming platforms: Because of the thumbstick's obvious disadvantage when aiming at anything smaller than a barn, many new-gen games come out and use outright aimbots. The nerve of it!
One more favourable thing I have seen in newer generation games is plot and sophistication: Earlier games along the lines of Doom had a very simple plot: Aliens have invaded the base, blah blah blah, kill everything, etc. Whereas nowadays you get games like Dragon Age: Origins, which, I recently heard, contain nine novels' worth of text. This is a nice new development, but developers are occasionally making a fatal mistake: Sacrificing gameplay for storyline.
Overall, I am beginning to dislike many new-generation gaming trends and would happily play old school games in their place.
A few favourites:
Serious Sam (2001)
Unreal Tournament 2004
Thief II (2000)
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Super Mario World (1990)
Half Life 2 (2004)