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The Top 7… Greatest gaming rebirths

2. Fallout 3

What it was: An isometric, PC-only RPG series set in a post-nuclear-war wasteland, Fallout quickly earned a level of infamy and renown for its detailed gore, wry sense of humor and moral choices that allowed players to commit acts as reprehensible as selling slaves and murdering children. Combat was turn-based and (in the second game, at least) focused on squad tactics, although talking your way through potentially tense situations also played a huge role, and the game wore its mature themes like a badge of honor. It also didn’t hurt that the world was surprisingly rich and compelling for a blasted wasteland, filled with memorable characters and interesting attempts at post-apocalyptic civilization.

While Fallout was a hit with PC gamers, it wasn’t enough to lift the fortunes of its publisher, Interplay. In 2003, two years after the release of Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, developer Black Isle was shut down, with Interplay itself to follow soon after. For a while there, Fallout’s prospects looked bleaker than those of its wasteland dwellers.

Above: And the console Brotherhood of Steel, released just before Interplay's 2004 closure, didn't help matters any

What it became: A few years after Interplay’s demise, we learned that the Fallout license was alive and well with Bethesda, creators of The Elder Scrolls. As was the case with Metroid Prime, however, the excitement of a new Fallout game was outweighed by the horror its fans expressed when they found out their beloved RPG would be reborn as an FPS (although FPRPG would be a better label).

Most of them quieted down when they actually saw it, however. While the perspective had shifted and the gameplay was different, Fallout’s gruesome sensibilities and retro-futurist world remained intact, as did its system of Perks and uncomfortable moral decisions. And rather than giving over to twitchy FPS sensibilities, Fallout 3 opted for a hybrid of action and turn-based combat in the form of its Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (VATS). This enabled more strategy-minded players to simply freeze time and leisurely pick their targets, something that –when combined with the Bloody Mess perk – led to some of the most satisfying enemy deaths in any game, ever.

It also led to an extremely buggy but otherwise excellent sequel, New Vegas (made by Obsidian, the company that emerged from the ashes of original Fallout developer Black Isle), as well as a ton of DLC expansions. It may not be the Fallout that some old-school fans still cling to, but it definitely looks like it’s here to stay.

1. Metal Gear Solid

What it was: The story of the original Metal Gear is a little complicated; for starters, the original was actually two games. The first one, made by series creator Hideo Kojima, was a complex, quasi-open-world spy adventure for the EU/Japan-only MSX2 computer. The second one was a stripped-down NES port that, despite being made without Kojima’s involvement, nevertheless drew a strong following in the US. Inferior version or no, a hugely varied stealth-action game like Metal Gear – in which a lone, underpowered commando had to survive through stealth and clever use of gadgets – was unlike anything else on consoles in 1988, and it was considered brilliant.

Above: Kojima's "real" Metal Gear on MSX

Above: The one we all remember in spite of it

Metal Gear’s success didn’t escape publisher Konami, which produced a sequel, Snake’s Revenge, two years later. Sadly, western gamers once again got the short end of the stick here; while the non-canon Snake’s Revenge came and went with all the sloppy impact of a wet fart, the real sequel, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, was released exclusively in Japan, again for the MSX2. And while MG2 is widely considered fantastic, the rest of the world had a long wait before it’d see Solid Snake in another game. Eight years, in fact.

What it became: Surprisingly, Metal Gear Solid didn’t change as much about the original games as you might think. Oh sure, it sported brilliant-for-its-time 3D graphics, and it was a much more cinematic, character-driven game than any of its 8-bit predecessors. Beyond that, however, MGS was still a top-down game about a lone commando sent into enemy territory with nothing but his wits and a smuggled pack of cigarettes. The gameplay was similar, too, and in fact MGS borrowed a lot of elements from Metal Gear 2, including its initial base infiltration via air duct and its boss fight against a Hind chopper.

While MGS wasn’t the total overhaul so many of the other entries were, it was nonetheless a huge rebirth, rocketing a series that had been dormant for nearly a decade back into the limelight. MGS became so beloved, in fact, that it made the originals obsolete, redefined the direction of the series, spawned numerous critically acclaimed sequels (along with a few less-critically acclaimed spinoffs) and made Kojima an indelible household name among gamers. Not a bad comeback for a franchise that looked dead in the water 20 years ago.

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Top 7

60 comments

  • shayanomer - January 31, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    Why is Doom 3 not on this list?
  • RyoonZ - January 6, 2012 8:23 p.m.

    Nothing is revived until Suikoden VI , Breath of Fire VI , Wild ARMS VI !
  • jmcgrotty - January 6, 2012 5:06 a.m.

    "The original Donkey Kong stands as one of the greatest arcade games of the early ‘80s (its sequels, less so)" Considering that Donkey Kong, Jr. was the best of the series, that statement makes absolutely no sense. And I can't argue with the significance of your #1, except I tend to look at it differently. Metal Gear Solid: Great stuff, without a doubt. Metal Gear original? Borderline perfect in it's own right. Yes, the MSX changes were at times a bit too significant, it definitely didn't make the game bad or unplayable. Ultimately, though, if you don't want to think of "Metal Gear" MSX/NES and "Metal Gear Solid" as different franchises, the original games were better, and it isn't even close.
  • FriendlyFire - January 5, 2012 6:10 p.m.

