Is simply polishing a last-gen title enough?

Just released are a new bunch of new PS3 and 360 screenshots from Silent Hill: Homecoming. They look pretty nice, not ‘current-gen-effect-heavy-Alone in the Dark-nice’, but nice enough for fans of the series. But my question is this: Is simply polishing the graphics to a high sheen enough of a step-up now that the current-gen consoles are well into their life cycles?

I am not trying to damn Homecoming before I get any hands-on time with it, but from the screens it looks like it will play exactly the same as all the last-gen games in this series. Am I alone in wanting more from developers than a coat of polish? Even whilst playing GTA IV I have had some doubts, is it just GTA III with better graphics? On reflection I don’t think so. GTA IV does enough new things and throws up enough surprises to warrant the rave reviews that it has received, but this is not true of all games. I’m getting excited about God of War III, but as the gameplay of the first two games is so perfect how are they going to improve it other than just give it a graphical makeover?

I want innovation in gameplay over and above shiny graphics. I want more titles like LittleBigPlanet that offer a new gaming experience, not just a shinier one. Although I am on record as not being a fan of the simplistic nature of the Wii, I love the fact that they have tried to do something really innovative, and so, it seems, do the public.

I guess this lust for pretty graphics is driven by marketing. Most gamers are young(ish – ahem) males and we are excited by visual stimuli. I am a teacher of 11-16 year olds and when discussing games, the only thing the boys consider are the graphics. So it is obvious that game developers are going to strive for the ultimate graphical performance they can get so that they can make a nice trailer and shift plenty of units. I just wish the AI departments got a bit more of a look in as well.

I’m such a cynic.

[See also: Silent Hill: Homecoming gallery]