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Gaming The 128-bit era (better known as the era of the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube)


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What did you think of this last generation of console gaming compared to the 32-bit (Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis) and 64-bit (Nintendo 64 and Playstation) eras?

In the midsts of things, I thought that it was unfairly ciritsized as an era of flash over substance. But looking back, they were right. Short 10-20 hour graphic fests were advertised and pushed to the moon while most of the story-laced RPGs that I'd come to love in the 64-bit era were so hushed that there was no way to hear about them except to look and listen on forums or search "the back alleys" of videogame review websites, and even then, there weren't near as many worth mentioning as in the previous era.

Of course, it wasn't without its gems. GTA3 and GTA San Andreas are a couple of my favorite games ever. There was also Final Fantasy X (which wasn't as good as FF 7-9 but was still excellent), Morrowind (PC version was still much better though), MGS2 and MGS3, Ninja Gaiden, Eternal Darkness, DOA3 and DOAU, Xenosaga Episode 1, .hack (which might as well be one game on four disks), and Star Ocean. Its bad that from these past 5 years, these are probaby all of the console titles that I'm going to remember (positively) by themselves at the end of the next generation of gaming. (without straining myself trying to remember)

And its expecially bad when you consider that the original Playstation had so many great, memorable, and [i]long[/i] games that I could probably type up 50 right off the top of my head if I felt like it.
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[font=Franklin Gothic Medium][color=#808080]I tend to think that each generation builds upon the last. Mostly, companies are happy to make incremental improvements - there are often a select few companies who create something totally revolutionary.

However I must say, this generation has been far more experimental than the previous one. Consider everything from Jet Set Radio and Rez to Katamari Damacy and Viewtiful Joe. In some respects, I almost view this generation as a bit of a creative renaissance - if you think about it, most developers were just trying to grapple with the shift to 3D in the previous generation.

In this generation, 3D has finally become established. Now developers are mostly in the business of refining graphics and improving 3D-based gameplay. Where we had Super Mario 64 as a great first step in the last generation, we now have games like Super Mario Sunshine, Jak & Daxter and others to push that established framework even further. These games don't reinvent the wheel, but they take the foundation and build on it in various effective ways.

This generation has also played host to plenty of revolutionary games - games that are revolutionary for a number of reasons.

The first 3D GTA game was introduced in this generation, for example. As individual elements, it invented nothing particularly new. But as a whole it was a revelation and created an unquestionable revolution in terms of consumer expecations and trends.

Each company has played host to some sort of revolution though, I think. PS2 served to make gaming even more mainstream than its predecessor. Xbox introduced the first truly viable online gaming network for home consoles. And GameCube played host to some of the most innovative titles in the generation; Metroid Prime alone is reason enough to own the system, as far as I'm concerned. I consider it to be a revolution in various ways - it totally bucks trends and it completely goes against conventional wisdom. But it does so flawlessly.

I also think that we are now reaching a point where visual realism isn't as important as it was. It's still important in some respects, but the impact has lessened. If you look at games like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Viewtiful Joe and upcoming titles like Okami, I think what you see are games that are actually experimenting with different kinds of realism. Zelda is very "realistic" not because it has photo-like images, but because everything in the world is completely consistent. The [i]behaviors[/i] of objects and people are such that the world is very convincing. It's a strong argument for behavior-driven realism versus image-driven realism (an image might "look" real, but if it behaves like cardboard, there is no suspension of disbelief).

Games like Okami also demonstrate that 3D graphics can be more than pure realistic representation. Okami truly looks like a living ink painting - it's quite remarkable. That kind of world is a really attractive thing; it's a place I'd like to visit. And I'm sure a lot of others will agree with that.

In terms of game length, there are a few factors to consider.

Firstly, I don't necessarily believe that games have become shorter by default. Some games have and there are certain trends that exist right now - I think there's a lot of demand for unique games that are very replayable, but not necessarily very long. This demand possibly comes from a more mainstream audience.

However, there are still plenty of long games. I'm not sure if there are more than in the previous generation, but there are probably enough - probably more than one person could afford, anyway.

In addition, making really long games with advanced graphics represents a huge cost factor. It's not to say that we won't see any long games in future, but we [i]may[/i] see less of them, at least until somebody finds a way to keep costs under control (and the industry certainly isn't moving in that direction).

