Someone Up There Likes Watching Me Squirm

   10/03/2006 at 10:54       Daniel Morton       3 COMMENTS.
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I realise this is going to make me seem ungrateful but I got a letter from work a couple of days ago telling me about a sizeable bonus I'll be receiving in my next pay-packet. This is killing me. So now I have a decent raise and a nice lump sum to contend with and GRAW is really calling out to me. There's more than enough money just made itself available to me to cover an Xbox 360, a video cable and a copy of Ghost Recon, but I'm determined not to crumble.

The whole "being powerless to resist" thing wouldn't have been an issue if the Xbox hadn't established itself as such a good online console. Ghost Recon 2 (the same which GRAW succeeds) was one of my favourite games on the console not because the single-player campaign was so compelling, but because it represented a stunning leap in online play. It didn't matter how many of your mates were online, GR2 adapted itself to the occasion and created a sense of comradery I'd never ever encountered before in my entire gaming lifespan. Now I'm reading accounts of people who've cracked open GRAW to invest a few hours into the game already and everything they're encountering just builds on the system that GR2 set in place.

It's this online experience that's going to make AND break GRAW. Because the game is so biased towards the online experience, the audience that buys it is going to be limited mainly to those that subscribe to Xbox Live. Also, trickle sales later in the day are going to be pretty much killed off as the online experience requires other people to be online at the same time. If a game's not "the latest thing" then the experience evaporates. This means if I do decide to pick up a 360 after the end of this ban there'll be practically no point whatsoever in my buying a copy of GRAW, regardless of how cheap it is, as if I can only play the single player game I'm losing out on more than 50% of the package.

This level of online integration is a canny move by Microsoft and their development partners in many ways. Even though all of my gameplay mates have moved onto Xbox 360, I'm still sat paying for my Live subscription as online scoreboard play is still very compelling in games like Geometry Wars, PGR2 and MotoGP2. Couple that with the fact that one day one of my friends may "lower themselves" to join me in a co-op game of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory or a race in Flatout, I'm still left paying my subscription fees like a chump.

Oh well, I'll kick the habit one day :-)
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