5 of the most amazing yet totally unoriginal games

Let's face it, one glance at the charts will show you that the public isn't too fussed about originality. The public wants first-person shooters, fitness games and the next FIFA or Madden. It doesn't want LittleBigPlanet (despite Stephen Fry), couldn't give a damn about Okami despite all our best efforts, and thinks Rez HD is a sleep disorder you get from those newfangled tellies.

But while some games are unoriginal to the point of lawsuits (Simpson's Road Rage, how do you plead?), there is a lot to be said for a brilliantly-made game that adds little genuinely new to the genre. In fact, some of the best games of the past 12 months have been made up of little more than old ideas cleverly repackaged to create something wonderful.

So here we are, revealing how five massive, current-gen games are completely, blatantly, wholly unoriginal – and why they're all the better for it.


The health system is from...

Sure, it may be disguised with a clever colour loss as you take damage, but the whole 'take fire, get to cover and wait for it to replenish' technique is straight out of Bungie's original classic shooter – and it's become a staple for the shooting genre.

Above: Take damage, get to cover, wait in safety. It's Halo with jeans on


The cover system is from...
Gears of War

Snapping to cover and darting between two cover points is straight out of Gears of War. You could argue that every 3D shooter has a cover system when you just stand behind something, but this is programmed to work in a specific way. Specifically like Gears, which is a very good thing.


The shooting is from...
Resident Evil 4

The third-person, over-the-shoulder camera angle is very familiar these days, but Resi 4 was the first to do it like this. Uncharted may have shoulder-switching, which Resi didn't have, but other than that it's identical. Why? Because it works.

Above: This was a major departure for the Resident Evil series. Thankfully


The climbing is from...
Tomb Raider

Lara Croft was shimmying and vaulting as early as 1996 and her more recent rock-climbing techniques in Tomb Raider: Legend bear the most resemblance to Nathan Drake's wall-scampering. But Lara's PSone/Saturn game was itself a 3D progression of the original 8-bit Prince of Persia – the first ever motion-captured game, so it's hard to draw a definite line under this one. It's certainly nothing new, though.

Above: Both Drake and Lara now have independant limbs when climbing


So why is Uncharted 2 such a big deal?

Because it cherry-picks the best examples of every third-person actioner and delivers them all in a single package, wrapped up in the best graphics of this generation so far, not to mention a story and character list worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

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  • moo - July 8, 2011 7:41 p.m.

    batman`s combat was original
  • austinite04 - February 15, 2010 9:53 p.m.

    @cart00n: Your right and whats even more amazing is we are just a bunch of borrowed parts as Will Wright points out in the Nat Geo DVD that comes with Spore. We all owe our exsistance to sea creatures. Not just Apes. If we were made in 7 days then explain why ALL our DNA is in every living creature/plant you name it.. I am a Christian but refuse to believe we were literally made in 7 days. This idea that we just came out of thin air is just BS. Same logic goes with games. Not one game can say it is an original idea. Except PONG, that was the very first game ever. Every game that came after just builds on the whole idea of what a game should be. I love Uncharted 2. I cannot stop playing it. It does have some awesome moments in the Single Player game. I can only imagine what they will do for Uncharted 3.. UC2 makes every aspect work brilliantly. That is why it raked in all those awards.
  • Debased - February 14, 2010 9:45 a.m.

    Lets be honest Hollywood has been doing this for years, You only need take the horror genre for an example 90% are just followed from a generic blueprint that is follow religiously by at least two Hollywood directors that i can thing off. I think the games industry does have to be aware of running into situations off the above example, there is nothing wrong with borrowing from the concept of a game, sure for example Uncharted has borrowed its concept from Tomb Raider, i don't really have a problem with that, so long as the storyline as originality, Plus all these similar concept games make the game's that are groundbreaking all the more better, because of the originality of it.....well sometimes
  • FinderKeeper - February 14, 2010 3:46 a.m.

    @ Fiirestorm21: MUCH more freedom... often as you can find vertical cover/position over the enemy. The vertical takedowns *NEVER* get old. WHOOSH... "ups-a-daisy!!!"
  • Fiirestorm21 - February 13, 2010 10:58 a.m.

    That is to say we never got to use it frequently at all, only in a few pre-determined instances per game. Versus Batman where you have much more freedom to execute one it seems.
  • Fiirestorm21 - February 13, 2010 10:57 a.m.

