Not so long ago, everything was brown. The 360 and PS3 era was not, by and large, the best for fans of a broad colour palette: whether you choose to blame the widespread use of Unreal Engine 3, the popularity of the FPS, or something else entirely, the fact remains that we spent much of the first decade of the new millennium pining for a little splash of colour.
It says much for the industry’s current trajectory that, for the second time this year, we’re struck by a sudden chromatic explosion in the Hype section, faced with another selection of previews defined by bright, bold hues.
Splatoon 2 (p30) has, like its predecessor, colour by the bucketload, since it’s a game about painting a multiplayer map with as much of your team’s assigned pigment as possible. Nintendo may be one of the few remaining companies in the industry for whom vibrant tones are the rule, rather than the exception, but Splatoon 2, like its predecessor, goes a step further. Here, colour is not merely an aesthetic, but also a mechanic. That wouldn’t have got past the suits in 2007. The Surge (p38) couldn’t be further in tone from Nintendo’s breezy shooter, but this intriguing sci-fi spin on the Souls formula favours royal blues, rusty burnt oranges and wet, mossy greens over the usual brown and grey shooter uniform.
Volition is another studio that prefers the garish end of the spectrum, what with the fluoro purple of the latter-day
Saints Row games, and the cheery character-customisation tools that had us running around SRIV’s open world in a turquoise wig and shocking-pink leotard. The studio’s latest effort, Agents Of Mayhem (p34) – despite its lore connection to Saints Row and its stylised, ’90s-cartoon visuals – may not be all muddy greys and browns, but in the hands, as it is on the eyes, it’s as uninspired as any mid-2000s cookie-cutter shooter. It’s a timely reminder that colour alone does not guarantee a game a personality.