Games are evolving at an alarming rate. Over the past couple of decades, things like story-telling, graphics, and overall gameplay have improved to the point that no longer are we restrained by technology, and our imaginations can run wild with creative ideas.
What seems to be happening in the current climate within the games industry is that they rely too heavily on yearly franchises and, more importantly, sequels upon sequels. Of course over the years we've had both great additions to an existing franchise that help out a story and it's characters, while also adding welcome additions to an already solid foundation. On the other hand, we've also got sequels that were not only completely pointless, but also diminished any impact the original games had.
Now recently, especially now that E3 is here, the games industry have a chance to show off brand new IPs. Games that surprise and innovate with room to grow, however, what we don't want to see are the aforementioned games in existing franchises that just recycle old mechanics that push you out of the overall game experience. We would argue that some of the franchises we're going to mention here are even TOO far gone at this point; meaning they're totally screwed. Some of these games hopefully on the other end of the spectrum just need a little fine tuning before they become something great. Here are the 8 Video Game franchises that are screwed, and 7 that will flourish.
15 Screwed: Batman Arkham Franchise
Throughout history Batman has been some what of a mixed bag when it comes to its video game tie-ins. Ranging from side-scrolling beat-em-ups to the colourful Lego games of recent times, Batman has been through it all, and really they've only just been hugely successful over the past decade or so as game developer Rocksteady released Batman: Arkham Asylum.
While we all agree that it's definitely a return to form for the caped crusader with its great level design and sharp combat, we also agree that as subsequent games in the franchise have been released they've actually digressed. Batman: Arkham City brought the franchise in to the open world genre and brought very little to the actually gameplay, while losing the charm of the original. Then there was all of the controversy surround Arkham Knight and its glitches. The big thing added to the games down the line was Batman's Batmobile which only added to cumbersome mission design with its tedious mechanics.
14 Flourish: Sniper Elite
What's the worst part of any game involving guns? Sniping. Of course, in actuality, it's a matter of opinion, but what we can all agree on is that sniping in games could, and should, be better. It never truly 'feels' right, a problem that developer Rebellion, along with publisher 505 games rectifies incredibly well in their Sniper Elite franchise.
Set in multiple countries across World War 2, the Sniper Elite games pit you as a lone wolf going behind enemy lines to take out the Nazi hierarchy. What makes Sniper Elite a franchise set to flourish is simple; with each new entry the developers improve almost every aspect within the game, whether that be the graphics, the gameplay, or the general feel on the sniping. Of course, you can't forget the satisfying x-ray kill mechanic where, with the right precision and timing, you see your shots fire in slow-motion as they enter a victims body through an x-ray kill cam. Plus nad shots – who doesn't love nad shots.
13 Screwed: Dead Rising
Back when the Xbox 360 launched, people were waiting and hoping for any form of reason to buy one. Microsoft persuaded the masses with a heap of exclusive games only found on their machine with one being Dead Rising. It enjoyed showing of the power of the 360 by packing as many zombies on screen as it could throw at you all at once. It also was most well known for its time limit that would run down constantly, keeping the player on their toes.
Fast forward to the latest entries in the series and we have a standard case of lost identity. Time limit? Gone. Incredibly entertaining boss fights? Gone. In contrast to what Dead Rising used to offer, in the past couple of games it just seems a whole lot more streamlined and bland when it comes to actual game mechanics. Unfortunately we don't see these changing any time soon or at all depending on when we'll see Frank West again.
He's covered wars, you know.
12 Flourish: Titanfall
The Titanfall series of games should never of happened, really. Created by Respawn Entertainment, the guys behind the mega popular Call of Duty franchise, Titanfall was the by product of a fall out between the creators of Call of Duty and Activision at the height of its popularity. Luckily for us as gamers as it all worked out in the end as Vince and Jason (The Call of Duty guys) founded their own studio.
What makes Titanfall such a great game series is quite simple; the polish. From the graphic fidelity, to the movement and shooting every inch of the games are up to scratch in modern first person shooting terms. So much so that as soon as the first game came out, Call of Duty chose to follow in its footsteps by introducing its own futuristic style. Not only that, but with the introduction of a single-player campaign, it transformed in to an all-in-one package.
