Neither of the games were particularly successful at retail, but both enhanced my appreciation of EA as a publisher. Alice: Madness Returns was scorned for being derivative and classical in design, while Shadows Of The Damned was dismissed because of some poor gameplay decisions and an over-emphasis on mediocre gunplay. I'm willing to admit that neither of the games are particularly credible candidates for game of the year, and yet they're both imaginative enough to invoke a large dollop of goodwill in my reception.
Both Alice: Madness Returns and Shadows Of The Damned took balls to create and publish. In an industry dominated by sequels and dime-a-dozen first-person shooters, both games fit their own unique mold. Alice spends a good fifteen minutes letting you wander through a dark, twisted interpretation of Victorian London from the off-set, while Shadows Of The Damned introduces a range of bonkers gameplay mechanics, such as glowing goats-heads and transforming side-kicks. Both games are non-conventional and packed with creativity. While it was tragic to see both games struggle at retail, it was also something I expected. I'm told that a number of supermarkets refused to stock Shadows Of The Damned, which concerns me — but unfortunately makes sense. Neither Alice nor Shadows Of The Damned are mainstream titles. But imaginative titles still need to exist.
I always think back to a quote Shuhei Yoshida made regarding The Last Guardian. I can't track down the exact words, but he basically explained that Team ICO's titles don't exist to sell millions of units, they exist to push the video game medium forward and bring new experiences to the industry. That quote's always stuck with me.
I think it's the reason so many people have a venomous dislike for Activision. I personally don't mind that the publisher has turned Call Of Duty into a gigantic cash-cow — I actually rather like the series — but it would be nice to see the publisher invest some of its profits into a project completely different. Now credit where credit's due, Activision's tried new ideas with Singularity and DJ Hero, both of which had pretty muted releases. But the company's bottom-line can surely take such endeavours. Activision doesn't need to invest heavily, just enough to get some new ideas on the market. The company seems obsessed with massive franchises, but surely there's room for new ideas to compliment them. Who knows? The publisher might accidentally stumble upon the next Call Of Duty in the process.
And that's why I think EA deserves some credit. The publisher must have had its eyes open when it signed up Alice: Madness Returns and Shadows Of The Damned. It knew neither game was going to perform exceptionally well at retail, but it still put budget and marketing muscle behind the titles, and I appreciate that. Neither game is perfect, but they are both unique and enjoyable experiences in their own right. EA will make its money back with blockbusters like Battlefield 3 and FIFA 12 later in the year — both of which seem more palatable after sampling EA's more creative endeavours.
Its rumoured that Twiggy has spent the past several months touring with avant-garde dance troupe Cirque Du Soleil. The anonymous PushSquare columnist is still on the run from the British monarchy on account of treason. Twiggy was last sighted eating an Asda branded ham and cheese sandwich in Grimsby.