5 innovations that revolutionised gaming
So-called gaming ‘innovations’ normally disappear after a few short months, but occasionally they strike a real chord with players and stand the test of time. We’ve compiled a list of five genuine innovations that have truly revolutionised gaming, and show no signs of going away. And no, this article doesn’t include motion controls or instrument-shaped dust collectors.
Online multiplayer has been standard in PC games since the 1990s, but it wasn’t until the current generation that it truly took off on consoles. Whatever your thoughts on the PlayStation Network, its ‘gaming for all’ mantra was a big step forward for online console gaming; some might say you get what you pay for, but to be fair it does work most of the time (when it’s not been hacked).
In all seriousness though, the PS3 has shown that free online multiplayer on consoles really can (and does) work. Well, that’s assuming you enjoy getting killed by spawn-camping teenagers and sworn at by angry foreigners; at least, that’s what usually happens whenever we venture online. Maybe we should think about taking up a different hobby.
Cutscenes have been around for a few console generations now, but it wasn’t really until the PlayStation 2 era when they became an integral part of videogames. Grand Theft Auto III was arguably one of the first titles to use them as a major element of the story. The Hollywood cast list and fantastic script formed the blueprint to shape cutscenes for years to come.
For the first time in the history of videogames, players found themselves enjoying cutscenes, rather than merely forcing themselves to sit through them until the next section of gameplay. This paved the way for titles like Heavy Rain, which is arguably more cutscene than game; who knew one of the best games on PS3 would be made up almost exclusively of quick-time events?!
Before analog sticks were standard on gamepads, you could only move in eight directions, and controlling the camera was often a fiddly mess. Thank goodness for Sony’s Dual Analog Controller then; originally released for the PSone in 1997, it was eventually phased out to make way for the DualShock, which retained the dual analog sticks and added vibration feedback.
With the launch of the PS Vita earlier this year, dual analog sticks even made the jump to handheld consoles (get in there!). Of course, the PSP only had a single analog ‘nub’, which consequently means that whenever we play Uncharted: Golden Abyss on Vita, we automatically attempt to move the camera with the L and R buttons, before remembering the Vita has a second stick!
Whether you love them or loathe them, the influence of meta-goals in videogames cannot be understated. Although similar in-game challenges had already been around for years (Ratchet & Clank’s skill points are a notable example), Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was instrumental in advocating this kind of gameplay, with its innovative Achievements system.
In July 2008, Sony released its first Trophy patch, for awesome PSN shoot ‘em up Super Stardust HD, and Trophies finally became mandatory for all future games from the beginning of 2009. Since then, the never-ending quest for virtual silverware has dominated the PS3 time of many a gamer, be that for better or worse (most likely worse).
In some ways it feels like regenerating health has been around forever, especially considering that basically every shooter and action/adventure game includes the feature nowadays. In fact, this is another one we can thank/hate (delete as applicable) Microsoft for, after the feature was popularised in the Halo franchise.
Since then, regenerating health has polarised gamers, with many arguing that it makes games too easy and unrealistic; it kind of makes sense in Halo, but when you have human soldiers in Call of Duty magically healing themselves by hiding behind a car, something doesn’t feel quite right. To be fair, being instantly healed by a first aid kit is pretty unrealistic too, so let’s all just agree to disagree.