Beyond: Los Santos – the choice

In just about half an hour the Beyond: Two Souls premiere event will take place in Paris. The new game from Quantic Dream is, arguably, the biggest PS3 title to be released before PS4 comes out in less than two months, alongside Grand Theft Auto 5, which premiered two weeks ago. The Rockstar blockbuster has gotten excellent reviews, with the Metacritic score of 97. Earning more than $1 billion in less than 72 hours it’s also the fastest selling entertainment product in history. Still, I haven’t bought it yet and I seriously doubt I will play it on PS3. It might sound outrageous but I have my reasons to hold out on it and make B:TS my priority, so let me explain.

1. PlayStation Plus

psplus

I paid the equivalent of around $65 to get this excellent offer from Sony. It gives me 3-5 games per month, one of which is usually a AAA title, which can last for tens of hours of play. Taking into account the fact that I like to go 100% with the games I play, it is easy to calculate that there simply isn’t enough time for me to play everything. There are still some great games I got from PS+ in my backlog, including Spec Ops: The Line, XCOM: Enemy Unknown or Saints Row: The Third, to name just a few. In light of that I tend not to spend too much money on new releases because I know that there’s older games that I can play that can bring me much entertainment. I make exceptions now and them, the most recent one being The Last of Us. That game is amazing but it can be beaten in less than 20 hours, which I don’t believe can be said about GTA 5. By the way, I’m not saying that I beat TLoU in one sitting… I’m also not saying that I didn’t do it.

Buying GTA 5 now would push back the PS+ games even further down the line and I don’t want to do it. I want to make full use of this offer and if I want an open-world game I can always play Saints Row or Just Cause.Β  On the other hand, I don’t see any games even close to what B:TS is on the PS+ games list. Also, unless I decide to play all the possible paths in the game (I will… eventually…), it should take less time than GTA.

2. PlayStation 4

ps4

I seriously doubt that GTA 5 won’t be ported to next-gen consoles. Rockstar simply have to do it, don’t they? I’m betting they will bring it to PC, PS4 an XBone as a GOTY edition with all the DLCs that will come along the way. It may take them a year but it will get there. If you think about the difference in the hardware between the two console generations it’s easy to image what the game would look like on the new iterations. Then again, maybe it’s not that easy, seeing how amazing the game looks right now. The increase in memory and CPU speed will give the developers relatively unlimited resources to work with and the final effect will be beyond (pun intended) our expectations. I’m willing to give up the instant gratification of playing GTA now in order to get the ultimate experience somewhere along the line.

Beyond: Two Souls is a PS3 exclusive and that’s it. Quantic Dream must have some plans for the next-gen consoles and their potential is immeasurable, as could be seen in the amazing Sorcerer Demo they released after E3 this year. The core of B:TS is the story, unlike GTA. In order to avoid spoilers this game should be best played on release day. I did that with TLoU and I wasn’t disappointed. I could go back to Twitter soon after and listen to gaming podcasts without the fear of the game being spoiled. I believe this to be a similar situation. I don’t care that much about the GTA characters, although Trevor seems like an interesting fellow. However, I need to know what happens to Jodie and how Aiden came to be and… I just need to know it and I need to experience it by myself.

3. Quantic Dream

heavy rain

Back when my PC could still play games, I came across an interesting title calledΒ Fahrenheit (also known as Indigo Prophecy in North America). I am a fan of old-school point-and-click adventures (Broken Sword is still my favorite series) and I had read somewhere that Fahrenheit was sort-of an adventure game. It is as far from point-and-click as it gets but right from the start the novel controls and the exciting story kept me coming back to it. At that time I had no idea who Quantic Dream or David Cage are but I fell in love with the game. The many ways the story could unfold, the characters, even the quick-time-event-based scenes such as the basketball game or the dancing made me understand that this is something special.

And then came Heavy Rain. By the time I got the game I still didn’t know there was a connection between the two titles but as soon as I started playing there was no questioning this is another gem from the same developer. Although the QTE-based gameplay is not for everyone and the game didn’t avoid some glitches (JASON!! JASON!!), again the story and the characters were amazing. This was as close to a movie experience as I ever got playing a game. My wife wanted me to continue playing so that she could see what happens next to the four protagonists. In a recent interview, David Cage, the mastermind behind Quantic Dream, said that that was often the case. Non-gamers loved watching the game be played by others. That’s what I call great story telling and character building.

There can be no doubt that as far as those two elements go, Beyond: Two Souls won’t be a disappointment. Using star actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe in main roles is something game developers have never done. All the actors have done both motion capture as well as voice recording which adds to the realism of the experience. The QTE interface has also been toned down, based on the demo I played. The reviews are obviously not in yet but I have yet to be disappointed by what the people at Quantic Dream have done so I believe the trend will continue.

All that being said, I also think that Rockstar consists of extremely talented developers and artists. I’ve spent countless hours playing Red Dead Redemption both offline and online. I got a platinum trophy in that game after all. The story was excellent and not at all predictable. Add to that the mission variety, random events and an unusual setting and you have a recipe for an amazing game.

