Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pokémon and the Evolution of Battling, pt. 1

It's been too long since I last posted on this blog, due to reasons (mostly) outside of my control. I've been inspired to write some articles about Pokémon. In this case, I'm looking at the evolution of Pokémon into a highly competitive game.

Over the last month, I finally picked up a copy of Pokémon Y - one of the two games in the newest pair of Pokémon releases, and the first for the Nintendo 3DS. I've been having a blast with the game and went through its story in about 60 hours - now I'm spending my time with it by putting together new teams and new strategies. 

Pokémon, as I'm sure you're aware, is an exceedingly popular series of role-playing games where you capture monsters and pit them against each other. It's one of the crown jewel franchises of Nintendo, and despite its cute appearances, the games have reached a point of incredible gameplay depth.

Calling Pokémon a children's game is a fair observation while at the same time being an oversight. With over 700 species now available, the sheer number of approaches that a Pokémon player can craft, practice, and finally execute are nearly infinite. The game, at a high level, plays out like a more intricate chess match.

What started out as a game for the playground (I wasn't really into physical activity all that much - being asthmatic certainly meant I took it easy) has turned into one of the more complex games that I enjoy on a consistent basis. We used to bring our Game Boys, and during those precious recesses and lunch hour breaks, a good handful of us at my elementary school would get together and play Pokémon.

Back when there were only 151 Pokémon, when the appeal was "catching them all", we played together to reach a common goal. We would trade to evolve the few Pokémon who had to be traded to do so, and to obtain Pokémon exclusive to one version of the original Red, Blue, and Yellow games.

We learnt the way that the original 15 Pokémon types played off each other, and what each of the 165 moves did (that number has swelled to 609 moves in the 18 years since Pokémon was released in Japan). I remember that nearly everyone would load a Pokémon with moves that matched its type, until every time you saw a Fire type (for example) it had four different Fire type moves. We were young, and we didn't understand concepts such as "type coverage" - a concept I will explain in a later article.

What we did understand is the fun we had playing Pokémon. Even in its initial form, Pokémon had a very accessible battle system. Your Pokémon had five determining statistics, HP, Attack, Defense, Special, and Speed. These were predetermined by their species, as well as by sets of values considered "invisible" - they were part of the game's code, but couldn't be checked by any in-game process. The way this worked could fill an entire article, and I'll go into it a later date.

Along with up to four different moves, these stats were key in figuring out how a Pokémon battle would go down.

HP determined how much damage a Pokémon could take while Attack determined how much damage a physical contact move (such as Tackle, or Take Down) could do - Defense was the other factor in that equation and it decided how much a Pokémon could resist a physical move, lowering the damage accordingly.

Special played a duel role. It was used to figure out how much a non-physical move could do, while also playing the other side of the equation - it was both the Attack and Defense stat for special moves. It would later be changed into a Special Attack and Special Defense stat, which fixed several balance issues.

Speed is pretty self-explanatory. The order of turns in a Pokémon battle relied on the Speed stat - a higher Speed meant a faster Pokémon, and that Pokémon would be able to attack first, giving them an inherent advantage. That's not to say that a slow Pokémon is always a bad one, they often traded off Speed for better stats elsewhere. 

For most Pokémon, completely rounded stats don't exist, and learning how to use their stats effectively is a big part of higher level play, while only finding its way into casual play from time to time. You don't have to be particularly choosy in a normal run of Pokémon to get through.

In the first set of Pokémon games, the balance needed work, including the aforementioned Special stat, which lent itself to creating a few overused Pokémon who had high Special and could run through other Pokémon with the right moves. 

With only 151 Pokémon, the match ups tended to get stale quite often and several types of Pokémon weren't well represented in both their number and their moves. For example, only three Dragon-type Pokémon existed in the first generation, and there was only one Dragon-type move - Dragon Rage, a move that would always do 40 HP worth of damage no matter the opponent.

Game Freak, the game's developer, would work in a new set of changes in the next generation of games that would fix some of these issues while adding depth to the games. In Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, that is when I feel Pokémon battling started to get serious. 

And that's what I'll be talking about next time.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Special: Horror Games!

Tonight, while the forces of evil and the damned walk the streets, I've decided to stay in. It's not that I'm scared, or that I'm too old to go door to door for candy. Most days, I could probably pass for an age where it's still acceptable.

