Who remembers that terrible TV show eh?
We have been well and truly in the era of the reboot (not the TV show) for some time now. Why would anyone want to release an actual new idea when you can just rehash something people loved years ago and sell it to them again using the power of nostalgia? Over the last few years, there’s been a glut of remasters, rereleases, and reboots. That’s a lot of re, and whilst the cynic in me thinks about how much of a cash grab in me, the gamer in me has seen some genuinely fantastic returns from classic franchises. This is dedicated to the reboots that were actually worthwhile.
For clarification’s sake, a reboot is resetting a series or presenting it in a whole new way. This can include reboots that are technically in the same universe as previous games (prequals and such) that might use the original game’s name. Remasters and rereleases are not the same as they’re simply the same game with a new coat of paint and maybe a few updates. That’s right, Crash Bandicoot, go somewhere else. Let’s do this!
MMM! This is some good stuff! An utterly revered franchise that practically made the FPS genre (yes, I know, there were plenty of other before) that gradually slipped into legend after Doom 3. Whilst Doom 3 was a pretty good game, it very much lacked the frenetic pace and overwhelming hordes of the classic games. It seemed like Doom had had its day. Then news of the reboot started appearing.
At first, it didn’t look too good. “What’s with all this yellow?” people said. “Why is the Doom Guy mantling on everything? I don’t want parkour!” complained others. Well fears that this wouldn’t be a proper Doom game were proved unfounded when we got an utterly incredible, fast past, brutal, FPS game filled with the classic monsters presented in a fresh and exciting way. The pace was once again relentless, the classic weapons were back with a bang, and the Doom Guy was as nails tough as ever. The multiplayer was a little disappointing, going a bit too far into modern conventions rather than the arena shooter insanity it was known for, but that single player campaign was one of the best FPS experiences I’d had in years. I’d certainly welcome a DOOM 2.
DmC: Devil May Cry
I remember buying the original Devil May Cry when I was in college. I was torn between it and Silent Hill 2 until a random bloke in the shop said that he reckoned I’d like the former more. Not wanting to upset a random stranger, I purchased it and went home. Don’t worry, I bought Silent Hill 2 a couple of weeks later. Anyway, I loved it. It was cool, creepy, fast paced, and boy was it hard! That spider boss (Phantom I think?) killed me an insane number of times, but I refused to drop it to easy mode. Because I’m also cool. The follow up was a bit rubbish, but the third and fourth entries were both very good. Then, nothing for a few years, and then a reboot was announced! And people were not happy. Dante has DARK HAIR NOW?! What is this madness?!
If you look past the character change (and the rather mean spirited “Not in a million years” moment), there’s a hell of a solid game here. The visuals are excellent and the combat is top notch and very satisfying. It’s certainly a bit easier thanks to the far more accessible combo system, but there are still plenty of very challenging difficulty modes to select and/or unlock. I had so much fun with this that I purchased the updated version on the current console generation and had a blast playing it through again. Whilst there were mistakes, the overall package was a hell of a fun reboot.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
It’s a funny one this, because I think the original Prince of Persia series is remembered as being far better than it actually was. It used that control/animation style that meant everything you did had momentum and took far longer to do than it should. Flashback did the same thing as did a lot of games from that era. At any rate, it was a series that was well remembered enough to get a 3D reboot in 1999. This was terrible. But then they had another crack at it and brought out Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.
Well, this was much more like it! The game was actually fun to control for a start! Wall running, parkour, and a great combat system combined with the wonderful rewindeing mechanic to very much reinvent the series as a 3D action adventure. It was great fun and the trilogy is still quite well regarded (yes, even the edge-lord laden Warrior Within) over the few years they were released. Then they tried to reboot it again in 2008 with next to no success, meaning they went back to their original reboot with a spin off. I guess that sort of success can’t carry on forever.
Ok, so this is the obvious one, but I’m including it for another reason: I hated the original series. I found the controls in Tomb Raider to be too sloppy, and the environments a chore to navigate. I couldn’t understand why it was so loved by so many. Regardless, it was very popular until it was gradually run into the ground with sequel after sequel. Tomb Raider gradually faded away, until 2013 when the reboot (that was also a prequel I think?) turned up. And it was good!
I actually really enjoyed this. Everything felt much tighter rather than the floatiness (it’s a word!) that I disliked so much previously. Whilst it had those crafting mechanics that I didn’t much care for, there was a somewhat interesting story, plenty to explore without being overwhelming, and optional tombs with enjoyable puzzles. The tombs weren’t perfect and were a bit brief, but these were brilliantly built on in the sequel. This genuinely seemed to revitalise the series, and we’re due for a third entry in this new run this year.
Ah, here it is. The series I loved as a child and played far more than was healthy. A horribly tough strategy/tactics game that had far more depth than my child-like mind could handle (that’s probably still accurate to be honest). Position your base of operations on the globe and try to develop your technology and expand your influence to repel the alien invasion through careful planning and successful tactical battles. It was very, very hard. The second game was similar, then things started to move away from the formula that people liked so much. Apocalypse was a bizarre real time/turm based mix. Interceptor was a space combat game (although I enjoyed that). Enforcer was a third person shooter of all things! Then, the reboot happened.
This is how you do a reboot. Take what everyone loved from the original and keep it in place whilst streamlining to bring it up to modern standards. The world view was there but less of a faff, the technology race remained but was clearer, and the tactical battles were as intense as ever but with fewer needless buttons. There was even a plot of sorts! The Enemy Within DLC added even more ways to play and increased the threat of the aliens. And fans of the classic could rest easy, as the game was as hard as ever. The follow up was better still! I’ve lost hundreds of hours to this rebooted series, and I’ll probably lose more in upcoming runs.
Some special mentions as ever. The Killer Instinct reboot was a masterstroke as it was released with a free-to-play model in which you could try characters out and buy them if you liked. So much better than the current fighting game model of buy the full game then buy the DLC characters without being able to try them out. At any rate, it modernised the series well for the new console generation. Wolfenstein: The New Order brought back a classic series rather well after many attempts to reinvent it. It took it in an alternate reality direction and did something that more FPS games need to do: made the weapons feel genuinely powerful. The fact it came out around the time people were getting sick of modern military shooters certainly helped too.
And that’s it! What rebooted series do you love? There are probably a lot of other classics that have received a highquality revitalisation. Let me know what you’d include.