5 franchises that need facelifts

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.

Above: Yawn

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?

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  • Blackviperr - January 22, 2010 12:25 p.m.

    I would have to tottally disagree with making silent hill 1st person. Me being a long time fan of the series, has enjoyed its loomy darkness and bad controls.. Its what makes the players somewhat scared.. Once you make it 1st person the old charm is lost and it would be a forgotten title.. The laggy controls and dark atmosphere is what makes silent hill SILENT HILL.. and i doubt i would like it if it went FP cuz i didnt enjoy condemned or bioshock much at all. Except the storylines of both
  • FanofSaiyan - December 7, 2009 2:58 a.m.

    Resident Evil... can't really say, looks scary, feels creepy, seems like a perfect balance if you ask me.
  • PyramidHead316 - November 8, 2009 9:21 p.m.

    First person would kill the Silent Hill series, and it's already dead in some people's eyes right now. No, just no. Let Condemned be what it is, and let a horror series like this find its own path. I would never touch another Silent Hill game if the series went first person, and I'm a big fan of SH ever since I played the first game back in 1999. The over-the-shoulder perspective is one of the most overrated things in games to me. I hate the over the shoulder perspective - hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. I hate to restate that choice of words so many times, but it bears repeating that this not one of my favorite things from RE4. I hate how Alex can't turn in every direction in Silent Hill: Homecoming, when Double Helix tried to ape this camera mode. Slap a camera over a guy's shoulders and call it a new control scheme. Yeah, that's it. >_> And it's not even that good. Metal Gear Solid 2 perfected first person aiming in one try, and it does nothing to detract from the experience. Unlike RE4's camera, which looks awkward and strange still to this day. One of the things that took the creepy factor out of SH: Homecoming was the way that you can see everything at once. There are no unique angles; none of the disorientation you would find even in real life. It's simply a generic adventure game. One of the things that has been confirmed to me by playing Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is the lack of available movement in first person shooters. One of the worst things in Silent Hill: Homecoming is how Alex can't even turn 180 degrees to face back. This is a letdown compared to the earlier games. Heather controlled perfectly in SH3 with the 2D controls - well, almost perfect. :) But it seems that after that game, developers took two steps back with regard to this. Alex can't even turn in a quick fashion, and maneuvers roughly in combat situations against monsters. And first person would compound this. Rather than making things more scary, it would remind me that I'm playing a game: over, and over, and over, and over, and over - exactly as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles does now. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is unique is that in that it's a good game to play for blasting monsters and arcade-style action...but it's not an optimal presentation for the Resident Evil story and its horror setting. And it's jarring when you're almost thinking of yourself as being the one battling the monsters, and then you come out of it and see Chris and Jill in the cut-scenes. As I learned from another user on the IGN boards, I think this depends on the perspective you have about horror games. Do you want to imagine yourself in the horror, or do you want to see someone else in a perilous situation? For me, the answer is simple. I don't WANT to imagine myself in the horror. I want to see someone that I care for, after getting to know them - someone I can root for, loathe, or question based on their decisions. The reason you grow tense in good horror films is because you grow to like the characters and get attached to them, and you fear for their safety later on. You want to see them get a happy ending, or get some kind of resolution. That's the way my like of horror games works - I like Heather and James, and Claire and Jill in Resident Evil, because they're not just faceless characters with limbs that appear occasionally on the screen. They're fully realized characters, and are always present on the screen. Not everything has to be first person! Even with Mario, which has nothing to do with horror, I've seen comments from people here saying they want their children to only play first person shooters like Call of Duty, and Jericho, etc; and they want them to shoot everyone who plays a Mario game. Of course, they are trolls who would get stomped by real gamers in real life. But I think it's disturbing that some people want everything to be a first person shooter, or in first person view. The new overhaul of the series is looking promising, but the developers are still not getting it. The way to keep a series going is not to overhaul it with every new entry, but to add lots of little things to it over time. The basic gameplay of SH still works. Why does Metal Gear Solid survive for so long with consistently high scores? Regardless of what you think of the story, it's because they add more and more new features to the game with each new entry, and that's what keeps the gameplay fresh, but the core gameplay remains the same. Of course, others series like Mario and Halo do the same thing. The goal of every horror series should always be to get the protagonist as close in movement to a real life person as possible, while coming up with new things to scare us and disturb us. What Climax should be doing is taking the formula of SH and taking it to its ultimate extreme, making it as enjoyable and disturbing as humanly possible. That's the way to improve things! Of course, this is only my opinion. >_>
  • PyramidHead316 - November 10, 2009 2:53 a.m.