I haven't dressed up or anything, but if it helps, I'm keeping the lights dim and playing some scary music. It's time to talk about horror games!

Horror games, much like the movie genre that helped to inspire them, come in a lot of different types. It's not easy to pin down the specific qualities of a horror game, and they're definitely subject to a lot of variations depending on the kind of horror game we're looking at.

My "unholy grail" of horror games is Silent Hill 2, Konami's unsettling, darkly psychological game that still feels like a nightmare I've had. Sure, the game had some issues - the control isn't great, and the English voice acting is pretty cheesy.

Forget all that stuff for now - the atmosphere of the game and the story it tells are both incredibly well done, and draw you into a thick fog that keeps you disturbed and uncomfortable. Coupled with the music, wonderfully put together by Akira Yamaoka, Silent Hill 2 pulls at you from so many directions. It has poignant moments of near-clarity that lapse into that thick fog, and the music is always there to set the scene.

To me, the set up of the plot is the ideal way to do a horror game.

Simply put, Silent Hill 2 starts off by letting you know what it wants you to, and it's not a lot of info. The main character, James, is in Silent Hill because he got a letter from his dead wife, telling him to meet her there. We don't get a lot of information, rather, we start in the midst of a kind of mystery.

That's really how I like my horror games to present themselves, and thankfully, it's a common setup. We're often thrown into odd situations that expand as we get further in, and if you're playing a well written game, you're not going to see the next step coming.

Another thing I see as a key element to horror games is tension. Part of tension is the actual difficulty of the game. Horror games shouldn't be too easy. The other way I consider tension is the thought that plot-wise, dangerous or unexpected things can happen whenever they damn well please. In a horror game, nothing should be sacred.

Earlier this year, I played Deadly Premonition - known fairly commonly as the most divisive horror game ever made. What I played is the director's cut, which updated the controls, the graphics, and some other stuff.

The interesting aspects of Deadly Premonition are its open world, and just how insanely wacky the whole damn game is. It's really difficult to describe the weirdness of the game - the characters are just strange, their interactions make very little sense, and by the end of the game, the big mystery is answered... sort of.

The best part of Deadly Premonition is how the game only takes itself seriously when it has to, which is during the murder parts (and even the murders are oddly comedic with the right set of eyes). Otherwise, the game feels so bubbly, somehow so 'light' that it makes itself more unsettling.

It's as if the moral center of the world collapsed, and good luck making sense of any of it. Every time something terrible happens in Deadly Premonition, something equally weird is on the way, ready to change the tone and put you through emotional whiplash.

If Deadly Premonition suffers anywhere, it's the combat. It's repetitive and pretty much dreadful, with the melee weapons being nearly useless in most cases and the guns hardly feel interesting. Early on, it's possible to do extra missions in the open world to obtain infinite ammo versions of the good guns, and trust me - you'll want them, because reloading takes too long.

There isn't much for tension caused by difficulty in Deadly Premonition, which is unfortunate. Luckily, there's a lot of tension caused by the plot and the depths of its dark comedy.

Now that I've mentioned action and combat in the terms of a horror game, it's only fair to examine that type of horror game a bit. I'll admit a bit of personal bias here; I'm more inclined to go with horror games that focus on the "psychological" aspects. I like my games disturbing and creepy, with a focus on what's not 'happening' rather than what is.

However, one of my favourite games of all time, regardless of genre, is Resident Evil 4. I spent a lot of time playing that game during my high school years, and even today, I find it holds up extremely well. It's an incredibly fun game with great weapons and even better situations in which to use them. And once you beat the game, that's when it gets excellent.

Unlocking Professional mode is where Resident Evil 4 takes off, because it ramps the difficulty up extremely. Remember what I said about tension? On Professional mode, Resident Evil 4 has tension in spades (if you're playing it without a New Game +, and if you've never done this, go do it, trust me!). Every situation is a few inches away from death.

In order to get through it, you need to be smart, and you need to be good. Even though the creepiest parts of the game come incredibly late, there isn't any need for that kind of thing at this point - the Professional mode has already provided us with one of the most nerve-wracking games in existence (although I admit part of this might be that I'm probably not very good at the game, although my hours and hours in Professional mode should have made me a master).

It's hard to strike a perfect balance between gameplay tension and atmosphere. I'm really not sure if any game has pulled it off. Even in the realm of horror games, you can't make a game blindingly difficult and expect it to sell, especially nowadays. Horror games have another commonality with horror movies - they became very popular, so they have a wide (potential) audience.

