Video Game Reboots: Natural Evolution or Shallow Cash Grabs?

This Week in Gaming is a weekly column where Vikki Blake breaks down the biggest stories in gaming each week. This week we’re talking about resets: the good ones, the bad ones, and why they’re almost always necessary.

dDespite what user reviews may tell you: the “awakened” developer had the nerve to allow you to create transgender characters, which has naturally angered the usual dirty corners of the internet – the row of saints reboot is fine. Yeah, it’s got bugs, no, it’s not a particularly cerebral experience, and no, I suspect its boring story won’t be in line for a BAFTA this year, but if you’re into shooting stuff (check), blowing shit up (check), and, generally going through a city causing as much chaos and destruction as possible (double check), then gets the job done…particularly as there isn’t much else available at the moment.

For what it’s worth, I enjoyed my time as The Boss in row of saintsIt’s Santo Illeso, although I never would have taken it if they hadn’t forced me to do it for work. All about the “old” row of saints turned me off including the 1990s Walnuts mag-esque “lol sex toys are funny innit” marketing. By the time the giant purple dildos came along, I had already retired from the franchise. And given the series’ disappointing sales, it seems I wasn’t the only one.

For when a new row of saints was announced last year, however it seems the team had a pretty radical rethink. Rebooting it with “a brand new setting, brand new characters, and a brand new tone, all updated for today’s player” was an inspired move. A brave too. While you’re not quite up to the task of being a firefighter or being a high school substitute teacher, the hardest job on the planet I think, it’s not easy to look at something you need to pay the bills and decide it needs a major overhaul, maybe even at the cost of alienating the few people who liked your something in the first place.

row of saints  Credit: Deep Silver Volition.
row of saints Credit: Deep Silver Volition.

Here’s the thing: I’ve met thousands of developers in my 15 years of writing about games, and I haven’t met a single one who legitimately doesn’t give a shit. I’m sure there are, heck maybe the ones I’ve interviewed are just great actors but I’ve never met one and yes that includes the great developers I’ve met from the “evil” corporate studios you just love. hate. Many, many terrible games are made, but few if any developers set out to make them terrible. This is why studios like Volition should be supported, not scorned, as they attempt to correct course several years later.

I mean take a look at tomb Raider. Although she was long praised for her leading lady, something that remains surprisingly unusual, even in 2022, I was always under the impression that Lara Croft existed because guys wanted to see a big pair of boobs on screen and not because girls wanted to play. super paper. -cool heroine. After releasing games nearly every year for a decade, the series took a break in 2010 and returned with the brilliant tomb Raider reboots in 2013, breathing new life into a dry franchise and fusing riveting mechanics with bombastic adventures.

A new 'Tomb Raider' game is coming, made in Unreal Engine 5
Tomb Raider. Credit: Crystal Dynamics.

assassin’s Creed Nor has it been immune to a rethink. Despite churning out assassin-flavored games on a regular basis for the past fifteen years, Ubisoft halted its development machinery in 2016 with an eye to reinventing its tried-and-outdated formula. 2017 gave us Origins of Assassin’s Creed – my favorite installment of all time (followed closely by Cassandra’s romp in Odyssey a year later), which revised the blueprint for what an Assassin game could be, incorporating more RPG elements and making the world around you as important as the action sequences.

Arguably an even bigger hit was the 2018 reboot God of War. While it was always incredibly well-received – just look at the series’ Metacritic rating – the 2018 reboot sits in the annals of history as one of the greatest games of all time, elevating developer Sony Santa Monica to some kind of high pedestal. on which Naughty Dog perches. . The upcoming sequel is one of the most anticipated games I have ever met.

God of War
God of War Credit: Sony Santa Monica

All of these franchises are among some of the biggest and best-received games ever made, and I firmly believe this is no accident. They all made the terrifying decision to take an existing product (some of which were highly regarded by passionate fans) and reinvent it, modernizing the control schemes, mechanics, and style and tone to better reflect the world we live in.

You can call it a cash grab. I call it innovation. And Christ only knows that there are enough other games out there that could also work with a (re)boot in the ass…

What other thing?

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