An exclusive re­lease that feels gen­uinely exclusive


Re­mem­ber when you could look at a screen­shot of a game and have a rea­son­able chance of know­ing which sys­tem it was run­ning on? In the old days, com­puter and con­sole hard­ware gen­er­ated im­agery that felt unique to them: ZX Spec­trum games looked sharp but hor­ren­dously limited in their use of colour, and C64 games were chunky and a lit­tle washed-out. NES own­ers quickly be­came ac­cus­tomed to Nin­tendo’s muddy 8bit colour pal­ette, while Mas­ter Sys­tem users en­joyed a bom­bard­ment of lu­mi­nous reds, blues and greens that helped the con­sole im­per­son­ate the ex­cesses of Sega coin-ops such as Space Har­rier and Out Run even when it was other­wise so wretch­edly ill-equipped for the job. The N64/ Play Sta­tion era was the last one in which, from a glance at a screen, we could make an easy call be­tween com­pet­ing for­mats. To­day, the goal for the plat­form holder is to look at least as good as its com­peti­tor, not dif­fer­ent.

It’s to be ex­pected, given what’s go­ing on be­hind the scenes. Xbox One and PS4 are, tech­ni­cally, the clos­est rel­a­tives to have fought a con­sole war, with AMD sup­ply­ing the guts of both boxes. When you look at the games them­selves, Mi­crosoft was once the com­pany you sided with if you were se­ri­ous about shoot­ing things with a gun, but even that old rule is be­ing bro­ken down, mostly be­cause Sony has done such a con­vinc­ing job of be­ing like its com­peti­tor in terms of on­line play and core con­troller de­sign. All of this leaves the el­e­ments around the pe­riph­ery hav­ing to work harder to dis­tin­guish the plat­form as a whole – hence Mi­crosoft’s pur­suit of Kinect, and the in­tro­duc­tion of the Dual-Shock 4 Share but­ton.

As the videogame in­dus­try’s crawl to­ward ho­mo­gene­ity continues, In­som­niac’s Sun­set Over­drive looks like a game we can re­ally get be­hind. It is, as its cre­ators ex­plain in our cover story, the re­sult of want­ing to make some­thing that stands apart in 2014. It’s not an FPS, it isn’t swamped in browns and greys, and it has a weapon that launches vinyl records. For Xbox One and videogames as a whole, that feels like a vic­tory al­ready.

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