Publishers, take heed: Three franchises that need to return0 Comments
As an avid video game player, there's few things that sting worse than watching a favorite franchise wither on the vine. A developer comes out with a great title, sequels get made, and then things change somewhere along the way. Maybe it's the publisher getting heavy-handed in development, or maybe it's the fact that the pursuit of something new and different pulls the franchise away from what made it so fun in the first place. Either way, seeing a great series fade away into obscurity is painful, especially when new hardware advancements could mean better versions of what came before, or more complete realizations of concepts that were too large for the time in which they had their heyday. Here's three such franchises that need to be brought back in a big way.
This, to me, is the quintessential arcade racing experience. The Burnout games are unrealistic as hell, but what it lacks in actual-world accuracy, it makes up for that in terms of sheer, unadulterated fun. High speed, easy drifting in corners, and the thrill of blasting unlucky opponents into walls equals an experience that never gets old — ever. From the basic PS2 / Xbox original to the near-perfect and expansive Burnout Paradise, each game brought something new to the table without losing the magic that branded each title as part of the Burnout family.
EA has since pushed Criterion Games onto other projects, and as such, this team's true talent is effectively wasted. Burnout was the perfect antidote to both the meticulous real-world driving simulators in the vein of Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, but it also made a mockery of lesser arcade-style driving games in the same breath. It's a franchise that deserves another shot at life in what's soon to be the 4K era, and if you need someone to blame for it not being around, point the finger at Electronic Arts' need to make (almost) everything about Madden, FIFA, Battlefield and Star Wars.
Personally speaking, this is my number one, all-time underrated game series. Period. Descent had its debut in the time where first-person shooters were the new thing, and instead of being the last space marine against demons or the last regular marine against Nazi robot dictators, Descent did things differently by changing one single aspect of the FPS formula. In Descent, you were the pilot of a small ship that was sent into extraplanetary mines to quell a deadly robotic rebellion caused by a mysterious computer virus. As you, the player, inhabited the inside of a craft, you had a full six degrees of motion available to you at all times — roll, pitch and yaw were always at your command, so you were no longer locked into strafing along X/Y coordinates, nor were you limited by your jumping ability to provide elevation.
Instead, you could freely maneuver within a three-dimensional space, which allowed unparallelled levels of control when it came to engaging hostile threats. The claustrophobic nature of the mines made heated battles tense, because the only limits you had in firefights was what operating room a corridor would provide...and whether or not you could keep your aim true while circling an enemy and getting over (or underneath) them. There's been spiritual successors and games that serve as homages to the series, but there's never been a franchise quite like Descent since, well, Descent.
I have a soft spot for weapon-based fighting games, as certain people that work here can most definitely attest to. However, there's one franchise that hasn't seen a good, quality sequel in many years, and that's Bushido Blade. The game itself stood apart from every other fighter at the time — and even since — by focusing on a more realistic depiction of weapon-based combat. There are no time limits, and there are no health gauges. If your character was hit in a non-vital area, that limb would be crippled and remain that way. If you got hit in a vital area, you'd die. Due to this, the game became more about patience in the face of extreme tension, because one false step or careless opening would spell certain doom.
With the current move to virtual reality well underway, a revival of this concept would be a welcome addition to my library. I would love nothing more than to duel someone in the virtual space, and I think these sort of gameplay experiences are going to be necessary for these platforms to set themselves apart, as they can only be achieved through these control and viewing methods. Even if it were controlled with a traditional gamepad, I think this could be a fresh idea brought back to life. Traditional fighting games are still going strong, but I'd love to see tournaments that didn't rely on executing combos or flashy attacks, and I'd really like to see high-tier play from people outthinking their opponent for that one moment in which the match is decided. That would be far more entertaining than anything else, really.