‘Annual franchises’ seem to have become a staple of the video game industry. The gaming landscape just wouldn’t be the same without the yearly sports titles and Call of Duty‘s. The pervasive sequel culture reeks of anti-consumer knavery on the behalf of the developers. We want something fresh, not the same game with a new coat of paint. But, every so often, a title is released that is beloved by the masses or offers a unique experience. Yet, for some reason, whether it be poor sales figures or issues behind the scenes, these games never seem to get a sequel. Eventually, these franchises just become remnants of a time gone by. Today, I want to explore three series that need reviving.
Double Fine‘s 2009 heavy metal action-adventure RTS was a sleeper hit and is now considered a cult classic. If you enjoy heavy metal, Jack Black, and melting demons faces, then you will have played Brütal Legend. The moment-to-moment gameplay of Brütal Legend incorporates different elements for varying genres. The combat is reminiscent of classic hack ‘n’ slash games, while the real-time strategy elements keep the game from being just another action-adventure title. Playing as Eddie Riggs and wielding his trusty battleaxe, the Separator is fantastic. The game is rich in gore and features decapitations along with a variety of other methods to maim enemies. The brutal combat and unique talent of using Clementine, Riggs’ guitar, to perform literal face-melters is always funny.
Source: Brütal Legend Wik
This game is full of comedy, satire, and classic Jack Black charm. The opening scene of the game depicts Eddie Riggs, played by Jack Black, as the “greatest roadie of all-time”. He is caught in an accident, after which he is transported to a demonic landscape full of heavy metal enemies and characters. The game has a star-studded cast, such as metal great Ozzy Osborne, as the Guardian of Metal, acting as a vendor who allows the player to upgrade their vehicle, the Deuce—perhaps the coolest car in gaming history. Other notable celebrities include Tim Curry, Lemmy Kilmister, and Rob Halford.
WHAT WE WANT
A key aspect of the game is the RTS mechanic. The player can acquire minions, each offering a different ability. For example, the Headbangers act as generic infantry, while the Razor Girls are designed to be used at longer ranges. Synergies between units can be made by commanding them and by organising them, much like you could in a game such as Total War. When moving forward, I would love to see even more units added, and for more diversity added to the play styles available. If different mission types were added that required different approaches, it could offer a nice distraction from face-melting. I would also love to see battles being played out on an even larger scale, like Total War. Imagine capturing a citadel adorned with demonic symbolism in the aftermath of a legendary battle.
The thing that always struck me as odd was just how short this game was. The game can be completed in about ten hours or so. If a follow-up were to be made then I’d love for the story to be longer, offering a full narrative that explores more than just the vapidity of modern metal.
Source: Giant Bomb
A sequel to Brütal Legend has been discussed by Double Fine developer Tim Shafer. But, unfortunately, in an interview with Game Spot, he has said that it “would be tricky” to raise funds. Regardless of the likelihood, I’ll remain hopeful of Eddie Rigs return.
If the concrete jungle and high octane gameplay of Grand Theft Auto is too much for you, then you should try Bully. This 2006 action-adventure title puts you in the shoes of Jimmy Hopkins. Jimmy is from a broken home and has been expelled from seven schools prior to joining the infamous Bullworth Academy. Jimmy was designed to be just like any other kid. His regular appearance and small stature provide the player with an underdog feeling.
The school is located in the town of Bullworth, which is fully explorable. As the seasons progress, you get to play a range of different content. New missions are unlocked that offer a break from the main narrative. Bully‘s story is surprisingly compelling. In fact, it offers my second favourite narrative of any Rockstar game, behind Red Dead Redemption. As you progress through the narrative, you see Jimmy grow emotionally. As a player, you genuinely begin to feel for Jimmy and care about his story.
Source: Bully Wiki
Due to Bully being set in a school, you do have to attend class. But, this isn’t as daunting as you may first think. The classes are essentially just mini-games. If the player passes a class, then they unlock a new skill. For example, by passing the various chemistry classes, the player can unlock Stink Bombs, Itching Powder, and Firecrackers. If a sequel were to be produced, then even more ways to ruin your schoolmates’ day would need to be added.
Each clique within the school is identified by their own unique aesthetic. Each stereotype within the school tends to meet the general stereotype, but still have their own representatives in the narrative. For example, Argie the nerd, is overweight and wildly unappealing. His jeans are always unzipped and he is just generally uncool. He’s essentially Carl Wheezer from Jimmy Neutron.
