6 Game Franchises That Should Have Stayed Dead Or Been Reinvented
I’ve always been a believer in the idea that you can indeed have too much of a good thing, when it comes to things like movies and games that is. I’d much rather end on a high note, than ride the horse until it’s dead, go out with a whimper or kick the dead horse until there’s nothing left to care about. There has got to come a time where enough is enough and we need some new ideas. Sequels aren’t the problem. Over-doing it is, and creating sequels with barely any expanding or innovating being done. So, I’ll be taking a look at six game franchises that I believe should have either stayed in the past, or been reinvented entirely, and in each case I’ll explain why I believe so.
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God of War
The announcement of God of War: Ascension came as a huge letdown to me. The trilogy is right up there in my best games list, and I considered God of War 3 to be the most epic and perfect ending to the franchise, and the pinnacle of the entire series. It ended on the best note, featured the best epic moments, and delivered the best experience. Many fans would have sat back after finishing it, feeling overwhelmed with awe, amazement and definitely sadness at the series being over. However, all too soon it seemed, and out of almost nowhere, Ascension got announced as a prequel to the series. This really annoyed me because firstly we already have two prequels to the God of War series on PlayStation Portable, and you honestly can’t top what God of War 3 did in terms of scale and epicness, especially not with a prequel that happens way before the grand finale, and even the first game.
Out of all the options Santa Monica had, whether it would have been to invent an entirely new IP, or move onto another project, I believe they chose the safest and, honestly, lamest one. Yes, Ascension will probably be a good game, but I don’t really want “just a good game” as the next entry in such an amazing series, especially if the selling point is pretty graphics and multiplayer, which is something that was never necessary for the series. I was quite letdown also, because when rumours of a new God of War game started floating around, I was silently praying that the sequel would be a reinvention or something completely new. A new world, setting, story and character. I was anticipating something totally different, like a story through Norse Mythology for instance. Instead, we’re back with Kratos, and what makes this bad is that now matter how the developers dress it up, a prequel will always be a step back, unless it’s something like Deus Ex: Human Revolution where it was a complete reinvention.
I know Kratos is iconic for the PlayStation, and that Sony doesn’t want the God of War name to fade because of its popularity. But then, I feel the hype should be about the next evolution or completely new saga in the series, and not just more of what we know and expect, with multiplayer as the hype.
God of War should have been reinvented.
Prince of Persia
I’ll always harbour some annoyance towards the Prince of Persia franchise. The Sands of Time trilogy is one of my favourite series of games around, and we were all excited for the reinvention of the series with Prince of Persia 4. Now, I’m sure you may notice that many of the franchises and games I’m insanely in love with I’m often put off by their sequels, and that’s just it. I don’t like something I love being messed with, over-done or be given a sequel of a lesser standard to what came before. The problem with Prince of Persia 4 was that it ended up being more of a concept than a game. What with basically one or levels copy and pasted 25 times, some average gameplay mechanics and blatant attempts at dragging the game out. But, there was potential there. While I may feel the final product was mediocre, the graphical style was gorgeous and perfectly executed, the one on one combat system had a lot of room for improvement in terms of removing exploits and adding in variety, the platforming was extremely smooth and enjoyable and the design of the world was actually really great.
However, instead of expanding on this universe and trying to build from it, because it did have some innovative ideas, or just walking away and doing what EA did with Mirror’s Edge in leaving it behind, Ubisoft decided to do a rather bone-head move. It decided to go back to the original Sands of Time trilogy and try and fit an interquel in somewhere. There are few things that annoy me more than interquels, because of how extremely restricted they can be. I don’t really know any gamers who thought it was a great game, and sadly after fifteen minutes of playing it I started to already feel put off and underwhelmed, although I persevered. But, the biggest annoyance to me came when Ubisoft realised, after screwing around with the Prince of Persia franchise and eating away at its once great reputation, that Assassin’s Creed was far more lucrative, so they jumped all over it, released four soon to be five games and forgot all about Prince of Persia, leaving it lost in oblivion, few remembering it.
Now, I’ve heard before that Assassin’s Creed is the successor to Prince of Persia, but I strongly disagree with this. Prince of Persia’s success story is in its triple-headed gameplay staple of combat, platforming and puzzle-solving. These form the essence of the game, all three categories had to be top class in the Sands of Time trilogy. However, Assassin’s Creed does not focus on these three gameplay elements. There’s no puzzle solving to state the obvious, the platforming is of a totally different caliber and is designed around exploration rather than finesse and a means to look cool, dodge traps and time your jumps like you’re playing a platformer. The two games are completely different in every sense.
Prince of Persia should have stayed dead in my opinion, because it had its shot at reinvention and then did nothing after that but be forgotten and reduce its reputation.
I’ll probably get flack for this, and a ton of disagrees, but isn’t it enough by now? Halo was supposed to end back with the last game in the trilogy, but in a totally predictable turn of events we now have five games in the franchise, six if you include Halo Wars the RTS game, and there’s a whole new trilogy on the way. I’m no fan of Halo, but neither do I dislike it or feel much towards it. In fact having played it I know it delivers the goods with its multiplayer. But it’s just not for me really. However, when I look at the Xbox today I see Halo, Gears of Forza. All great games, but isn’t it by time we maybe get some new ones? I’m sure the Halo fanboys won’t mind having nine Halo games by the end of the new Reclaimer trilogy, but I feel there’s got to be a time where you hang up your boots and do something new. Surely Halo could have also been reinvented with this trilogy rather than just continued on.