    To be clear, it's not like I want the series to stand still, and never improve. But completely overhauling a system doesn't always yield a success. And first person leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I think it's different when a series starts out a certain way. If a series starts out in first person, then people are used to playing it that way. That's why Condemned was so successful, probably - because it was a brand new series and there were no expectations as to how it should play. It's an entirely clean slate - the developers can do what they want. But a series transitioning to first person view after years of being a third is going to have a hard time selling itself to its fans. Some people may go for it, but it's probably going to alienate a lot of other people who were huge followers of the series. And what is it with melee combat?! Am I the only one who doesn't enjoy it that much compared to the gun play in the games? I hated it in SH4. I eventually got used to it, and it's fun having Henry whack enemies with an axe, but I never really went for the steel pipe and other weapon bashing that some of the fans adore. It's true finding a gun laying around somewhere can be strange, but there are other ways to introduce a weapon. If I were trapped in a city teeming with strange monsters, the first thing I would do is go to a place like a gun store or somewhere that I suspected of having firearms. Some people say it makes the experience far scarier by "putting you in the game". But since I'm only seeing occasional limbs and the movement is limited severely, I'm always going to be slightly removed from the game. I'm in the real world, where the monsters can't get me, and I'm simply fighting against polygonal images on screen. Whereas if I see the character on screen, I grow to care about them, because it's story I'm invested in and I want to see the character through to the end. And SH tried first person already! It was a little interesting at first, but try to deny you weren't itching to go back to first person after a few minutes of playing through the apartment. Some people weren't, but I've seen many people who were. Why? Because you could see more of the settings, run, walk more freely, and do a number of other things Henry could only do while he was in third person! First person was a good gimmick, but it wasn't one I wanted to be stuck with for the whole game. That also ties into what I was saying about the camera. Seeing too much can spoil the mood of the atmosphere, but seeing too little can also be a bad thing. It can make the game feel confined and underwhelming, and not in a claustrophobic way. You need to find the perfect balance between the two, in having the camera follow the character, but not having anything look like a wide open place with nothing unique about it. Silent Hill 3 had this right balance, and so does Eternal Darkness. They also had some pretty good controls, give or take Heather's limited moveset. Eternal Darkness still has one of the most impressive control schemes I have ever seen. Here's an example of what I'm saying about first person view. In RE: The Umbrella Chronicles, Wesker confronts a new type of Tyrant early in the game. Here you have a character who is a match for him. He may not have his super strength yet, but Wesker is a skilled veteran, he has intelligence, and he has years of training under Umbrella's training regimen. Yet when you enter first person view, you get brutalized by the Tyrant because you can't run or avoid attacks. You can't even dodge a simple punch; you can only dodge when the game allows you to, and it's obvious Wesker has none of the usual agility while in this state. It makes Wesker look stupid, and it frustrates the player to the point of not wanting to play the game. First person may be more "realistic and scary" for some, but for those of us who like to move our characters in all directions, it can be a nightmare to control. So no, keep first person view out of Silent Hill, unless it's for momentary bursts for aiming or solving puzzles. I don't know if I'm making sense or not, because this is a hard thing to explain. I just think there is a difference in the type of experience first person provides, and there are some of us for whom first person will never provide a fully maximized experience. No matter how many people say it's awesome, no matter how many people are convinced it's the future and that everything else should go (especially if they're family friend games >_>), some of us will never click with it. And from what I've, most SH fans are of this variety. It's a different market for Condemned, it's a different market for Doom 3 and other games. Some of us can cross over and enjoy these games, but others can't, and I don't think it's fair to take the series in a direction that might end up alienating most of its fanbase, all to make a buck. After all, what good is breathing new life into the series if it's no longer SH? o_O
  • kyle2 - October 18, 2009 5:10 p.m.