So, what happens to the horror game now? What are developers aiming for?

Frictional Games did horror justice with Amnesia: The Dark Descent in 2010. Played from a first person perspective, they did an amazing job balancing the two types of tension. By taking away access to weapons, the player is forced into a "flight" reaction whenever enemies appear. There is no fight, so you need to get the hell away - but monsters are fast once they spot you, and Daniel's sanity starts to wane.

Keeping your sanity up is crucial, because you don't want Daniel hallucinating and drawing attention to himself. Sanity has been played with in other horror games, like the wonderful Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (a game that I've played far too little of), but I really like how The Dark Descent dealt with it.

I haven't gotten around to playing A Machine For Pigs yet, but I've heard good things about it, keeping in line with the previous Amnesia game. I'd love to give it a try soon.

I feel like the evolution of horror games is heading in the direction of increasing the action more and making them more playable. While I agree that making a game fun is important, horror games may not need to be as fun as others - they should be restricting.

They're built unlike other games: the amount of connection to the player should be high, and frustrating the player should be crucial. Scaring the player depends a lot on the player, but horror games can do it, and I've seen it done. Whether it's a jump scare, or just a downright sense of dread, I've seen it, and I've been there. The horror games I enjoy get much more of a rise out of me than other genres, and I like that.

In closing, I know there's so many more games I could analyze or talk about. If I left out a game, it's not a completely conscious choice - there's a ton of games I haven't gotten around to playing that I know would fit into this discussion. But for now, this is my take on some horror games and what makes them work.

Have fun with your tricks, and maybe your treats, everybody. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf - a review

Animal Crossing: New Leaf
a video game review
developed by Nintendo EAD
published by Nintendo
for the Nintendo 3DS & 2DS
score: A

This is a story about how I lived a second life during the summer of 2013. At the same time, it's also a video game review. For a game like Animal Crossing, it's important to look at it in a different way. I've compiled my notes, and I've tried to recreate my experience as best I could.

The train ride into town and the questions from an aptly named travelling cat called Rover set me up for a new life in a town I'd never seen. I was curious - what kind of people lived there? What would I be doing with myself once I got there?

For the first couple of days, I spent my time nearly homeless; I lived in a small tent and started to introduce myself to the townsfolk. They were kind and accepting of me, a human in a village of animals. Of course, they had their expectations of me, but I'll tell you about that later. I watched each villager as they wandered around the town, living their strange lives.

I spotted one of them fishing, but never catching anything. At times, they'll carry their bug net around, but I've never seen one try to use it. At this point, I only talked to them outside - I had been too scared to go to someone's house. I still felt vulnerable, but it would only be a matter of time before I adjusted.

It didn't take long before I became the top dog in this town of Hyrule. I shook pears off the trees and brought them to the local recycling store, a place owned by two llamas called Re-Tail. One of them, Cyrus, was always sleeping at his desk - his wife Reese never letting me near him. She didn't want me to disturb him. But other than that, Reese was always one of the nicest people in town. Cyrus must have spent his nights doing something, but what?

It wasn't my place to know, so I went about my business. I stuffed my money (in Hyrule and towns like it, they call it Bells) into my pockets, and used it to pay off the first of many payments on a house. Tom Nook, the local real estate magnate, had strong armed me into getting a house, and basically contracted himself into building it. Strangely, he doesn't expect immediate payments - he just loans the money and you can pay it back at your leisure.

To be honest, I did like my tent. Even though it was small, and all I had to keep warm was a lantern. Getting a house did seem like the smart thing to do.

I did ask myself why I'd been forced into getting a house like this. It all started a few days before, when I stepped off the train.

To my surprise, the villagers were waiting for me by the train station. Right away, they told me that they had been expecting me - after all, I'm going to be the new mayor of Hyrule.

Wait a second, what?

I felt my eyes grow wide, and I tried to talk my way out of this situation. To make a long story short, it didn't work - so let's go back to my being homeless, for the time being.

I took my leftover Bells and went up to Main Street, Hyrule's shopping promenade. There wasn't a lot there; a tiny general store, a clothing and accessories shop, a post office, Tom Nook's business, and a museum that I learnt was empty.

I chatted with Blathers, the owl who works as curator for the museum, and he asked if I could offer my assistance. With what? Well, I did mention that the museum was empty. He wanted me to find bugs, fossils, sea creatures, and paintings - all for the purpose of donating them to help Hyrule's cultural development.

