By James Hawkins in Lists!
Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 11:00 am
And while it can be debated whether or not the "first-person" perspective of storytelling is right for these games, the cold truth is that we're seeing the beginning of a trend. Like Hollywood, the video game industry is turning nostalgia into a source of income -- culling cult hits from the 1980s and 1990s to mutate into the new age. So, we're taking this idea and running with it. We know it'll probably be controversial. But we're going to do it anyway. These are ten games that would be awesome reboots for the seventh generation. Enjoy!
What it is: Berzerk released as a directional shooter arcade game, way back in 1980. It became famous because it was the first game to feature the death of the player. Gamers controlled a single human character who ran through thousands of mazes, shooting hostile robot enemies, all while trying to escape a giant, persistent smiley face called Evil Otto. The orb could kill you in a single touch.
What it could be: I see Berzerk as a straightforward frenetic action-shooter. In the original game, there was no plot, only fearsome Otto and robots that were dumb enough to kill each other and themselves as they released flurries of bullets into the open spaces. That could be a main function of the game -- you must escape through a cavalcade of sprayed ammunition, while being hunted by an unstoppable creature with a big, yellow smiley face. Find your way to freedom. Slap a simple conspiracy theory plot in there and you'll have yourself a complete game.
What it is: The Age of Empires franchise was one of the pioneering real time strategy series of the 1990s. It featured massive, challenging battles that could be fought by any number of historic empires. Each group had its own flagship warrior, and throughout the campaign, players were taken on some of history's most compelling and important military crusades. It truly was one of the biggest and most inventive RTS out there.
What it could be: I'd like to see this game through the eyes of a foot-soldier. Choose your character -- a warrior in Saladin's army, a Teutonic Knight, a pillaging Visigoth -- and be a part of the large-scale war that is going on around you. Run alongside machines of war and play out historic battles throughout time. And rise in the ranks as you go.
8. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain
What it is: One of the first real bastions of quality video game scripting, this vampire action-adventure game quickly won the hearts of discriminating gamers way back in 1996. It spawned a series of fantasy titles that have become cult classics, and was praised for its exciting use of magic and skills, along with the deep lore that surrounded it.
What it could be: Build Blood Omen like the most recent Elder Scrolls games. Allow players to inhabit the body of a vampire as he seeks revenge on those that killed him in his previous life. The magic, the transformations into great beasts, the combat -- all those would be available through the eyes of the main character. And emphasize exploration and discovery -- those two features are prominent in first-person titles nowadays, and the Legacy of Kain games have always boasted them.
What it is: Before Rockstar North became Rockstar North, it was DMA Design. And before the release of Grand Theft Auto III, the team produced Nintendo 64's Body Harvest. It slipped beneath the radar of many, but for those who remember it, the game was unlike any other. It featured a wholly open world, with cars, weapons, and landmarks that begged to be explored. Also, you controlled a superhero (not too different from Spartan 117), who fought off massive aliens and tried to save small 1960's villages from destruction. It was awesome.
What it could be: Make it an open-world first-person shooter. Keep the dusty atmosphere, but scale the aliens even larger. They look like bugs -- mantises, spiders, beetles -- but I want to see them look like Shadow of the Colossus creatures, attacking John and Jane Middle-America as they flee to their homes. I remember a part where you can get on a farming combine and eviscerate aliens with it. Keep that, too.
What it is: Well, one of the weirdest games of all time, to be frank. But Shenmue is more than just a goofy trip of a game -- it is one of the first gutsy narratives, with really mind-bending concepts and characters. It wasn't a very violent game, but the emphasis on interacting with the world and exploring the setting was at the forefront of the experience. Also, it was an ambitious title, eras ahead of the competition in terms of visuals.
What it could be: Approach Shenmue a bit like Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Outside of the actual "levels" Human Revolution is a very exploration-based game, with a lot of focus on first-person contact with NPCs. The beat-em-up aspect could be appropriated to support a Condemned style of play. Put us in the shoes of Ryo, or a modern day equivalent, and allow us to dive back into the mystery that surrounds Shenmue. With technology these days, the a thoroughly imagined world could be make real again, and the strange, quirky culture that resided within the game could be re-established.
What it is: This is that game from your youth that scared the absolute shit out of you. Clock Tower is a survival-horror game that is totally unique. You don't try and kill anything, but a lunatic man-child tries to cut you with a giant pair of shears. His name is Scissorman, and he's unstoppable. The game is built around staying alive and discovering the secrets of the giant manor you're trapped in.
What it could be: Exactly what it was, only through the eyes of the protagonist -- rather than as a 2D point-and-click. Build the game and keep the emphasis on hiding, that gameplay mechanic alone is plenty to uphold the game's scariness. Imagining the Scissorman coming right at me as I play is horrifying. Just what these games have invoked in the past, only a bit more personal.
What it is: Outcast is a forgotten game. Releasing in 1999, it made only a moderate splash in the commercial realm, though it delighted a few critics with its incredible visuals and impressive scale. It was about an alien force in a parallel universe that attacked Earth, threatening to produce matter that would create a black hole near Earth. You play as an ex-Navy SEAL who must explore this parallel dimension and restore order to the world.
What it could be: I envision this game as a tactical shooter, a la Rainbox Six. As a single force against a world of evil aliens, it is imperative that the player remains quiet and executes his missions strategically, like a Solid Snake rather than a John Rambo. Flesh out the unique weapons and beautiful scenery, and make it an open world rife with discovery.
What it is: Tim Schafer's early hit was a gritty point-and-click adventure that took place in a dystopian future where where civilians have ditched motor vehicles for hovercrafts. It was a classic hero vs villain tale, with a rebel named Ben and an evil CEO named Adrian Ripburger. Ben led a crew of bikers called the Polecats, and his gang was framed for murder. The game details Ben's quest for exoneration and true justice.
What it could be: The Tim Schafer point-and-click era was brilliant, but Full Throttle could be a very intriguing reboot. The biker gang aspect, the results of violence, the desert dystopia -- those are compelling pieces for a grimy, tough tale. Keep the subtle humor, but make it an adult game, full of betrayal, high stakes, and revenge.
What it is: Wasteland released in 1988 and blew everyone away with its grand scale. It was a post-nuclear holocaust tale, and one that took on the blankness of tragedy and injected it into a near-future USA. It is very simple by today's standards, but when Wasteland released it was among the most sophisticated games of the era. It focused on survival and the rebuilding of a nation.
What it could be: This is the perfect cooperative tactical shooter. The original game centered around an elite unit of Rangers who survived the war, and their goal is to recruit survivors to rebuild. With a robust plot, deep characters, and all the potential conflict that can happen when people are in their "survival" mentality, we could see something compelling in a Wasteland remake.
What it is: The Command & Conquer franchise made the jump to first-person a few years ago. C&C: Renegade was a pretty poor attempt at redefining the franchise. EA did announce a shooter version of this storied series, called Tiberium, but then canned it. People see the value in putting together a first-person shooter, but the pieces haven't fallen into place just yet.
What it could be: We know that the Tiberium mythos is loaded with potential. Large scale ground conflicts, a struggle for a powerful and poisonous gas, clearly defined good guys and bad ones. We would battle a pseudo-cult, or take control of the evil Nod, all while discovering the implications of Tiberium. Now, we just need someone to do it.