    Good article with a good point. It annoys me when gamers will isolate one mainstream game to point out how unoriginal it is while conveniently ignoring another favorite that is just as unoriginal. (Two recent examples that got a lot of steam in particular: Uncharted 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. Many of the same gamers and reviewers who would criticize those two games would go on and praise the hell out of games like Modern Warfare 2.) Although, again I have to point out, if Uncharted 2 was ripping off anybody with the over-the-shoulder third-person aiming, it was Splinter Cell, as again it did it 2-3 years before Resident Evil 4 even came out. (That's not to mention any games that came before Splinter Cell that did it that I'm missing.) I haven't played through Batman Arkham Asylum yet, but if the Scarecrow fight closely mirrors the classic Psycho Mantis fight as you say it does, then that's just another reason for me to get it ASAP. Although, a comment on the Splinter Cell reference you through in there, unfortunately we never got to use the vertical drop takedown in SC like we apparently get to do in Batman.
  • xlyesterdaylx - February 13, 2010 5:31 a.m.

    I thought the ivnentor of the cover system was kill switch...
  • Ennohex - February 12, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    So completely forgot about Bayonetta's similarity to GodHand. The QTE and rapid button presses originated from there.
  • articmonkeys - February 12, 2010 4:09 a.m.

    as far as I remember Gears of War cover system is from Kill practically GoW is not original too :)
  • sleepy92ismypsn - February 12, 2010 3:30 a.m.

    how does uncharted 2 have the best graphics it looks amazing but its only 720p
  • PlanetStrike - February 11, 2010 10:50 p.m.

    I'd argue that it action replay and in-car views started on or before 1990. Stunts! - a game by Broderbund released in 1990 was 3d, on PC and featured in-car views and replays.
  • adrock2099 - February 11, 2010 7:52 p.m.

    I'd say that the button-mashing finishing moves of Bayonetta are more from the criminally underrated God Hand than anything else.
  • Bloodstorm - February 11, 2010 6:05 p.m.

    @GamesRadarJustinTowell I admit, you have me there. I do agree in Halo 3's underwhelming multiplayer. Form me it was because of the maps. If Halo 2's maps were combined with Halo 3's mechanics, you would have had a great multiplayer.
  • havok2100 - February 11, 2010 6:02 p.m.

    Why is it that people always forget that Splinter Cell started the over the shoulder aiming trend before RE4 and kill.switch had the cover system long before Gears of War. I'll admit that the kill.switch system was bit limited by comparison, but it was released in 2003. The cover system in Rogue Trooper actually bore closer resemblence to the one implemented in Gears, and was released a year before in 2006.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - February 11, 2010 5:15 p.m.

    Also, if you're going to keep remoivng xboxrulz's comments, why not just ban him? :\ Sorry for the double post
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - February 11, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    I played Geomatry Wars for 4 hours in the dark once... Then suffered for it in the mother of all hallucinogenic experiences and a beast of a headache. Worth it though :) And I love Ratchet and Clank, it's one of my favourite game series of all time. Especially R&C3. I addicted that. A LOT
  • GR_JustinTowell - February 11, 2010 5:01 p.m.

    @Bloodstorm - ah, I see what you mean. I was basing it on what I really played halo for - the multiplayer. Loved Halo 1's multiplayer, loved Halo 2 even more for the online... then completely underwhelmed by 3. But as you say, each to his own! @FreekinIdiot - You're right, but Tenchu didn't have fancy tech specs to augment the stealthiness. Just goes to show though, the roots all go right back... @RedOutlive10 - Agreed. Land of Illusion was an exceptional game :)
  • FreekinIdiot - February 11, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    The stealth is from...Tenchu Stealth Assassins surely Mr Towell? Hiding out in shadows, dropping down on enemies? Square faced ninjas? God bless you ps1
  • Bloodstorm - February 11, 2010 4:21 p.m.

    @GamesRadarJustinTowell Out of the 4, Halo 2 is the worst! But to each his own. I judge them on campaign, and Halo 1 comes out on top, followed by ODST, Halo 3, then last Halo 2. I found Halo 2 to be completely boring in the middle section of the game, the Arbiter levels nonetheless. Drug on for way too long.
  • Rayce185 - February 11, 2010 4:14 p.m.

    I agree that recycling old ideas is what games are all about, but honestly: Is there anything else that HASN'T been done? If you see it this way, every game feature is just a puzzle piece that needs to be fitted with others and maybe have a nice story for packaging. There isn't much more that you can actually get out of it, but this applies to games just as much as to movies and music.