I'd be doing this for no real compensation, of course. A bit confused as to why the town had a museum in the first place, I reluctantly agreed. Soon, filling the museum would become a routine in this new life of mine.

I needed some tools, so I walked over to the general store. One of Tom Nook's sons greeted me with a ton of enthusiasm, and I bought a shovel and a fishing rod. The bug net would have to wait, they didn't have one in at the time. Every day, the store's stock changes. How they decide what is on the shelves from day to day, I'll never know.

Later that day, I'd been talking with the townsfolk and learning about them: I felt drawn to a lazy dog named Walker, who loves sleep and food. I wanted to bring up that I couldn't possibly be mayor, but Walker clearly wasn't the right person to voice that concern towards. Enough was enough.

I ran to town hall, determined to get to the bottom of this. Isabelle, the secretary, wasn't having it. I tried my best to explain my case, but nothing worked.

I had to be the new mayor. After all, the village had been waiting for someone to step off that train, and I'll admit, I did get off that train.

My theory is that this is all Rover's fault. I mentioned him earlier, from my train ride. I think he set me up, and I ended up taking his place. Thanks to me, he kept his freedom and got to keep wandering the world. I mulled this over in my tent that night, sitting in the glow of my lantern, eating a pear.

Why was I just sitting here and waiting in this tent? Maybe, just maybe I could get back on a train and get the hell out of here?

Well, no. I tried, but a monkey in a conductor's outfit kept asking me what sort of town I wanted to go to. Home wasn't an option, and when I tried to tell him I wanted to go to a faraway town, he told me there were no towns available.

To bring up a very important question again...what?

This whole place is crazy. I didn't feel like I was in danger, but it became clear that there isn't an escape from this town. Rather, I'd have to get used to it. At that point, it clicked.

Being mayor finally made sense to me! I've never been one for political aspirations, but I had the power in my hands to turn Hyrule into a place I wanted to live. If I wasn't getting out, then I'd just have to turn Hyrule into my town. I fell asleep that night, ready to give it my all.

The next day, I had a house - say what you will about Tom Nook, but his people work fast. Now that I had a roof over my head, I had some new goals. Shovel in hand, I went out to look for fossils - strangely, their locations are marked, and even stranger, there are only four fossils per day. All of the energy I had the night before changed into apprehension.

The questions about Hyrule were piling up.

Was this some kind of game? No one else seemed to care about the obvious cracks in the ground. They would just walk on by, often more interested in me. The weirdest part is once I got the fossils to the museum. I don't know a lot about paleontology but it's clear that it's a complicated thing. Not for Blathers, apparently.

He assessed all four fossils in the blink of an eye, and informed me that they could all be donated to the museum. He didn't have some sort of guide, he just managed this from a cursory glance.

As if it was becoming a theme of my time in Hyrule, I had another theory. The mind runs to mysterious places when you're in a place like this.

So, here's what I think. Hyrule's lovely museum was once full, and every night, Blathers is out there, burying the next round of fossils for me to find the next day. Then again, there were days I would find fossils I've seen before, so this whole thing is hard to unravel. There's something going on, I know it - how else could a small town like Hyrule even have so many fossils in the earth?

Luckily, finding a fossil again isn't a bad thing. I figured out during a trip to the Re-Tail that as long as Blathers had assessed them, copies sold for lots of Bells. Fossils became my major income. They kept me wearing new clothes and buying items to decorate my house - quickly, my time in Hyrule became about fulfilling my material desires.

Maybe this fossil conspiracy helped me keep my sanity, rather than eroding it. At this point, it was time to take things to the next level.

To do that, I had to captivate the hearts of the villagers - Isabelle told me that I needed a high approval rate before my permit to enact mayoral duties could be finalized. I knew I needed to make this town my own, and this was going to be the only way. I went to sleep that night, excited for what to come.

I got up early and I put on my best clothes. Nothing too fancy though, I wanted to connect with my villagers, not alienate them. I chatted with them, and one thing started to become obvious. They were nearly helpless without me.

Even though I've seen them shake trees, I have to pick fruit for them if they want some. Despite the bug nets they own, I've never seen them catch a bug for themselves. What would they do without me?

This has to be another part of the plot. They're desperate to keep me here as long as they can. At least it's keeping a roof over my head. Speaking of that roof, I was beginning to run out of room underneath it.

