The Golden Age of Game Reboots

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve travelled back in time, back to when my computer had only 32mb of Ram and Half Life was the greatest looking game known to man. Why? Because games such as Thief, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry and more being released again. But sadly time has not gone back in some funky paradox. These are remakes. Wait no, reboots. Sorry.

To start with, what the hell is a reboot? Well it’s a remake but on a grander scale. A remake of a whole series as appose to just one instalment, starting again from the beginning, hence “rebooting”. Like with a computer and often enough, ones that run Windows 8. So you get all your beloved, old characters and old story lines told again with new features such as … Square Enix’s ingenious “I can see everything highlighted” mode known as Instinct, Survival instinct, or whatever Instinct Garett has in the new Thief. Great stuff!

Reboots are the saving grace of many struggling developers and for this have gained a negative attitude from many as they are viewed as a lazy and controversial means to make easy money. This is done by cleverly exploiting the trust of many fans that love a classic series and at the same time, bring in the new ones to maximize sales.

Reboots could reflect the sad image of a greedier and more exploitative game industry; that would rather use an old idea again rather than to produce a new IP. Why? It takes time, effort and creativity to produce new concepts and refine them. Then you run the risk of it failing. So, many developers would rather go for something slightly safer, something they know will sell. An old and popular franchise will have a ton of loyal fans and bringing it back to life like a horrible Frankenstein monster, will peak their interest. Interest and money! If Elder Scrolls online or EA are part of that image then we’re all pretty screwed out of our wallets.

From what I’ve said so far, reboots are pretty negative. They’re money grabbing, lazy and uninspiring right? Just Like Activision. Well Reboots aren’t all bad. A reboot could be used for good.

Reboots can look back at what was wrong with the original and improve it for another generation to appreciate and make it more engaging. With the vast improvement of technology, certain classics can now have a greater design with improved controls, graphics, physics and mechanics for advanced and dynamic gameplay. Improved technology has helped the new age of hack and slash games as combat can be tweaked for the ultimate experience. Ninja Gaiden is a prime example, once a retro classic; it came back new and improved, fast paced with attitude and boobs. Advanced improvements and correcting those pesky mistakes from before. Unless you’re Thief, then you’ll still have the same bugs and glitches as before.

Reboots are reimagined to reflect the current era we are in, to portray and observe the highs and lows of everything in the world. Sounds rather pretentious, but with old games being revamped, many developers, writers, and artists want the game to represent more than just what it was long ago. They want gamers to understand and relate to the game more than ever before and to do this you need an emotional connection. An example would be the new Tomb Raider reboot.

Time ago, Lara Croft was just a big breasted Indiana Jones impersonator who was kicking ass as a powerful female icon, but pretty cold in nature. Just ask those poor bears she shot. Now with the series rebooted, the developers wanted to start again and with a new Lara. A different and more human like character, which cried while killing a dear but, seemed fine to shoot guys in the face. Still, she showed empathy and emotion to the situation she was in. They could present emotion and sensitivity within our heroine which developed rather well in the extreme story line. A beloved character from the 90’s now rebooted, symbolising the changes in our time. The new Lara looks at how far women have come and shows a mature look at females in gaming.

Another classic that does this, but not as well is Thief. The game takes on the same idea, but introducing a stronger empathises on themes relating to class division, struggles of the poor and the impact of greed.

Yes it can be brilliant to reimagine something old to make it better. But, what if they change it for the worse? Taking a much loved game and remove certain qualities to add in new ones that may not work. What if the original was considered flawless? So, how about DMC?

DMC was not loved, sadly, from a shaky start with a trailer everyone hated and a character no one wanted to play. DMC was looking pretty dire until we saw more of the combat and style which many grew to like. With its new style and imagery, Ninja Theory decided to include themes and styles relating to the current generation. This game was to reflect the current state of the world by using a manner of brilliant satirical themes, including mockery of propaganda media, misuse of religion, capitalism, consumerism along with the hardships of youth and family all with a hard-core punk paintjob. All of these themes were used for emotional connection, elements of game play and ascetics to bring something truly timeless.

Yet, many still dislike DMC and favor the older Devil May Cry. This could be because many loved the Castlevania inspired style and design of the older games. That’s all good, but after some time, it became shallow and by 4, there was no sprit or soul in the game anymore. It had lost its purpose and felt old and tired. Loosing track of its own story and mashing up different plots, events and usually leading to an unsatisfying end. Still its fun to play something mindless and fun. . . but Devil May Cry 4 killed it dead for me. That was a poor excuse of a good series. Same four bosses three times? Yeah, fun!

Reboots is a mixed bag and have many problems in their wake. But, where will reboots go? Will Reboots just take over everything?

I doubt it. Reboots are a difficult thing to get right. Look at XCOM, the FPS version from 2010. Came out with a trailer, everyone hated it; the developers tried again and made a terrible game which everyone hated even more and ask for the FPS version. But XCOM did come back with a new game similar to its older brothers which everyone enjoyed. But, Is it a reboot, or a remake? Bah, who cares. Reboots are tough to make.

Final thought on the matter. Reboots can be ok as long as it has a purpose and adds to improve and make itself more exciting. That’s all we ask for from game reboots. Unless it’s Medal of Honor. Then that’s a NO.


                                           Reboot Incoming

What’s your relationship with reboots? Love ’em, hate ’em, can’t wait for them to hit? Let us know in the comments what reboots you’ve taken a fancy to or just plain not understood. That’s gaming! 

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