Old games never die, they just rage quit and respawn. Gaming reboots and sequels are more common than ever, with publishers reluctant to invest big money in risky new IP.
Last week Epic announced they’ll be blowing the dust off the Unreal Tournament franchise, and at least some of the development is going to be in the hands of fans themselves.
It’s not often that gamers get this level of input though, and the news that an old favourite is getting a sequel/reboot can leave you with a sense of dread. Below are five titles that left fans of the originals reaching for their BFGs.
It’s difficult to imagine the pressure involved in making a sequel to Doom. While Wolfenstein 3D might be the true granddaddy of them all, Doom was the game that really brought the FPS to the masses. When Doom 3 was announced expectation was high. It was still being developed by Id after all, and have you seen those screen shots?! It’s going to be great isn’t it?
Could you hold my flashlight please?
Well, yes and no. Doom 3 wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but the gameplay and atmosphere were a trip to Phobos away from the original. Shrouded in a perpetual darkness, Doom 3 had ambitions of being a true horror movie experience.
Unfortunately this resulted in a linear approach to level design, and an over reliance on cheap shock tactics. Monster cupboards abounded, and the new flashlight mechanic frustrated a large amount of players.
All that being said, taken as a standalone game I think it holds its own. It’s just not Doom.
A whopping 19 years passed between the Bullfrog classic I enjoyed in my youth and the EA reboot in 2012. After nearly 20 years, my rose tinted specs were so thick that even a faithful remake would have struggled, but what EA served up was a slap in the face.
No longer an isometric RTS, the powers that be decided that the best thing to do with this unique IP was to turn it into….another FPS. Apart from a cyberpunk theme, little survives from the original series. Destructible environments, gone. Open approach to missions, gone. Research and strategy elements….well, take a guess.
The only consolation about this blatant attempt to cash in on a great games legacy is that it didn’t work. Selling just 150,000 copies world wide, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing Syndicate being violated again anytime soon.
X-COM Interceptor, Enforcer and The Bureau
The excellent Firaxis 2012 reboot aside, XCOM is possibly the most abused franchise in history. The original 1994 turn based strategy defined a genre that it is arguably still the master of, yet developers seem intent on trying to move that success into more mainstream games.
The rot set in as far back as 1998 with the release of X-COM: Interceptor. In a doomed attempt to replicate the success of the Wing Commander and X-Wing franchises, Interceptor was a space flight sim with X-COMish research slapped on for good luck.
Enforcer – you can see its strategy roots…
The game flopped but did have small following, which is more than you can say for the real turd in the punch bowl – X-COM: Enforcer. A mindless third-person shooter, Enforcer couldn’t have been further from the series roots.
2013’s The Bureau: XCOM Declassified rounded off the multi-decade long abuse with a tedious and confused third person tactical shooter. Let’s just leave the XCOM stuff to Firaxis from now on shall we?
Duke Nukem Forever
Unlike the rest of the games here, Duke Nukem Forever failed as a follow up because it didn’t change from its 1996 predecessor. In ’96, Duke was funny. It was never clever mind you, but it was at least funny. It was also innovative, with destructible maps and interactive environments.
Fast forward to 2011, and DNF resolutely ignored 15 years of gaming advancements – apparently hoping you would too. This isn’t entirely surprising given the games epic and convoluted development cycle, having first being announced in 1997!
Stay classy Duke!
You’d think with a decade and a half of development you’d be in for something special. What we got was a barely strung together mess, with outdated gameplay, visuals and humour. What happened Duke? You used to be cool.
Aliens Vs Predator (2010)
The whole concept of AvP is confused and fraught with danger from the start. An unlikely meld of two popular iconic series, both games developers and movie directors have struggled to square the circle.
Somehow in 1999, Rebellion managed to do it in the form of an innovative first person shooter. Allowing the player to experience the action as any of the main protagonists (Human Marine, Alien or Predator), it absolutely nailed the atmosphere of the movies. It was followed in 2001 by a flawed but still passible sequel.
At this point everyone should have called it a day, patted themselves on the back and gone for a pint to celebrate, but unfortunately in 2010 they decided to have another crack.
No problems Mr Smith, just a quick polish and we’ll see you in 6 months
From the awkward and unbalanced multiplayer to the contrived and heavily scripted single player, AvP 2010 failed to impress on almost every level. The Predator campaign was especially disappointing, being scripted to the point that the player could only leap to predefined points on the map.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about AvP is how well it did. Despite having a Metacritic score in the mid 60’s across all platforms, it still grossed £14 million in the UK alone and became the bestselling Aliens game of all time. Still, at least it’s better than Colonial Marines…
Disagree with the above? Maybe I’ve just slated one of your favourites, or perhaps I’ve missed a crime against gaming. Either way, let us know in the comments below.