I know some of you may think this to be a little contradictory of me considering that Metal Gear Solid is literally my favourite game series of all time, and that I’m highly anticipating Ground Zeroes, the next entry in the franchise. But there’s a simple reason for this. Aside from the obvious “I’m a fanboy” (Haha), I feel that the Metal Gear Solid series practically reinvents itself with every sequel. It keeps the core mechanics in tact, but each game is so different and innovative that you can’t really point to any one entry and say “That’s just MGS with new guns”. For me, that series demonstrates perfect sequels, and I’m happy for it to go on if there’s something innovative and exciting and new that can be done with it, rather than just getting more of the same. I would be unhappy if playing Ground Zeroes ends up feeling like it was yesterday I played an MGS title, and I know it will feel almost entirely new.
Will the new Halo series do that? Maybe, but I’d like to have seen something new. I think Halo could have been reinvented or stayed in the past, but of course it’s far too profitable to be left alone.
It’s safe to say that many know of my obsessive love for the original two Max Payne games, made clear in my Hall of Fame entry featuring the game. It’s also safe to say that these same people know of my surging dislike towards and annoyance with
Rockstar Max Payne 3, and my review detailed my exact thoughts on it. One of the biggest reasons I wasn’t happy to see this series return was because there’s nothing you can really do with it to replicate or outdo the original series, and Max Payne 3 proved that. Max Payne 2 ended the series perfectly, and it was a fantastic journey to an incredibly profound conclusion. I don’t like the fact that Max Payne 3 stepped in and ruined the beautiful silence with an obscenely loud fart. Yes, the majority of gamers who enjoyed Max Payne 3 did so for its gunplay and presentation. And yes, like I also said in my review, the game was a good shooter and it had amazing graphics, but it’s not anything like Max Payne, and I did feel it suffered from repetitiveness, being far too much like a standard cover shooter and having clunky mechanics in places.
Maybe I just love and care about the first two games too much, and most others aren’t likely to care as much as I do about the story, setting, characterisation, dialogue, meaning, themes and message. That could even be my loss as to why I didn’t like Max Payne 3 at all. But I do feel that the series should have stayed dead simply because there’s nothing to be done with it. It was complete. If Max Payne 3 didn’t exist, the story would actually be better off. It brought good cinematic gunplay, great graphics and multiplayer, but everything else that made the series so incredible in the first place just wasn’t there. I wouldn’t be surprised if Max Payne 3 is forgotten by the end of this year or when the next good shooter is out, but the first two games will always be examples of how to tell deliver an incredible narrative, create a powerful setting and how to present an atmosphere and story so well that gameplay almost takes a backseat. Max Payne 3 was a Rockstar title, and I feel they’ve done much better work than it.
Max Payne should have stayed dead in my opinion, and I do hope it doesn’t keep going on, especially since now after the ending of Max Payne 3, it has effectively ended twice, which is pretty silly.
I think this one just might be unanimous, and every gamer out there probably knows the story of Duke Nukem Forever already. There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said already. But, simply put, it should have stayed dead because the once great name of Duke Nukem from the classic days was turned into a seriously humiliating joke, with Duke Nukem Forever being one of the most confused, shoddy, backward and strange games I’ve played. Basically, after all those years in the making, the achievement (excuse the pun) was in actually releasing it. That was where all of the hype came from, and as a result of that hype and the series’ fame back in its era, it was a financial success but a critical failure. I guess because of that this won’t be the last time we see Duke Nukem.
It should have stayed dead though.
This game is one I wasn’t fully sure I wanted to put on the list for reasons mentioned down below, and in the end I just wanted to speak about it rather than declare that it should have stayed dead, so let’s put this title in its own bubble and talk about it like the title header isn’t there for a minute.
This will probably surprise you considering we’ve got a nice and shiny Tomb Raider reboot coming, but I feel Lara is a bit dusted. The most ironic thing of all is that she has been overstepped by Uncharted’s Nathan Drake, who initially drew inspiration from Tomb Raider until it completely became its own game. Now, I’ve heard gamers saying that the new Tomb Raider looks like Uncharted. Quite funny how the world works sometimes isn’t it? But the reason I’ve included this game in the list is because I feel that Lara Croft isn’t the icon she used to be. The excitement attached to Tomb Raider these days is a distant memory, and this is the ninth entry in the franchise after all. Furthermore, it has already been reinvented back with Tomb Raider: Legends, which was a great game and many believed it to be the rebirth of the franchise. The first game was even remade with Anniversary. But then Tomb Raider: Underworld, the series’ first steps onto current-gen consoles, ended up not getting the same spotlight, being disappointingly met with mixed to positive reception and initially failing to be a financial success until it later just met Eidos’ target expectations. Now, the series is being reinvented yet again.
All is fair, it has been five years since the last Tomb Raider game, and that was a similar amount of time before The Amazing Spider-Man rebooted the Spider-Man film series and produced what I feel to be the best entry next to the original. So maybe this is the only title on this list that I won’t outright declare should have stayed dead. I will say I included it because the Uncharted comparisons are worrying, not because they’re necessarily true but because we don’t want that stigma attached to the game.
I’ll sit back and hope that this game ends up being a complete breath of fresh air for the series, and I’ll hope that if it does end up making the impact that Tomb Raider: Legends did, that it continues to do so with its sequels and not repeat what Tomb Raider: Underworld did. So this game is the only entry on this list that I am hesitant about, but I do feel that gaming icons come and go and change with the times, and Lara Croft’s just isn’t the same anymore. I will take my hat off though to a complete reinvention of the entire series though, right down to the character herself.
If this reboot doesn’t do the job of reviving Lara and putting her back to the top of game icons, then I guess we’ll know that the series should have stayed in the past.