    i agree there needs to be something done about the gta franchise i want a new city and some better character customization
  • wiitard07 - September 22, 2009 6:42 p.m.

    Silent Hill Shattered Memories looks pretty freakin amazing to me
  • EvilInkarnate - January 11, 2009 9:57 a.m.

    It's all good mcdukefan, I got ya. I'm still wondering about my Wii Pikmin though...
  • NelosAngelos - December 23, 2008 1:27 a.m.

    What smells like bacon? [Shoot to Kill] Every time
  • somebodyisnt10 - December 18, 2008 10:29 p.m.

    i agree with the grand theft auto they should bring the getting assest part from san andreas where you can make money and hire people you meet to work in buissness you own but also give you stuff to spen the money on like paying rent of buying cars and tricking them out and buying buildings and furniture and stuff i think that that would be a awesome game for this organization to come out with.
  • HotSht95 - December 18, 2008 9:36 p.m.

    live sucks hahahah
  • TheWebSwinger - December 18, 2008 8:42 p.m.

    The GTA one is both hilarious and a good idea. "I love The Shield", hahaha. However, I think such strong RPG choices would loosen the stranglehold GTA has on the more casual market.
  • TastyCakesMcgee - December 18, 2008 6:23 p.m.

    I liked the last pic for GAT. "Don't hurt me. I love the shield." or "What smells like bacon." [shoot to kill] Classic!
  • El_Hombre11 - December 18, 2008 6:02 p.m.

    I was one of the few people i know who played Enter the Matrix, and i loved it. If you add Mirror's Edge gameplay to that, it would be so much better, i've had that idea ever since ME hit the radar. And oh man if they made a RPG GTA, i wouldnt be able to put that controller down haha another great article GR
  • Bronxx - December 18, 2008 11:18 a.m.

    What smell like bacon?
  • Bronzus - December 18, 2008 11:08 a.m.

    Mcdukefan823=ji msondanet, you WIN a face palm! And make that matrix game, NOW. GamesRadar Petiton!
  • DeadGirls - December 18, 2008 10:13 a.m.

    People get pop-ups on this site? I use firefox and AdBlockPlus and I have never had one. The only annoyance I have is videos playing automatically.
  • sage62 - December 18, 2008 7:30 a.m.

    They are giving something to compare to, they could just use words, but then people will take thigns differently and nobody can no for sure what they mean, but by making a comparison like " game x should do something like gameplay mechanic x from game y"
  • mcdukefan823 - December 18, 2008 4:40 a.m.

    uuummm good ideas just too bad they are already taken, gamesradar is a site that gives developers crap for being unoriginal but this is really hypocritical. All the ideas you have are stolen from other games save for tony hawk which you said the remedy was to stop releasing them. Silent Hill=condemned, Matrix=mirrors edge, GTA=Mass Effect and castlevania=bioshock in a castle w/ swords. what gives?
  • Sly_Fox - December 18, 2008 4:04 a.m.

    lol @ the gta4 pictures
  • crazytar - December 18, 2008 12:19 a.m.

    i also got a bored with GTA IV faster than previous ones but it was because it stripped out some of the activities you could do, like run errands and taxi submissions (i mean for the entirety of the game, you get the option to drive people around for a little extra cash in the beginning but later on you cant because of what happened with Roman's taxi service *ahem*). maybe the new dlc will fix this. lol my recaptha fits in perfectly with this article. its "ddefective games"