5 franchises that need facelifts

Combos, open environments, mission structure, reliable controls, content

Take a damn break.

Last year, Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground hit shelves against EA’s more realistic Skate. Despite Proving Ground revamping and tweaking a significant portion of Hawk gameplay (including a better video editor and the Aggro Kick speed booster), the series felt tired. Here’s why: in eight years, Activition released nine Tony Hawk games. Other sports titles like Madden and NBA Live warrant annual releases with completely updated rosters and new feature sets. What has changed that much in the world of skating? Apparently, the answer is the addition of cities and the cast of Jackass.

Activision: take a break. Reboots don’t mean anything when titles are released all the damn time. Or, if that’s what you’re content on doing, please stop paying for professional skaters and passing the buck to your audience. An annual $60 fee for a new city to skate in is ludicrous. You obviously know how to improve controls and include kick-ass features, but a new Hawk lumbers in with the excitement of a new Tomb Raider as opposed to the latest in the SSX series - existing without any anticipation.

Above: All we need, really

Recent rumblings suggest the new Hawk will becontroller-less. Can that be the shot in the arm the decrepit skater desperately needs? After perfecting the controls, can rewriting the core gameplay help? All we know is we just want Classic mode back. And a decent story mode wouldn’t hurt either.

Excellent storylines, open-world cities, soundtracks, weapons, vehicles

Better moralistic choices, RPG elements that matter

At the risk of making a blanket statement, Grand Theft Auto is a trend setter. The jump from 2D to 3D, not to mention the logical shift from cartoony 3D to holy shit 3D had an adverse effect on gameplay design. GTA’s innovation rippled through the industry for plenty of me-too clones, bandwagon jumpers and formula tweaks. So why do we think GTA needs a facelift? Because we can’t shake the feeling that between GTAIII, Vice City, San Andreas, Vice City Stories, Bully, Liberty City Stories and GTAIV, we’ve been playing the same game since 2001.

Above: Yup, we’ve done this before

Sure, reinvigorating tweaks here and there provided motorcycles, varied terrain, improved weapon aiming, better combat and a new wanted system… but so what? We’re still kind of bored. We’re still some low level thug aggressively climbing our way to power through the right connections. And we do it without major consequences. Sure, there’s still some big talk about moral ambiguity in the series. You don’t have to kill everything that moves, even though you’re given plenty of murderizing weapons like sniper rifles and grenades.

Because of this, our problem lies with your moralistic choices. In GTA IV, the tough choices were limited to the fates of a couple of people. Some missions weren’t open to you later or you lost something vaguely beneficial. Big deal. The folks at Bethesda and BioWare - makers of Oblivion/Fallout 3 and Knights of the Old Republic/Mass Effect respectively - know how to make your choices impactful.

Rockstar - let us decide whether the snitch you’re hunting lives or dies. Maybe he’ll reward us and we can work with him on a drug run? Let us kill a powerful mob boss during our first meeting. We might lose the guy’s mission selection, but we’ll gain notoriety and possibly have a hit put on us. What if we set up shop in a dinky apartment and hire our own lackeys? Open this world up to us without becoming an MMO. We just can’t shake the memory of Niko Bellic insisting he doesn’t kill in his many cutscenes, yet the very next thing he does under our control is knife a jogger in the throat.

Dec 17, 2008

They've been broken for years. Here's how to set them right

Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox and Pokemon need drastic changes. Here they are