11 Screwed: Resident Evil
Back in the 90s, good horror games were hard to come by, especially on the newly released PlayStation 1. That was until Capcom's Resident Evil stepped up in 1996 to deliver an exhilarating and genuine scary full 3D experience. It became a smash-hit and all through out the PlayStation 1 era Resident Evil was classed as the ''go to'' horror franchise. Unfortunately this didn't last, however; although the PS2 did give us the quite revolutionary Resident Evil 4, it also gave us crappy spin offs such as Dead Aim and Outbreak.
The franchise in itself had become over played at this point, especially considering Resident Evil 4 had pretty much changed the third person genre, but even that game was a huge departure from the games before it. More recently, Capcom has taken it upon themselves to 'modernize' the franchise, taking cues from games that themselves were inspired by RE4. Nothing good has come of it, leading to a situation where Resident Evil is more of a Michael Bay action trainwreck than horror game.
10 Flourish: Zero Escape
Adventure games are the big thing at the moment with the likes of Telltale, Quantum Dream, and all matter of indie developers releasing a ton of them. For the most part, they're doing a great job at making them too, however what they're not really doing in adding a visual novel style to the mix, something that developer chime and publisher Rising Star Games are doing impressively well.
If you're unfamiliar with the Zero Escape franchise, firstly it's a series of adventure game originating in Japan. Story wise, it goes something like Saw; you have nine individuals that get kidnapped, held captive, and then put through a series of life or death puzzles in order to survive and eventually escape. Already an interesting concept for a game to have, but it doesn't end there – mechanically, the puzzles all feel extremely different and refreshing, which is good considering a lot of these type of games fall flat on their face when it comes to actually playing them.
9 Screwed: Assassin's Creed
Here we have yet another example of a franchise that perhaps peaked too soon and essentially ascended in to blandness. Assassin's Creed did in fact have a strong start to the series. So it should have; you play as Desmond Miles, an everyday guy who gets forced to enter his ancestors memories. Oh, by the way, his ancestors are assassins. Pretty exciting, no?
Well, 17 games and many time periods later, we've had enough. Not only did Ubisoft screw over the Assassin's Creed fans with recycled gameplay and little change from entry to entry, but the actual plot of the games fizzled out after they completely butchered Desmond's storyline. But that's not all they seem to be doing; with the latest in the series they seem to be borrowing a lot from their other core franchises as well, to the point that apart from setting, they all play the same. Examples include giving you a drone to scout the area or being able to tag enemies, to name a few. It's perhaps time to put this franchise to bed.
8 Flourish: Shadow Warrior
How many wang jokes can you fit in to a game? If Shadow Warrior is anything to go by, then the answer is a whole lot. The remake is based on a 1997 PC demonic first person shooter of the same name, even making the first game playable in the remake. You'd think with a main character named Lo Wang that Shadow Warrior would have a ton of lame private jokes that would dampen the experience of actually playing the game… and that's half right. Of course, the game has those jokes and a lot of them are quite bad, but Shadow Warrior transcends bad story; the games don't take themselves very seriously when it comes to the writing. However, it's a different story when to comes to the gameplay and overall experience. Want to shoot demons in the face for hours on end with smooth and loose shooting controls? You can. Want to slice up demons with a samurai sword with three other friends in co-op? You can. Hell, as of Shadow Warrior 2, you can even grab sweet loot weapon drops while you do it.
7 Screwed: Mass Effect
Mass Effect started out with such promise, as the first game let you dream beyond the stars while also letting you take charge of Commander Shepard as you explore the Milky Way, trying the damnedest to stop a galactic war. Okay, it was a little janky and heavy handed with the game mechanics, but overall it was a sold experience of RPG and action. Fast-forward to Mass Effect 2 and creators BioWare really nailed it with its attention to story and streamlined gameplay.
Role on to the finale of the trilogy and, while it was a solid entry in to the series, the ending and overall tone of some of the story seriously needed work (forcing BioWare to even patch the ending of the game so that it felt like more of a complete experience). Mass Effect Andromeda took this to a whole new level by completely destroying most of what made the games worth playing in the first place. Broken quests, boring writing, and ridiculous animations to just name a few. It's got so bad that EA (the publisher of the game) have come out and said they're putting Mass Effect on hiatus for now. It's a little too late for that EA.
