In examining the best gaming franchises in recent years, we’ve found the best titles to be those that tweaked a significant portion of the core mechanics. On the surface, gameplay is largely the same, yet with different environments (see: Halo or almost every Nintendo game from Twilight Princess to Mario Galaxy). And with the exception of sports games (Madden and yes, SmackDown), there are very few franchises that prosper by remaking virtually the same thing.
We get it. It’s hard enough for a company - dev or publisher - to turn a profit with each game release. Given the choice, would you risk losing tens of millions to completely reinvent your money-maker, or play it safe with a slight upgrade you designate a sequel? Hell, it took Capcom five tries to reinvent Resident Evil 4 and Ubisoft has no clue what to do with Splinter Cell: Conviction.
We’ve got some tips for these companies. We’ve come up with some ideas to reinvent franchises before they go the Sonic route. Behold: the franchises that would benefit from some plastic surgery.
Haunted foggy town and alternate Hellish reality, great soundtrack, creepy/uneasy storyline and back story, creature design
Go first-person completely.
Let’s get this out of the way: the latest iteration in the Silent Hill franchise - Homecoming - is not that bad. Almost every niggle from Hill history was taken care of. Hand to hand combat improved, camera movement/tracking was much better and the weather effects were downright amazing. Sadly, we were reminded just how stale the action got over the past few years. Backtracking to find superfluous items? Check. Plethora of locked doors? Yup! Same lumbering setup and payoff of twist-induced storyline involving the protagonist’s personal hell? Of course.
What needs to be chucked first is that clumsy third-person perspective. Granted SH is never primarily about combat, but that Gears of War/RE4 over-the-shoulder view would suffice, or better yet: make SH first-person. Keep ammo scarce like BioShock and crib from Condemned 2’s melee combat. Just about everything in C2 can be used as a weapon - prosthetic limb, 2x4, lead pipe - which is about as random as any of the melee tools in Silent Hill.
In fact, crib the police work from the Condemned series and integrate the storyline for the next SH. What if you played as a detective with your own disgraced past? And the only way you’ll find redemption is by solving a missing person case in a mysteriously foggy town. Because so many people fall off the radar after visiting Hill, wouldn’t it make sense for someone to investigate?
Think of all the gameplay possibilities: exploring a dilapidated hospital for finger prints or collecting blood samples from the elementary school. Think of how cool it would be to see the fog give way to the Hellish “otherworld” in first-person or the twisted expression from a nurse demon as you run a bone saw across her face. Silent Hill 4: The Room experimented with first-person. How about running with it the next time?