Quit while you're ahead, they say. Nonsense. What if Mo Farah had realised he was in the lead at 9,995 meters, and had a sit down? What if Alan Sugar had been satisfied with the CPC 464, and retired? What if Churchill had received the telegram about Hitler's defeat at Stalingrad, and gone down the Wethers? How different history would have been, most notably due to the absence of the Amstrad email phone.
But quitting is just what Naughty Dog will do following the release of Uncharted 4. They've confirmed this will be the final game in the series, or at least the last one developed by them. "[Nathan Drake] is at the height of his popularity, so it's not a good business decision," said creative director Neil Druckmann. You can tell he's creative because he's got a beard, and he doesn't care about money. "But I feel like the best way to honour him is to go out on top."
This reminds me of reality show America's Next Top Model, in which tall people compete to see who is the best at having their photo taken. And not just because of the bit in the opening credits where Tyra whispers, "D'you wanna be on top?" in a way that is so weirdly unsexy I always assume she is talking about bunk beds.
In the episode I watched the other night, the models queued up to be hoisted off a tower of shipping containers by a crane. They were then either dumped on another tower across the way, or dropped to the ground, indicating they had been booted off the show. Truly, the Reithian dream is alive and well on Sky Living.
This is how they chose to open the 22nd and final cycle of ANTM. (They're called cycles, not seasons or series, because fashion. Or possibly they're scheduled around Tyra's menstrual calendar.) It feels entirely appropriate, because it exemplifies what has happened to the show over the years - in a bid to justify the series' ongoing existence, they've introduced new rules, ideas, and stunts of increasing stupidity, to the point where the whole thing is insane.
I think the low point came in cycle 13, when Tyra made everyone dress up as two different races she appeared to have selected by throwing darts at a spinning globe. Laura got to be Greek-Mexican, Sundai was Moroccan-Russian, Jennifer was Polynesian-Botswanan, oh God you get the idea. Basically, in the name of celebrating diversity, they were made to black up and wear hats. It was as good as that sounds.
But that's television for you - money-crazed executives let a series hobble on for decades, padding out each sequel with ever more ludicrous ideas in the name of innovation, until the whole thing collapses under the weight of its own idiocy. That would never happen in video games, HA HA HA.
It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with sequels. Sometimes the original is so good you do want more of the same - I feel the same way about slices of pizza, glasses of wine, and pictures of Idris Elba pulling his jumper open at the collar.
Plus, subsequent instalments can often be superior. This is particularly the case with games, as opposed to films, because of the unique way technical lessons are learned during the development process, and the volume of feedback from players. Compare, for example, the sequels to Half-Life, Assassin's Creed, and Demon's Souls, versus Grease 2 and Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach. Although the bit with the suncream is genius obvs.
Problems occur when series go on and on, driven by financial factors rather than the desire to explore new ideas. I'm not even sure this works any more - Nintendo has banked on Mario, Donkey Kong and chums as money makers for decades now, yet finds itself in financial trouble. Surely the number of people who do a white weewee at the thought of a new Zelda game must go down every year.
Then there are the series that get more bloated with every outing. Ludicrous levels of violence and gore are shoved in, endless collectables and unnecessary multiplayer modes are bolted on, as if they're an adequate substitute for new ideas.
Which is fine, if you like that sort of thing. But while these studios are busy churning out more of the same, they're not developing ideas that are new and different. Naughty Dog could have kept making Crash Bandicoot sequels, or done more Jak and Daxter. But then we might not have The Last of Us, or Uncharted.
So fair enough, Neil Druckmann. I salute you for refusing to force feed your goose that lays the golden eggs until it becomes so bloated it explodes, splattering your reprehensible face with foie gras that tastes of avarice and capitalism. You should definitely do another Last of Us, though.
Meanwhile, it turns out cycle 22 might not mark the end for America's Next Top Model after all. I look forward to the opening of cycle 23, when the models will be selected via ducking in the manner of 18th century witches, with any surviving but unsuccessful candidates literally fed to sharks while Tyra shouts at them for being crap at smizing. Now that's entertainment.
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