Genre pol­i­tics

EDGE - - STUDIO PROFILE -

Those of you old enough to re­mem­ber the days when we bought mu­sic from ac­tual, like, shops will know how use­ful genre could be. It was a handy way of find­ing what you were look­ing for – a way for the shop­keeper to cat­e­gorise, and the shop­per to home in on, dif­fer­ent flavours of mu­sic.

Per­haps the same is true of games, though our re­tail­ers have never paid too much heed to genre. Pop into your lo­cal sec­ond-hand store and you’ll find Nier nes­tled next to a NAS­CAR game, Street Fighter next to Syn­di­cate. Per­haps it’s for the best: on the ev­i­dence of this month’s Play, genre has never mat­tered less.

Take, for in­stance, Ti­tan­fall 2 (p112). This is, on the face of it, a sci-fi FPS. It has a great big ro­bot on the box, and an ar­se­nal of won­der­ful guns on the disc in­side it. But as a game it al­most de­fies cat­e­gori­sa­tion, a brainy puz­zle-plat­former with time-travel ele­ments in which it of­ten feels like shoot­ing things is the last thing on the de­sign team’s mind.

Call Of Duty: In­fi­nite War­fare (p110) sim­i­larly bucks con­ven­tion. Yes, you shoot things. A lot. But this is also a game of walk­ing, talk­ing and build­ing re­la­tion­ships. It’s a game whose great­est mo­ments come when you are in the cock­pit of a starfighter. It’s the least Call Of Duty- like Call Of

Duty game to date. Plenty of other games sim­ply defy cat­e­gori­sa­tion. What can we call Hit­man (p114) that doesn’t over­look its great­est achieve­ment – that it has ma­tured and im­proved over the course of its seven-month episodic run? Arkane styles

Dis­hon­ored 2 (p102) as an ‘im­mer­sive sim’, an off­puttingly dreary way of de­scrib­ing one of the most in­tri­cately de­signed games of the year. Genre can be use­ful short­hand, cer­tainly. But this broad church is get­ting big­ger and big­ger, to the ex­tent that short­hand is no longer fit for pur­pose.

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