AoC – Next Generation of Button Masher?

You’ll have to excuse me whilst I think (…urmmm, type…) out loud here for a second…cause I’m not sure I’m convinced about what I’m about to write.

Firstly, you’ll recall in my earlier writings that I think the whole premise of “next generation”, well…anything …is usually a load of marketing BS. Usually, you’re left scratching your head when you hear those words and then look at the feature list of the product that people are trying to sell. That’s just it really, much like “polish”, the words “next generation” is up there with “family values” and “concerned” parent groups when it comes to empty meanings.

Up to now, in terms of video game products, there is only one product that is truly generational…the Wii. Why? I’ve said it before…the interface to the player. The Wiimote makes it next generation. The 360 and the PS3 (*cough* abysmal failure *cough*) are not next generation. The only thing that makes them attractive to people is the shiny new graphics. They both still use the same old tried and true console control system. They still use the same old tried and true console gameplay. Nothing substantial…and I mean nothing…separates them from their previous incarnations.

In comes Age of Conan. I was not impressed by it’s feature list…and to some extent, I’m still not. I’ll have more on that later once I get my head around all of the thoughts swirling around. Now, one thing that AoC is doing differently is this “active” combat style. No….you can’t just press “1, 2, 3″ and still win a fight. As you progress, these combat combinations get a little more complex (…I have no idea what they look like at level 80…) and you need to pay attention to your screen in order to fight…and there it is. The secret to “next generation”, in my mind at least, is bringing the player into the game more. Getting the player to interact with the game at a different level. You can’t just up the graphics and then call it a day…and personally, I think that’s cheating the players and the industry as a whole. However, you want graphics, AoC has those in spades as well. Dear gawd does it ever have a nice look and feel to it. It feels like Conan. It looks like Conan…AND, it brings me in with a true next generation feature of a more interactive combat style.

OK…big frickin deal. So instead of pressing “1,2,3”, I’m now pressing “combo-power, 1,1,2″. Yeah, you are…hence why I’m talking out loud here and wondering how everyone else feels about this. Let’s assume that I’m correct about what “next generation” actually means (i.e. player interaction with the game)…am I full of it when it comes to calling AoC next generation just for this feature? Is it actually a game that is doing something different with player interaction, or is it a combination of elements within the game that is combining to give me this impression?

D out.

P.S. Yes…you can pretty much expect AoC posts for the majority of the week ;)

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