    I'm surprised the most recent rebirth isn't on this list: Deus Ex. It just so happens that the rebirth has made it to the top of many "best of 2011" lists. Funnily enough, like with many other games on this list, it is considered better by those who've never played the original at the time, whereas people who did tend to prefer the first game. Sure, it may not be the iconic game that, say, Donkey Kong is, but it's still easily one of the most important games of all time.
  • jackthemenace - January 5, 2012 12:03 p.m.

    Well, MGS is a fairly good choice for number 1, come to think of it: Not only did Metal Gear go on to have Metal Gear Solid, but there was Also Metal Gear: Acid on the PSP, and now Metal Gear Rising. Which I cannot WAIT for. It'd better get released this year.
  • raxafrax - January 4, 2012 9:59 p.m.

    Street Fighter 4?
  • WTeen8 - January 4, 2012 2:20 p.m.

    Good list, and it raises great points. But DKC's sequels didn't get worse. (And while I realize he said less impressive, which is different from worse the point is still there.)In fact DKC2 improved on everything from the original, and had a better soundtrack. I can see where you'r coming from with dkc3 which was in no means a bad game. And as for dk64...read the other comments. But Metroid and Megal Gear were great rebirths. captcha: typical eeipic....eeipic job guys. Typical from GR.
  • rob619 - January 4, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    MGS the greatest video game ever. I will never forget my finest gaming moment, the end of MGS where it told you a message, real world one, about nucleur weapons. Solid Snake/Big Boss = Legends
  • Imgema - January 4, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    Ah... Metroid Prime... What an amazing game that was. A true Metroid game in 3D. Bravo Retro. Too bad OtherM ruined it for all Metroid fans. Now Retro has to revive the series once again because after OtherM i can't say the it has a bright future anymore. Also, im not sure if Resident Evil 4 changed the series in a good way. I still prefer RE Remake on GC. Yes, maybe the older games were slow and clunky but at least they were scary. And i'm not talking about the jump scares, im talking about the tension as you slowly explore an abandoned mansion while a nice eerie music plays and you hope for no zombies to appear because you don't have enough ammo. Resident Evil 4 threw all that away and became a pure action on-rails game. It still has some good atmosphere but no worries, RE5 came out and threw that away too.
  • shawksta - January 4, 2012 10:06 a.m.

    There's nothing Wrong with Other M besides the voice acting, but thats controversal to opinion.there were some shake ups but everything else makes perfect sense if you know your sh*t, and the gameplay is the same as Super Mario 3D Land, where it sits between the 2D and 3D games.
  • Imgema - January 4, 2012 2:25 p.m.

    There are too many things wrong with OtherM (if you want to call it a Metroid game that is). Voice acting is only a minor thing.
  • DecoyOctorok - January 4, 2012 3:57 a.m.

    Good list, Mikel. I'm still holding out hope for a sequel to the 2008 Prince of Persia though. GTA III would have been another good one. It was a mildly popular PC series until they pulled an Ocarina of Time and put you into a fully 3D world from a street-level perspective.
  • higgins78 - January 4, 2012 3:29 a.m.

    A few great examples here Gamesrader, a few however not so good but overall an excellent attempt. Like a few people here have already mentioned, DK64 was not only a huge rebirth but a phenomenal game to boot. Resident Evil 4 and Sands of Time (again) both excellent examples. I don't see however why MGS made the list where Mario 64 did not, MGS (PS1) being after all doing nothing more (or less) than Ocarina. Mario 64 did more, much more than simply shifting the perspective, Nintendo arguably building/engineering an entire console/joypad for this particular game...this with Metroid Prime, Resi4 and Sands of Time are 4 shining examples of developers truly on top of their game.
  • shawksta - January 4, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    This isnt best revolutions, its series that died but then Rebirthed, you guys need to read, Zelda and Mario were both revolutionary, but they never died and rebirthed.
  • shawksta - January 3, 2012 9:56 p.m.

    Rare went Apesh*t(hah) with DK64, you needed an EXPANSION pak to put on the fron the N64, and while it IS different, that game was F*cking awesome back when i was a Kid, i swear that game never gets the praise it deserves.
  • Person5 - January 4, 2012 12:37 a.m.

    the expansion pak wasn't even a big deal because it was included with the game, DK64 is one of my favorites on the N64 but I always seem to be in the minority, I'm glad I'm not the only one with fond memories of that game
  • shawksta - January 4, 2012 10:01 a.m.

    Yeah, but I guess thats the point, it was exclusive for that game. It was cool, and im sad Chunky never returned, atleast Lanky did, and Tiny somehow......went.... Through puberty......or something.
  • wingsdjy - January 4, 2012 1:32 p.m.

    The expansion pak wasn't exclusive to DK64. Majora's Mask also required it, and Perfect Dark was pretty much a coaster without it.
  • Daruniah - January 3, 2012 5:47 p.m.

    One of the better Top 7s I've read in awhile. I really like these reference Top 7s that sort of become the authority on whatever topic they're discussing,
  • brizzie - January 3, 2012 5:32 p.m.

    The original isometric Fallout's were far better than the FPSRPG franchise it has become. ReCaptcha: vacent Reference

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