Mobile gaming needs a killer app to prove itself
22nd Jul 2013 | 14:30
Bags of potential, but where's its killer title
It's interesting that Peter Molyneux has insisted mobile gaming has yet to have its standout moment, and it's clear that he feels that he could be the person to provide just that.
He's working on a god game called Godus, and his often quirky view on how the real world and the gaming world collide will hopefully provide us with a standout title.
Because, frankly, the mobile world is in desperate need of a mobile game that truly allows it to ascend from its current place as a place for (often great) casual games and puzzlers to a genuine platform for creativity.
That's not a criticism of the likes of Doodle Jump or Angry Birds, just a desire to see a game that is held up alongside its console brethren.
I've recently been playing though Deus Ex: The Fall – a game which has left me with hugely mixed feelings. The control mechanism – normally the bane of the hard-core gamer with a touchscreen – is actually really rather good, complete with a moveable UI and some neat touches.
But the game still falls frustratingly short in areas that, frankly, it could have aced with a little more effort.
Yes, it's cheaper than a console title by a considerable margin, but I simply cannot accept that as an excuse for some genuinely horrific voice acting and the fairly quick realisation that you may as well shoot your way round rather than think too hard.
'Secret' routes are too obvious, I can only imagine because it's harder to get around on a touchscreen – and it's all too easy for exploring in this sort of open world to break the narrative.
And this is, in so many other ways, a great example of how to do an immersive game for an iPad. If it had been given the kind of polish shown by the likes of Angry Birds: Star Wars where clarity of thought and humour shines through often enough to make it a deserved winner, it could have been great.
I loved Deus Ex: Human Revolution and I have thoroughly enjoyed its iPad follow-up/prequel edition; I just wish it had built on its potential to become something I would recommend to anyone looking to take the step from casual and puzzler to a more core gaming experience.
There are obvious drawbacks to a touchscreen – buttons have remained a constant in the world of gaming for fairly obvious reasons – but it also has advantages.
People often talk about the need to quickly quit and resume mobile games as a disadvantage, but Molyneux and several other innovators have talked eloquently about the fun that can be had with these transitions. Making real life bleed into a game could be a wonderful way of making our mobiles a unique and thrilling experience.
And, as I found with Deus Ex: The Fall, I was much more prepared to explore every nook and cranny in a way that I perhaps wouldn't on the PC or on a console. Just like those people that want three stars on every puzzle, I felt the need to touch every corner of this little open world; the boundaries encouraged this rather than made me feel too hemmed in.
I completely get the assertion that we should look to move beyond old thinking in the way that tablet and phone games work, but that doesn't mean that we should accept that gaming is inferior on these devices.
Mobile gaming will keep on getting better, but it needs a killer app, and soon.