We don’t get very many surprises in games anymore. The moment when Metal Gear Solid 2 “really” begins stands fairly solitary in the pantheon of truly shocking events in our industry. But 2012 marks an interesting time where developers -for better or worse- are beginning to actively go out of their way to fool the player. I have no idea what makes this year the year to finally do it, but keep reading to find out why I think 2012 got its bait-and-switch on more than nearly any other year.
The first game to really bait-and-switch me this year was Phil Fish’s Fez. Call it ignorance on my part or a clever lack of informative press, Fez somehow managed to trick thousands of people into buying what they thought was a cute indie platformer and getting a strange facsimile of Myst instead. Whether you loved it or hated it, you have to admit that if you bought Fez without reading about it, you got something much different than what you expected. I have my reservations about actually playing the game, but I did enjoy actually being surprised for once.
Spec Ops: The Line hasn’t been shut up about for the past month around Twinfinite. Between Mike’s constant chanting of “GOTY, PEACE, I’M OUT” and Muaz muttering “I’m still a good person” over and over quietly in a corner, I think it’s safe that Spec Ops: The Line was a bait-and-switch that worked. Starting as a game that goes ridiculously out of its way to seem like a carbon copy of Call of Duty’s bombastic Michael Bay style, it gradually morphs over time to become something that’s quite the opposite. Whether it’s wholly successful in its endeavors is a worthwhile debate, but I say give 2K Games points for even trying. It’s a shame that the bait-and-switch is the only reason to play the game and very few who aren’t already expecting it will experience it like that.
Lately, War Z is an amazing example of a bait and switch gone wrong. Releasing as a (from all accounts fairly bad) Day Z clone, it was almost immediately turned into even more of a cash grab. Players now had to wait four hours after death in order to respawn… or pay with real money to respawn immediately. This, of course, led to the game being pulled from Steam. The real surprise was that the game wasn’t just a piece of crap. It’s a piece of crap that wants to steal your wallet, too.
More recently, there was that time that you read an article claiming to be about the bait-and-switches of 2012, but was actually just an excuse to post this compilation of Sweet Chin Musics by Shawn Michaels onto Twinfinite.