The best character, however, is Gary Smith. Gary is a manipulative antagonist who uses subterfuge to attain control. He is so unnecessarily evil that he dresses as a Nazi for Halloween. Gary is labelled by others as a “sociopath”. He represents the very best that Rockstar has to offer—the Iago of Bullworth. Moving forward in the series, I would love to see Gary return, or a new character who represents similar egotistical pursuits of power.
WHAT WE WANT
If a follow-up title were to be produced by Rockstar, then the question arises as to what happens with the story. Is Jimmy still our protagonist? Do we remain in the town of Bullworth, or do we visit a new locale? Can we choose the classes we attend? Is the relationship system further fleshed out, rather than being restricted to mini-games?
The world of Bully was expansive and fleshed-out in a 2006 gaming climate. But, many modern titles have created worlds that are just as colourful over a much larger area. Surely the world of Bully 2 would be much larger, and offer an even wider range of content.
A sequel to Bully has been rumoured to be in development, and is proposed to be released in 2021. With this in mind, it is almost certain that Bully 2 will be released on the next generation of consoles.
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Rainbow Six: Vegas
The Rainbow Six franchise is well-established in the modern world of gaming. Titles such as Siege offer the player a unique, compelling experience. Two of my favourite entries in the Rainbow Six series are the Vegas games. The original Vegas title was released in 2006, with a sequel being released just a year later. These games are intense, third-person tactical shooters. Many staples of modern shooters can be found in these titles, such as regenerating health, and cover shooting mechanics, comparable to those of the Gears of War series.
This series offered the player the chance to control their own unit and to navigate levels themselves. This could mean setting up ambushes and creating your own set-pieces through your own fruition. Other mechanics include repelling and breaching. Repelling allows for the player to climb down structures, and enter buildings through windows, clearing a room whilst dangling upside down with just a length of rope preventing you from falling to your death. The breaching system allows for the player to stack their squad-mates at a door and then breach through. This can be done with flashbangs, frag grenades or can be done without throwing any equipment for a stealthier approach. These mechanics had a unique feel that I had never seen before.
WHAT SHOULD BE ADDED
With Siege receiving constant updates and new content, and another game in the pipeline, Quarantine, it is unlikely that we will see a new Vegas entry any time soon. However, a modern iteration of this series could offer a unique tactical experience. It would be great if the level design was inspired by a game like Hitman 2, offering verticality to levels, and a wide variety of ways to approach the missions. In many modern games, player agency is key. Allowing players to make their own choices, and making them live with the consequences is fantastic. Games such as XCom are a prime example. The tactical, moment-to-moment gameplay of XCom requires strategy and thought, rather than just reflexes. I would love for this series to explore that avenue of gameplay, perhaps having the missions dynamically change based on your approach.
Picture this: you have been tasked with infiltrating a casino. The casino is currently occupied by a terrorist organisation, and they are holding hostages. You decide to go in from the roof and clear each floor as you go, searching for civilians. As you are travelling through, you see a group of enemies. You realise that there are too many to be taken out silently at the same time.
You could run in, guns blazing and risk the hostages’ safety, but also increase your chances of taking out a large group of enemies. If you do this, it causes the rest of the terrorists to go on high alert and could potentially endanger the safety of other innocents. Or, you could instead create a diversion and coax a group of the terrorists to divert their attention. Both sides have their merits, but ultimately it is the player’s responsibility to make the appropriate choice.
Whether you want to be stealthy and take a covert approach to the levels, or whether you want to be an action hero and burst through each and every door using breach charges. The main things I would want from a sequel would be further player agency, more ways to do things, and greater specialisation choices.
In Payday 2 the player can specialise into different skill trees, each offering various buffs and abilities to the player. These buffs can range in quality, but each skill tree has its own overarching theme. Abilities can offer better accuracy for your weapons, or a greater affinity for hacking and lock-picking. It depends on how you, the player, want to play. With another Vegas game, I would love for this to be present. If the game works the same as the two current titles, and allowed for you to instruct two other party members, then perhaps you could customise each one. This could allow for replayability if the option to approach a level differed based on the skills you have selected, or it could allow for you to craft an unstoppable taskforce, full of Doomguy-esque badasses, or a team of Sam Fishers, sneaking through a terrorist-riddled landscape.
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The second game in the series added an unlock mechanic to equipment. Weapons could be acquired through completing challenges and progressing through the game, while the armour that was unlocked allowed for the player to tailor their play style. Each piece of armour had a value assigned, indicating how effective it was at preventing damage, as well as how lightweight it was. The lightweight equipment would allow for greater maneuverability, while heavier armour would offer greater protection.
I would love to see all of these franchises return because they were a part of my childhood. I can only imagine what the developers could do with the modern technology and tools available to them now.