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The Future of 5 Video Game Franchises - Page 2

The following games are confirmed sequels to great, groundbreaking titles. Following with the theory that, in video games, sequels should improve upon originals without sacrificing what made those games great, I'd like to identify what I believe to be the core issues that should be solved and the wonderful things that should remain completely untouched. In many cases, information about these sequels has already confirmed or dashed my hopes, but let that not dissuade us from taking an objective view. Now, as with any speculative discussion about an upcoming work that is not my own (like in my rants about the future of Zelda and Metroid), I disclose that these are just the opinions of one fanboy who does not take himself seriously enough to believe that he is right on all points or that the game developers have any responsibility to listen to his ramblings.


Screenshot
DEAD SPACE 2
Release Date: 3/31/2011
Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Sites: IGN | Gametrailers

At around the same time that survival horror master-franchises like Resident Evil were devolving into action-focused, multiplayer shooters that had little to do with horror, the folks over at EA decided to design the scariest game they could. Dead Space is one of the best games of this generation, and its complex mythology and unresolved storylines make a sequel absolutely mandatory.

Of all the games on this list, this is the one I think should be tinkered with the least. The sequel needs to maintain a focus on frights, solitude, death, survival horror, a story that is as deep as you want it to be, and never knowing what's around the next corner. The weapons should be improvised the way they were in the original, there should be a sense of insanity just beneath the surface, and the gameplay should remain largely untouched.

However, there are some things that could be improved. Obviously we'd need more of things, like more weapons, more environments, and more baddies (the latter is of extreme importance), but we'd also need to refine some of the game's clunkier aspects. The zero-gravity segments of the original were a neat concept, but the inability to aim and fire while leaping from wall to wall was annoying. As a side note, I'd love to see a secret area that is only accessable through a long gauntlet of the vaccuum of space.

The melee functions of the original also felt a bit sluggish and useless, even though they looked realistic. They were also extremely limited; you could either flail your arm out or stomp the ground. The stomp is awesome, but perhaps there could be a more responsive and intelligent melee system that reacts to the situation. Melee shouldn't be powerful--it should still be a last-resort option--but it should at least be useable when ammo is running low.

On the whole, though, these are minor improvements. The sequel shouldn't try to do anything too drastically different from the original, because if it's not broke, why fix it?

Screenshot from Elder Scrolls IV
THE ELDER SCROLLS V
Release Date: unknown
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: unknown

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is, quite possibly, the greatest single-player RPG ever made. Still, this does not mean that the next installment shouldn't tweak the formula a bit.

One place where Oblivion fails is in monotonous character interactions. For the next installment, there should be more than half a dozen voice actors, the people need to have more personality, and characters should still be able to move around while speaking. This sounds like a minor complaint, but it really isn't; anyone who played more than a few hours of Oblivion knows what I'm talking about.

The next Elder Scrolls should maintain that feeling of total freedom, from the freedom to map your own controller and set your own difficulty on the fly to the freedom to roam anywhere on the map you please. However, the levelling system needs a big overhaul. In Oblivion, there are some skills that are very easy to level up, while others seem to take eons, regardless of your stats. There needs to be more balancing and more concrete rules about what counts towards a skill and what doesn't. Additionally, your base level shouldn't be dictated by a handful of skills you choose at the outset, nor should it depend on finding a bed.

Also, I'm torn on how I feel about the enemies-level-as-you-do mechanic that has become so popular in RPGs like Oblivion. I feel like there should be certain parts of the game that are not adjusted based on your level, even if the overall gameworld is. Perhaps finding an interesting blend is something the developers could work on.

The Elder Scrolls V promises to be another epic adventure, but it shouldn't be a carbon copy of the previous game.

Screenshot from Mirror's Edge
MIRROR'S EDGE 2
Release Date: unknown
Developer: DICE Sweden
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Sites: IGN

Only one word comes to mind when I think about Mirror's Edge: potential. The concept of the game is brilliant. A first-person game that is based on freerunning rather than shooting is an interesting twist, and can be a lot of fun when you get the hang of it.

However, the original game is plagued with problems. For one thing, it is intensely linear, though it feels like it shouldn't be. It is also painfully short with a yawn-worthy plot. These problems need to be addressed front and center, and I believe that fixing them involves a radical change to the overall game design. Mirror's Edge 2 should be an open-world sandbox game.

Imagine a game with the same controls and ideas of the original Mirror's Edge, but set in a giant playground of a city where you have to stay on the move at all times. You could have side missions (including actual runner jobs) and have a main plot that evolves organically. Of course, in order to pull this off, the environments have to be chock-full of obstacles and tools that don't necessarily point in a single direction and allow you to take more than just one or two routes to get from one point to another. It's a big undertaking, but not an impossible one, and I believe it would fulfill the grand potential of the original game.

Also, lose the E-surance-style cutscenes.

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-e. magill 5/5/2010








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