In terms of people describing it as an era of flash...well, I suppose that's true. But this same argument can be made at any point in history. You can look at the previous generation and say that it was all about flash, because of FMV and 3D images. But you could also say the same about the 16-bit generation, because of scrolling backgrounds and simplistic 3D. Really, if you are comparing the current generation to the last, you're [i]always[/i] going to be talking about the current generation being graphically superior. So of course, more "flash" is just a given as far as I'm concerned.

But I view that as irrelevant, because it's just a natural progression. Nobody expects games to look worse as time goes on, I'd think.

What matters is whether or not that visual improvement is matched by an improvement in other areas - mechanics, A.I., concepts/ideas, etc...

My feeling is that this has (and is continuing to be) achieved in the current generation. Again, you can look at games like Metroid Prime or GTA or Resident Evil 4 to see how companies are further refining movement and interaction in a 3D space - and combining that with some pretty cool and new ideas/concepts.

How does this generation rate overall? Well, it's hard to compare because of nostalgia. It wasn't as exciting as the last generation for me, but that's because last time we went from 2D to 3D. That's a massive, massive leap. We won't see that leap again - at least, not with graphics. But I think we will see that leap with other areas, it's just that it'll be more progressive.

Things like voice recognition and touch control (of various kinds) are the sorts of things that we can look forward to, in ways that haven't been seen before (and that haven't been expressed as well). At the same time, I think we can look forward to much better online connectivity and such.

So, I think this generation has achieved plenty. And I think the next generation will bring about similar excitement, but in different ways. So there's plenty to look forward to and lots to enjoy currently.[/color][/font]
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[Font=Garamond] [Color=Red]I found this generation of gaming to be a vast leap in 3D graphics. Though not without it's 2D games that shined, & were a marvel to play,[GGX2#Reload, Disgaea:Hour of Darkness, etc.] 3D was at it's center stage. There were massive technological achievements, such as Half-Life 2, Doom 3, MGS2, GT3/4, & so forth. And, frankly, it was quite exciting. Seeing top notch titles come out frequently, such as the Jak series, GTA, Halo, & even Ratchet & Clank was quite a sight to behold, and a nice treat for gamers.

Sadly, I feel that RPGs have had a weaker showing then they previously had - The only traditional RPGs that I can recall, that were mentionable, were FFX, Star Ocean:TTEOT, Xenosaga, & a few more. But the length, I feel, hasn't much changed. While there are some incredibly short games, that does not imply that all of them are like that. Take Star Ocean, as previously mentioned - The game's on two discs. And the FF series is practically always more than 40 hours. But flash over substance? Not necessarily. Just because a game's 13 hours long, and visually astounding, doesn't mean it lacks substance, RPG or not. And, frankly, I found that most RPGs are story-laced - maybe not entirely akin to the 64 bit era, but they're still story driven.

There were, undoubtedly, a number of sleeper hits that were almost entirely overlooked such as Ico, Burnout 3, and Prince of Persia - Great games in their own right, some even better than mainstream titles. Sad that people bought more of Shellshock Nam?67 than Burnout 3 ? But it can?t be helped.

See, while there was only a leap in 3D graphics, and not 2D to 3D, it was still astounding. Games now look like Hollywood productions ? to some people?s displeasure. But, alas, despite my contempt with this era, I would not say it?s the best generation to date. Not by a long shot. It was great, I'll admit, but last one was just significantly better. Makes me wonder if there's going to be enough to enjoy in time to come, heh. [/Font] [/Color]
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[color=#4B0082]Just so you know, the SNES/Genesis generation was the 16-bit generation. After that it started to get fuzzy, as the PS1 was 32-bit and N64 was, obviously, 64-bit -- so the 32- and 64-bit machines shared the same generation.

But anyway, I don't really know whether I've enjoyed this or the previous generation more. I dearly loved my N64 and PS1; both provided me with hours and hours of great single- and multi-player fun. Titles like Mario 64, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, Final Fantasy VII, Super Smash Bros., GoldenEye 007, and Perfect Dark kept me gaming just as much as I am currently, despite the fact that I own a fair number more games from the current generation of consoles. I really don't have any complaints about the previous generation of consoles.

As for the 128-bit generation, it's been a blast. Being older and having more money to spend on games, I've been able to enjoy more great titles than I ever have before. Though as I've said in the past, there's something missing from my 128-bit experiences that I miss a lot, and that's multi-player gaming. It's no fault of the consoles or games, it's just that me and my friends have all been busier with school and such so there hasn't been as much time to get together for gaming sessions. My single player experiences have, however, pretty much made up for that.

