Imagine, if you will, a separate reality not too far removed from our own.
Pixar have almost completed their heartwarming tale of a plucky wayward fish called ‘Finding Nemo’, and the excitement from all involved is palpable as the test audience begin to stream in and take their seats. Somehow, this test audience is an unwashed group of indolent fourteen year old cretins who spit in the aisles, spit on the chairs and spit on each other as the curtains rise and the feature begins.
And they absolutely loathe it. It’s too kiddy. There’s too many colours. There’s nobody getting stabbed or beheaded and there are way too few pop culture references to the most overpaid sports personality du jour. They’ve literally pissed themselves in disgust, swallowing bottles of Buckfast to drown out the boring image of that blue fucking fish on the screen and are busy vomiting themselves into a coma.
The company panics. How could this be, they wonder? The talent involved in production was phenomenal, the budget plentiful, all that love and care dedicated to it during development plain to see throughout every single breathtaking scene. The production company funding the project, Electronic Arts, gets involved. ‘We have to make it right for these kids,’ they say. Work begins anew at a frenzied pace to make it the best, most globally accepted movie that they’ve ever created.
End result: ‘Finding Nemo’ is now called ‘That Fucking Nemo Bastard’s Given Me The Fucking Slip Again’ and is about a convicted serial killing rapist targeting homeless prostitutes, slicing them apart in almost pornographic detail for the ‘enjoyment’ of the audience, and his lovable worried dad has been transformed into a broken down detective with a crack habit – who probably dies in the end with a hypodermic needle sticking out of his dick as he cradles the stiffening corpse of Nemo in his arms. That’s what the kids wanted, and that’s what the kids got.
Oh, and nobody fucking watches it because it’s now utter shit.
Sound insane? Not really – swap the title ‘Finding Nemo’ for ‘Overstrike’ and the second one for ‘Fuse’ and we’ve actually got a perfect replication of this seemingly insane ocurrance in our own reality. Hooray! Rejoice, everyone – our dimension is utter shit as well!
Don’t believe me? Here, watch this superb trailer of Overstrike – a fantastic looking game by Insomniac which features beautiful cartoon stylings, a great sense of humour and that rare breed of fantasy violence which is both completely effective in illustrating grievous bodily harm, yet performed with a lighthearted wink and a nudge. Go on, do it.
“The game started out with a much more stylized and campy direction. We were actually going for something on the level of Ratchet & Clank, except with humans,” Allgeier said. “Maybe it was going to appeal to gamers who, we thought at the time, might be in their late teens. The industry’s changed quite a bit… We would focus test the game in front of a lot of gamers, and get their opinion. These are people that regularly play PlayStation 3 and Xbox games. We started to discover that everyone thought this was a game for their younger brother. We would hear this from 12-year-olds. So we decided that we needed to make a game that had an older appeal.”
Congratulations Allgeier, all your artistic integrity just crumbled to dust in the face of some twelve year old brats. Next time do us all a favour and focus test it in a group that isn’t comprised of a bunch of clueless little arsepipes who scream ‘Dat’s fukkin mental’ whenever someone gets knifed through the eyeball in Call of Duty.
I can only hope that this nonsense is being farted out to keep EA happy. After all, CEO of Insomniac Games Ted Price literally can’t be serious when he says that Fuse has ‘gone through an evolution and a better direction for the game’ – a statement containing more concentrated PR shit than all the Septic Avenger missions from Saints Row 2 combined. If he is, we’d be as well give up. The industry is fucking doomed.
So, to appeal to all those moronic, bloodythirsty twelve year old tykes – who’re probably now the core demographic for this game – there’s a lot of stabbing, murdering and naughty language sprinkled throughout the still-warm corpse of Overstrike known as Fuse. I won’t link them here, but do check out the character videos on youtube. Squad Leader Dalton cuts the eyes out of a wounded enemy as he squirms under the blade, then Commander Shepar… sorry, Izzy stops smoking in her cell for a moment to negligently brush off news that she’s probably killed the Warden of the prison (‘Bastard shouldn’t have put his hands on me then’) and casually knifes several people in the stomach. Naya’s father slobbers into her ear, urging her to execute a bound captive at gunpoint. ‘He’s not a person’, he coos as she hesitates…
…It’s probably just an EA executive they’ve got strapped to a chair, then.
I’ve saved the best example for last, however. I shit you not, there’s a cutscene in one of the latest character trailers where Jacob can be seen cheerfully pouring a jerry can of gasoline over a car. ‘Do you know what happens to child killers?’ he asks the vehicle, like an idiot.
No, Jacob. We don’t. Tell us! TELL US! We’re positively enthralled by your manly disregard for the rulebook, and we can’t wait to find out what happens to these child-offing pranksters!
‘You can’t do this,’ squeaks the car. ‘You’re a fucking cop!’
‘Not tonight, asshole’ purrs Jacob, flicking his lighter at the doomed instrument of travel which immediately catches fire and begins screaming. Nissan’ll be having nightmares for years to come, mark my words.
Now, before anyone gets all silly and high strung on me and accuses this entire writeup of being a ridiculous comparison between a game with no existing gameplay footage and one where actual footage exists (even if it does look almost exactly like every other TPS out there), that’s not the point I’m trying to make – Fuse could still very well be a fun game to play. However, the trappings are now the same old shit we’ve seen half a billion times before. Military yawnfests instead of carefree spies, grimy mudslops instead of shiny wonderlands, arse faced wank instead of bold, wonderful vibrance. Stylistically, the initial design utterly dwarfs the reboot to a degree that can barely register on the human conciousness.
Don’t get me wrong either, I’ve nothing against a stiff blast of violence – but it has to be part of the initial design by a team who know what they’re setting out to do and have decided that it’s a necessary part of the overall package. Not a hasty turnaround by a bunch of money grubbing executives who’re petrified that some pudge faced yob will think the game’s ‘too kiddy’, or whatever.
So basically, never listen to arsefaced twelve year olds who think your game looks too kiddy, and never, ever hop in bed with EA. You’ll just come out with a sore arse and feel dirty and abused by the end, as Insomniac no doubt feel just a little too keenly right now. I mean, check this out – Insomniac are clearly so ashamed of the visual overhaul that even the box art’s been composed so that their faces aren’t visible. If that doesn’t prove my point, nothing on God’s green Earth will.
Next up: A breakdown of ‘That Fucking Nemo Bastard’s Given Me The Fucking Slip Again’ by Pixar.