Let’s Try That Again: Reboots

Franchise reboots seem to be a big thing lately.  Batman got a reboot, Spider-man just got one, and while I was sitting here, planning to put off work for another day, I happened to catch the trailer to the bright, flashy, and 100% more Irish reboot of Total Recall that’ll be releasing soon.

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Also, Kuato will be played by Peter Dinklage (We wish).

 

The same trend has also been happening in games.  After all, there are plenty of franchises where a developer screws up, teams get house-cleaned, and someone in the company decides they start wanting to make money off a “safe” game series again.  It worked for Mortal Kombat, it worked for Twisted Metal (kinda), and they’re trying to do it with Tomb Raider next year.

This is all well and good, but I get the feeling there are some franchises that I feel are more deserving of a second look.  Here’s a few games I feel could stand to get a fresh start.

Tekken:  A fighting game series near and dear to my heart.  As of late the plot has become a million crazy threads of ridiculous character relationships, a malevolent god representing evil (or whatever the hell Azazel is), a seemingly villainous protagonist, and a family of douchebags (Mishimas) that are the only people to have real plot relevance.

The Reboot: Paul Phoenix, the greatest martial artist in the world enters a martial arts tournament to pay off the expenses on his new motorcycle.  He tears his way through the tournament, fighting a colorful cast of characters including a disco dancer, several small Asian girls, and a schizophrenic in a Jaguar mask.  The final battle is with an army of Korean pop idols formed from the DNA of the former tournament winner, Hwoarang.  Along the way, buttons are mashed, faces are punched, and Mishimas are ignored.

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Those Koreans have vicious okizeme.

 

Resident Evil:  Largely credited with creating and/or popularizing the survival horror genre, Resident Evil is now all about ridiculously trained super-soldiers with John Woo sensibilities to their gunplay unleashing two-fisted fiery hell upon poor, innocent zombies, thereby releasing tension from what used to be something that was a little bit scary.

The Reboot:  Claire Redfield, Journalism major and avid horror movie blogger currently attending RCC (Raccoon Community College), is at a campus kegger when a batch of T-virus is released (Umbrella was contracting professors to unwittingly research the virus).  Now Claire and a misfit band of terrified college students must escape the city, despite having no training, little physical ability, and their only weaponry being strong political views and a mild grasp of rhetoric.  Along the way, guns are scarce, zombies are plentiful, and pants are soiled.

Monster Hunter:  A relatively Japan-centered game franchise where you kill giant monsters and dragons, then build new weapons out of their body parts to kill other giant monsters and dragons.  Hasn’t managed to get that much purchase stateside because of a game style that’s unforgiving and mechanics that don’t change much from installment to installment.

The Reboot:  In 2050, the world is overrun by bio-mechanical “Wyverns” created by unchecked nanomechanical research and a floundering sense of ethics in the scientific community.  You’re a rookie hunter tasked with making the world a safer place by destroying these monstrosities, and you do so by making new weapons out of the bodies of your quarry.  Along the way, horns and scales are harvested, the future is undecided, and the game is released in America on a console other than a damn handheld.

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Pretty please, Capcom?

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Running (Un)scared: Survival Horror and Me

I’d say I’d miss the survival horror genre, except the genre’s beginnings weren’t all that survival-y to begin with.  In the first Resident Evil you played one of two members of an elite paramilitary police force; not exactly the cart wrangler at the local grocery store.

At E3 this year they showed off Resident Evil 6, and it was indicative of the natural progression the series has taken with recent iterations.  Agile, lithely-built protagonists who carry pairs of high-powered handguns in either fist and have perfectly straight and capped teeth run around gunning down zombies without a really suspenseful moment in sight.  Everyone’s either a highly-trained government agent, a spy, or some kind of soldier.

It’s not really horror if your reaction to seeing a zombie horde is “Oh, awesome!”

 

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I think I’ll use the rocket launcher this time.

I know there’s enough people out there arguing for more titles where you play as an everyman thrust into an intense situation.  This is why I used to prefer the Silent Hill series.  The main characters in those games have been writers, store clerks, teenage girls and the like.  Average people with average weapons.   There’s something visceral and enchanting about being forced to bash an animated mannequin’s head in with a length of steel pipe.  And the terror comes from knowing you are an average person dealing with crazy, horrific occurrences.

But still, survival horror gives way to action horror, and it worries me that we’ll see a genre disappear.  The latest Silent Hill iterations have been less-than-stellar, despite showing an upturn toward the more highly regarded parts of the series.  Dead Space, while a good starting point for survival horror, felt like it was starting to get more action-oriented in 2.  I think a good rule of thumb is if the game starts adding in weapons that give you the power to torture enemies and exercise and element of control, you’re losing some of the “survival” part.  How scared could I possibly be of enemies when I have a gun that lets me impale them, then run an electric current through their body so I can watch them dance around like a shoddily-constructed marionette?

The Amnesia:  Dark Descents are few and far in between at this point, and we’re being inundated with heroes with big, glistening muscles and big, glistening guns starring in games that wouldn’t know suspense if it stalked them down a hall and didn’t bite them in the ass, but somehow jump out of a closet in front of them.

I want horror games where I play a Wal-Mart greeter, or a schoolteacher with a classroom full of kids, or a handsome, burgeoning blogger.  I want a game where my character’s normal life is turned upside by horrific occurrences.  I want more games where I know something is following me, but I never, ever get to look at it because it’s toying with me.  If I get to fight, I want to fight with hilariously ineffectual weapons that only serve to heighten the sense of “I’m so screwed”-ness.

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Big magazine, but the stopping power leaves something to be desired.