6 Flourish: Persona
Nobody remembers the first two Persona games. At least not in the grand scheme of things, anyway. They started out as 2D tactical turn based JRPGs in which the player takes control of a group of high school students fighting through dungeons at night, while during the day they go about their regular school life. In the later games, you again take control of high school students whom again fight through dungeons in their spare time…
Ok, so the core premise hasn't changed too much over the year, but what has changed is the scope and style of each game within the Persona series.
Whether it be set in the small county side of Okinawa, against the back drop of a serial murder case, or set in the busy city of Tokyo, each entry appeals to different people. This can be seen with the recent release of Persona 5 selling 1.5 million copies. JRPGs are back in a big way and Persona is at the forefront of mainstream acceptance.
5 Screwed: Telltale Games/The Walking Dead
We rather enjoyed Telltale's The Walking Dead when it was released back in 2012. In fact everyone did – so much so that the game won big that year, by winning tons of awards. It was a great game, with interesting characters and mechanics. Fast forward to the present day and Telltale Games have released no fewer than 10 games (four of which are The Walking Dead related) with the exact same structure and criminally identical gameplay.
Of course, some of these games are better than others and, in their own right, they're not bad. However, we feel this has gone on for long enough to the point where they're starting to feel overplayed and stale. Not only that, but a simple search online can tell you that even though the game's make you think you're changing the story, in actuality the decisions you make matter very little.
4 Flourish: Hitman
Hitman has been around for quite a while - since the turn of the century in fact - so you may think that considering we're in 2017, nine games, and two movies later, the series itself has already flourished. In a way you'd be right, considering with each new release, the mechanics get better, the controls get easier to grasp, and the stories within the game get more involving, but we feel it wasn't until very recently that Hitman reached a whole new level.
Built as a kind of soft reboot, the 2016 Hitman tried things a bit differently. Firstly IO Interactive decided to release the game episodically, meaning you'd only get a portion of the game upfront and the rest of the maps later on. They also gave you huge sprawling maps, so you could tackle the 'hit' in any way you wanted, perfect for easy streaming. Well done IO, here's hoping to many more years of Hitman content.
3 Screwed: Tony Hawk Pro Skater
In the mid-to-late-nineties, skating was cool thanks to one man: Tony Hawk. Boasted as the greatest skateboarder of his generation, Tony Hawk was a well known name with a certain crowd. This was something that publisher Activision knew well before the majority of people, thus making a deal to collaborate on a video game an incredibly profitable idea. This is how Tony Hawk Pro Skater came to be. When the first couple of games were released, they were simple, fun, and engaging to play.
Like with the majority of this list, fast forward to the present day and not only has the franchise got stale, it's actually gotten bad. One example of this is the release of Shred and Ride, two games that Tony and Activision thought would put them back on top with the help of a plastic skateboard peripheral. It didn't. It was unwieldy to use, expensive and, more importantly, broken! After two games, the skateboard got ditched, but it didn't help save the games.
2 Flourish: The Witcher
This is another case of a franchise that was already pretty solid to begin with, if not a little hard to get into for newcomers. The Witcher is (so far) a trilogy of games developed by CD Projekt Red based on a series of books written by polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski that was already selling pretty well to its targeted audience. With The Witcher being one of the very few mature rated games, you may think it would've been hard to find mainstream success.
You'd be wrong.
With its most recent release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the series grew to new heights, selling over six million units soon after release. Taking inspiration from the likes of Skyrim and The Legend Of Zelda, CD Projekt Red managed to fully release their creative vision. A grand sprawling story, interesting combat, and a wealth of content are just a few of the qualities that the series on the whole has demonstrated from the beginning.
1 Screwed: Sonic The Hedgehog
Back in the early nineties, there were two main competitors when it came to the console market; Nintendo and Sega. Nintendo, being the more well known company at the time, had an Italian plumber as a mascot (whom you may of heard of…!) called Mario to drive their console marketing. Sega felt they had to fight back with their own mascot – hence we got Sonic.
Now, it all started off great; the games were enjoyable 2D side-scrollers, the cartoons were enjoyable for kids, and toys were easily manufactured. Sadly, as time went on, Sega seemed determined to wreck everybody’s childhood by making bad decisions. By now, it's perfectly clear that Sonic doesn't really work in a 3D environment. You lose that sense of urgency and speed that made the original games such fun. Just stop making them please!