This generation has spawned some amazing titles that go beyond simply being flashy (Zelda: The Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, F-Zero GX), and even others that stand on their gameplay alone and don't even try to sell based on graphics (Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Animal Crossing). 3D graphics aren't the only thing that's improved during this generation -- 3D gameplay has kept right alongside the visuals. So while I'll always still love the N64/PS1 classics, I have to say that I think a lot of games from this generation really outdid those of the previous.

Though of course, this is all ignoring the handheld scene. Even though they may be behind their console cousins technologically, the GBC and GBA/SP were home to some amazingly fun games. But then, there's the question of which generations the handhelds belong in -- especially the GBA, since it was backwards compatible with GB/C games and also featured ports of SNES games, yet was released at the beginning of the 128-bit generation. ... Which is a mess I don't care to think about farther, heh. All I know is that I love my GBA SP more than any of my consoles, so I guess whatever generation you put it in, that one's the winner for me. :animesmil[/color]
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Playstation was 32 bit? Did you mean to say Sega Saturn, because I thought the Playstation had around the same capabilities as the N64, for better or worse?

Anyway, my first system was an N64 so I guess I would say that the 3-D era is the best. Mostly because I love good first person shooters with good multiplayer and there was none of that on the SNES and Genesis. So I guess the Xbox etc. era is the best because those have the best FPSs. Although N64 had some nice ones.

Although, now that handhelds have capabilites that come close to the current generation (about Dreamcast), I'm finding that my attention is drifting away from consoles since handhelds can now have awesome first person shooters. Althought that might change with the Xbox 360 in November.
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[COLOR=DarkRed]I was pretty sure that the newer systems (most commonly known as the "Next Gen" consoles) are far more than 128 bits. They are easily better graphics than Dreamcast, and Dreamcast was 128. The newer gen we're in now is well over 200 bits.

And yes, the Playstation was 32 bits originally, but the games they later created for it utilized the system better, so it was capable of 64 bit graphics.

As for what i like, there are absolutely tons of games on the new systems that i love, but they are all games that i will play once, and most likely never agian. Older systems have me still coming back for more. In the long run, i'd say i like the older systems better, but i'm hooked on a couple next gen games (a feeling that probably just wont last, with the exception of party games).[/COLOR]
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Although the era was a huge leap in 3D for game consoles, I remember quite well that there already was games before that playing quite well on the computer in 3D. Like the Tomb Raider games for PS1. The computer versions were awesome. When PS2, Xbox and Gamecube came out, It was gratifying to see that game consoles were finally catching up with computers. And since computer have gone way beyond that, I'm early awating the next phase in game consoles.

I agree with Bloodseeker in that although the graphics have improved and it's moved to 3D format, it was definatly a bit lacking in the RPG story type of games. I mean they did put out some good ones, but not enough for me. :animesmil
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[QUOTE=Gravy Train]Playstation was 32 bit? Did you mean to say Sega Saturn, because I thought the Playstation had around the same capabilities as the N64, for better or worse?


[font=franklin gothic medium][color=#808080]PlayStation and Saturn were 32-bit, Nintendo 64 was 64-bit. PlayStation's capabilities sat somewhere between Saturn and Nintendo 64.

The "bits" of a console don't really make a tremendous amount of difference these days, because of the way the hardware is designed. All current generation systems are regarded as "128-bit", but I think that number actually changes depending on what you take into consideration. It matters not, though, because current systems are all designed pretty differently on the inside (especially in the case of PS2).[/color][/font]
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I actually loved this era of gaming, but then again, I loved them all lol. As previously stated, each bit era had something new to offer and build upon gaming. I love to play PS2, XBOX, etc, but I still play SNES all the time. Of course as time passes all these systems will become more and more outdated and gaming will just get better and better.
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[quote name='James][font=franklin gothic medium][color=#808080]The "bits" of a console don't really make a tremendous amount of difference these days, because of the way the hardware is designed. All current generation systems are regarded as "128-bit", but I think that number actually changes depending on what you take into consideration. It matters not, though, because current systems are all designed pretty differently on the inside (especially in the case of PS2).[/color'][/font][/quote]

This needs to be quoted for truth.

Using bit amounts to determine generations means absolutely nothing anymore. Bits in these senses are determined by the CPU. The Xbox, for example, is only 32-bit by those standards. Dreamcast was 128-bit. Obviously comparing the two systems by that would get you absolutely nowhere.
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