All of this had my head spinning. I didn't feel like I was in charge here. My wants were forcing me into all sorts of work. My fossil gathering continued as my biggest money maker. On bad days, I'd have to go down to the beach and pick up shells, hoping to make a few Bells.

After a while, my bank account grew, and I bought a wonderful couch called a 'ranch' couch. Not only was it comfy, it was stylish - made of light brown wood framing blue-green cushioning. I loved it so much that once I learned that the 'ranch' style was a set of furniture, I spent months gathering it. I even bought wallpaper and flooring that matched it, tying the whole room together.

My home in its latter, better days, complete with the Ranch series.
During that time, my house had to grow to accommodate everything. What Bells I didn't throw towards the ranch set or into my back account, they went to Tom Nook. I built an upstairs bedroom, expanded my ground floor, and built a roomy kitchen.

The home is probably the most important aspect of everyone's lives. In Hyrule, redecorating your house and trying to match your furniture is the "in" thing to do. The villagers didn't quite get it - they would often throw off their themes and sets with random items (typically, given by me when they asked for something new). And there's a reason for trying to make your interior as appealing as possible.

Before I tell you about this, I've got to warn you. If you've ever had issues with personal space, or the safety of your home... this may get your paranoia levels up. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Every day, strangers will find their way into your house as you sleep. What exactly are they doing there, you ask?

According to their boss, Lyle, a river otter who speaks like a mob boss, they're rating your home for the organization called the Happy Home Academy. Lyle set up shop in Tom Nook's business, and I spoke with him nearly every day to hear the numerical rating of my house. 

Once it gets high enough, the HHA starts sending your prizes in the mail. Incentives aside, it took me a while to adjust to HHA employees coming into my house. And you'll never see them do it, which is the worst part. But like all the other weird stuff in this town, I got used to it, and I eventually stopped sleeping with one eye open.

All good things come to an end, though. I came back to this place - you know, the apartment with the computer that I've been using to write this story. When I get a chance, I'll wander back to Hyrule and see how everyone is doing. Sometimes, I've gone back to find that one of my friends has moved away - it's a sad feeling. 

When it happens, I go to Hyrule's coffee shop and get my usual. I'll set there and contemplate for a little while, and the sadness passes. I thank Brewster, the pigeon who brews some of the best coffee I've ever drank, and then I'll go do what I do - talk to people, catch bugs... whatever I feel like doing.

Hyrule isn't my second home anymore, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf is no longer my second life. 

Sometimes, I'll be staring out a window and lapse into a bit of a dream - the view of Hyrule is great from here, isn't it. Somebody is waving at me, and I'll wave back. 

Who are they again? It's been so long! Maybe I should start planning a vacation? I'm sure I'll see you soon, Hyrule.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Games and Us Review Score Guide

Hey everybody. Games and Us will soon be publishing its first video game review. We're going to look at Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS. Before we do that, it might be useful to understand a little bit about how reviews on this website will work, and how the scoring system operates.

First off, Games and Us reviews will not be simple breakdowns of the categories we often used to see in many reviews. We're not about graphics, or sound, or even gameplay - unless we decide that they need to be focused on, and even then, we're not just going to assign it a number or throw buzz words (like amazing, wonderful, decent, etc...) at it.

Part of the idea with game reviewing on Games and Us is to tell a story, if not always the most serious one. Games are often about a wonderful romp through something, whether it's a battlefield or a set of beautiful obstacle courses. Games are about ideas and things, and those aren't the kind of things that we can just quantify. Each game is reviewed in a way that focuses on the experience.

That being said, a ranking/score idea helps connect with the reader in some way, so here at Games and Us, we've devised a way. Games will be given a score on an alphabetical scale, like many of us should be used to. The scores will essentially break down in the following manner, however, the review itself will contain the sweet details and the real interesting parts - it's one hundred per cent recommended to read the review.

These scores are incredibly subjective, and the definitions for each aren't concrete, but they're decent guidelines.


A+ : This game is reaching for perfection, but no game is perfect. However, this game comes highly recommended - you can expect a lot of fun, a very unique experience, or something incredibly interesting. Chances are, games with an A+ are all three of those things, and more. These are the kind of games that one might call 'important'.

A: This kind of game is one that should be played, and it does things really well. Sometimes, there might be a slight flaw, or the experience has some issues from time to time. Whatever these flaws may be, they don't detract from the game too much, so make some time for these kind of games.

