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Review on:
Splinter Cell
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Danger: Innovations ahead!
Probably hundreds of game designers are now struck speechless and cannot help but wonder why they haven't come up with such an idea themselves. The Sims prove beyond doubt that a good idea doesn't have to be complicated. Apparently the most ordinary of topics imaginable, running the household, suddenly turns into a life's work. Never before has cooking, cleaning and educating been more entertaining than with The Sims. World wars, ghastly aliens or hideous orks pale into insignificance in the face of the question, whether I'd better send my Sim to the sofa right now to increase his comfort value or whether it's best to let him go to the toilet beforehand so that he can relieve his bladder.
 
Unfavourable development:
The SimsUnfortunately, games like The Sims have become rare. On the one hand this is up to the fact that virtually any topic has been used more than once in various games, and on the other hand that the gaming industry has grown out of its infancy and become a growth industry. As a consequence, decision-making powers no longer lie with the programmers alone, but increasingly with the publishers funding their upcoming project. After months of (costly) development, they are intent on making some profit out of the sale of the game. And according to their opinion this is facilitated by producing sequels to successful games such as the much-cited Tomb Raider, MechWarrior or Might & Magic. Existing programm code, engines and story lines help saving costs, while sequels need to be less advertised due to their already well-known original versions.
 
Sequels and their drawbacks:
Lara CroftNo objection to that, one might be inclined to say, but coming up with a sequel doesn't automatically comprise the licence to mint coins. Given such sloppily programmed titles like Might & Magic 8, one starts doubting the effectiveness of such a corporate policy. Or just take Wing Commander 4, which was lavishly produced but resembled more and more a full-blown movie while neglecting gameplay aspects. Another example is the often-qouted Tomb Raider, whose first and second instalment were highly addictive, but which lost its shimmer with number three and four. That doesn't mean that the third and fourth instalment are crap - far from it, but at some point you're fed up with the ever-repeating game procedures. Up to now, all four games have been successful, but sales are gradually dwindling - players are yearning for something altogether different. To all supporters favouring the "sequel policy" goes the The Sims's message that an innovative idea can be more than successful as well. Publishers seem to lack the courage, however, to promote new concepts - the risk in case of a financial disaster is too high.
So why buy sequels?
AoE 2Naturally, sequel isn't the synonym for less fun and lower quality. Will Wright, creator of The Sims, proved with Sim City that two sequels do make sense and can easily compete with rival products on the market. Also titles like Civilization II, Jagged Alliance 2, Age of Empires 2, Ultima IX or Heroes of Might & Magic 3 give credit to the opinion that well-programmed sequels are indeed worth their money. What all these games have in common, however, is that the developers took their time before giving their consent to the game's release. Therefore, they had enough time to integrate useful modifications with reference to graphics, story and gameplay - things that gamers generally honor. Often, players call for a sequel (as was the case with the abovementioned games) because they like to return to a familiar, atmospheric game environment. This is doomed to failure, however, if companies produce games in less than one year time to throw their 35th instalment of the XY series onto the market to profit from the upcoming Christmas season. Then they'd better take another year to develop a game like The Sims...
© 2000 by CE

 
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