Still, I think that the revolution that Rockstar bring to the genre of open world games is not as significant as the revolution that Quantic Dream bring to the entertainment industry as a whole. Rockstar have stretched the limits of what the player can do in an environment that takes literally hours to explore. Quantic Dream have married various entertainment media in a way that slowly removes the boundaries between movies and video games, pushing storytelling to new heights. To me, personally, the latter sounds much more appealing.

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9 thoughts on “Beyond: Los Santos – the choice

  1. My only thought is that Beyond will be move of a movie and less of a game. While GTA allows for much more interactivity in the world and freedom, beyond will play more like a cut scene with quick time events. I’m sure it will have a compelling stories but I would not classify it on the same level as GTA its more of an point and click adventure.

    Still sure it will be good but GTA is going to get GOTY this year.

    1. The level of interaction in GTA is for sure much higher. However, I prefer the feeling that my choices make a significant difference in the world of the game. The ‘no game over screen’ idea that Cage implemented in B:TS sounds very appealing, too. What I mean is that there already are games like GTA. I think B:TS will be ‘more revolutionary’, several steps ahead of Heavy Rain.

  2. I guess it’s all the matter of what makes one gamer brain play, immerse and finish the game. I get bored with all the sandboxes within half an hour, but the interactive movie idea works great, even with sometimes dull QTE or some linearity.

    It’s great that guys at Quantic Dream still want to push that idea forward. It’s not so new anyway – Phantasmagoria, Black Dhalia etc. Heaven’t heard of B:TS, looks promising.

    BTW, I’m dreaming of a title that would mix a gameplay such as Heavy Rain, with oldschool point’n’click puzzles (with clever hinting system not to get stuck for two long). Blade Runner The Game for instance was close to perfect. If only somebody would make a remake with up-to-date graphics. Ah, dreams πŸ˜‰

    1. Phantasmagoria, Black Dhalia… that brings back memories πŸ˜‰ True, the mechanics are not new but the execution by Quantic Dream is something else. In those old games the cut scenes were live-action, if I remember correctly. At that time it was amazing but I don’t think those game have aged well. However, Black Dhalia used big Hollywood actors, too.

      This I don’t entirely agree that open world games are boring story-wise. I really enjoyed the story in Red Dead Redemption and GTA 5 sounds fine too. I understand where you’re coming from, though.

      There is one significant problem with adventure games translated into a Heavy Rain-like environment. The inventory. I don’t imagine Ethan Mars running around keeping all those screwdrivers, pieces of cake, bugs, etc. in his pockets πŸ˜‰ The realism goes out the window with that. And if you limit the number of items you can carry the magic of games such as Broken Sword or the Monkey Island series is gone. You could cut the game into smaller pieces where you only need a couple of items but that wouldn’t be the same. I don’t exactly remember how they did it with Blade Runner. It was more of an investigation story than a straightforward adventure game, right? I remember that I really enjoyed it πŸ˜‰

  3. First of all, awesome post, sir. Although I don’t completely see eye-to-eye on the matter, as you know, Quantic Dream has been one of my favorite devs since the days of playing Fahrenheit on my now ancient gaming pc. I’m constantly impressed with David Cage and his team, and I ‘shiver with anticipation’ for the release of their next installment of emotional, cinema-quality entertainment. I have no doubts that GTA V will eventually come to next-gen consoles, but considering it was designed for PS3 and Xbox 360, I don’t believe a next-gen equivalent will perform any better, aside from the greater potential of online functionality. “That being said…” Have you tackled the demo for B:TS yet? I plan to download it later today and would love to hear your thoughts. As always, game on! πŸ™‚
    -Joe

    1. Hey Joe, thanks for sharing your comment. Yes, I have played the demo – I used a Gamestop code I got from their FB page on my US PSN account to be able to play it before I had to leave for two weeks. The official demo was released on October 1st and I got it two days earlier. I only played it once and I did everything ‘right’, i.e. I didn’t get caught or hurt that much. I lost Jodie’s jacket in one of the struggles and I wonder if this will have an effect in the game. I really believe the point of this game is that even those small things, when combined, change the environment and the story. I don’t mind the controls and the way Aiden works in the game. However, Jodie is giving you a lot of hints as to how to use Aiden, really telling him what he should do. Again, I haven’t tried not to do the things that I’m supposed to to see what changes. I won’t be able to play the demo again, since I get back home after the game is release so I will play the full game. Obviously, the graphics and sounds are great, motion capture is top notch. You have to give it a try, for sure.

  4. If only it wasn’t for this guy I would have already been enjoying myself over sleepless nights with GTA V. I was this close (my thumb and pointing finger are now nearly touching each other) to buy the Blockstar Rockbuster…I might got it wrong…I would be even eager to lend my copy to plpalo after a few weeks of play, but now I am completely in two minds, or rather in two souls. Nevertheless, very interesting lecture, beacause of it I am more prone to PS+ than I had never been before.

    1. Geeeeeeeeeeet it. PS+, I mean. Also, get GTA5 – maybe they will fix online by the time you play it πŸ˜‰ I’ll come by, I’ll kick your butt in King of Tokyo and then we’ll run over pedestrians and shoot hookers with shotguns – seems like a fun day.

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