A- : A game with an A- is much like a game given an A, it's really good at what it does. This rating is used when the game simply doesn't offer up enough, whether the game is too short, or has issues that affect it more than the issues in a game given an A.

B+: Now we're getting into the more problematic side of things. We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves, a B+ game is still a good to great game. However, the experience has seen its fair share of compromise, or it simply isn't interesting enough - with some improvements, this kind of game could be one for the ages. As it is, it's a good game but there's not enough to set it apart.

B: This is a good game, but like the B+, there's nothing setting it apart from other games. The formula has been done, the experience is difficult to distinguish. We like this game and what it offers, but what's stopping us from playing something better?

B-: There's a problem with the game, and it's stopping us from really getting into it. Whether it affects how we play it or how we experience it, there's something in there that could have been fixed or changed. As it stands, this is a game that's striving to be good. While it does make it, it's not by much.

C: A mostly mediocre game with some good ideas that don't work as well as they could, or if they do, other parts of the game bring it down so much that it can only live or die by the strength of its few good parts. This game usually manages to live.

D: This is the game that a C game turns into when those few good parts we mentioned are not strong enough to hold things together. With a little bit more, they could be the glue. We don't recommend playing a game like this, unless you're really curious about why it doesn't work. This is the more forgiving cousin of an F, and the more common cousin, too.

F: Get this game out of our sight. This is bordering on intellectual insult, and there's very little fun to be had. It takes a lot for a game to get an F. It's as hard for a game to actually get an F as it is for a game to get into the A range. Usually, something this bad is usually entertaining for all the wrong reasons - but occasionally, a game will come around that is completely void of enjoyment.

And that is the very loose way of interpreting the game scores at Games and Us. Will this guide ever be useful? Hopefully a bit. Again, the only real way to read a review is to...well, actually read it.

With that, we hope to see you soon with our first video game review!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Looking at the Grand Theft Auto V Budget

Recently, the budget of Grand Theft Auto V, the newest entry in Rockstar Games' popular series of open world crime epics, came to light.

At a staggering US$266 million, Grant Theft Auto V is the most expensive video game ever produced.

Many video game stores throughout North America and the U.K. will be doing a midnight launch on the 16th of this month, ready to sell to crowds of excited gamers.

In the United States, reported nearly three million pre-orders for the game between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game.

It's clear that the popularity of the series hasn't declined since Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008. Global sales on the first day for that game totalled 3.6 million, a figure Grand Theft Auto V seems poised to surpass if the American pre-order totals are anything to go by.

Without information from Rockstar, it's hard to know where the majority of this budget went. Using big budget movies as a comparable model, the first big difference between a video game and a movie's budget is in the cast.

Amazingly, only one movie surpasses Grand Theft Auto V in terms of budget. At World's End, the third movie in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, cost US$300 million. The film's lead actor, Johnny Depp, is likely to have made more than the entire voice and motion capture casts for Grand Theft Auto V.

Disney is a company that has routinely thrown around hundreds of millions for its movies, especially in the last 10 years. Big budget movies can often be a gamble, and Disney isn't free from failures either. In 2012, Disney's John Carter made only around $US288 million at the box office, barely more than its $250 million budget (not including any money spent towards marketing).

Rockstar Games doesn't have to worry about this game being a failure. Estimates look at Grand Theft Auto V selling over 20 million copies in next year, and it should generate at least a billion dollars in revenue for the company.

Another interesting thing to consider about this budget is that it aims to bring an entirely different experience than a big budget movie. A movie lasts a fairly small amount of time compared to even the average video game (with a narrative); a game might last 10 hours, a movie will aim for two to three.

Some games find a way to provide 40+ hours of entertainment, whether it's through repetitive content or the narrative actually telling a story for that period of time. Grand Theft Auto V's epic approach to the crime-fueled thriller, as well as its focus on three protagonists (and at the same time) rather than one.

In a way, you can look at the budget of Grand Theft Auto V as being spread out over time, rather than a movie's is spread out over its numerous employees. Have you ever sat through the credits roll for a blockbuster film? They're long and just packed full of names, everyone from the Director of Photography to each individual artist from every firm involved.

Grand Theft Auto V stands to be one of the most successful video games of all time. Early reviews are lauding it from every angle. With its release looming, is this the start of an era of true "big budget" video games?