It was quite refreshing to see a lot of original games at E3 last month. From BioShock to Mass Effect to Spore to Crysis to Haze to Assassins' Creed to Gears of War there are a lot of upcoming games that are not sequels or franchise extensions. Still, we find ourselves in the deep game doldrums of summer looking back at all those great first person shooter franchises of the past. There are a bunch of titles that have been released in the past decade that we would like to see remade or return as a sequel. So we decided to put down these thoughts in the form of an article (which of course is what we do for a living anyway). As we looked back on all those great FPS franchises that have not seen a new game in several years, we also remembered how good they were in the first place and while many of these title may never return we hope this article will inspire some developer or publisher to perhaps revisit them one day. (Remember, Ritual finally returned to the SiN universe with SiN Episodes nearly eight years after the first game was released).
Basically, our criteria for inclusion in this list were pretty simple. The first person shooter franchise must be a good one and one which hasn't had a new release for at least the past couple of years. It also shouldn't have an announced game in the works (so Duke Nukem Forever isn't allowed). With that in mind let's look at the shooter games that we would like to see more of, in no particular order, along with our predictions on whether or not they will be revived.
Aliens Vs Predator:
The animalistic hive creature and the alien hunter are huge movie properties for Twentieth Century Fox and have been the subject of comic books, novels and arcade and portable video games. But it wasn't until UK developer Rebellion released a PC first person shooter game in 1999 that had playable Aliens, Predators and Colonial Marines that the franchise really took off for gamers. It was one of the few shooter games that allowed for three completely different types of gameplay experiences and its multiplayer modes, while flawed, still allowed you to do things like get players by being a face hugger. Monolith created a sequel that followed the same formula in 2001 that was even better. The team-ups worked so well that the movie Alien vs Predator finally was released in 2004 (although it deviated from the game formula so much that it was a critical, though not box office, failure)
Odds For Revival:
Possible. The two games were both critical successes and with a sequel to the AVP movie now officially set for production this fall, can a new Aliens vs Predator game series be in the works as well? Our fingers are crossed that Vivendi Games (the publishers of the franchise) can bring this back in time for the movie release. We hope that they decide to stick with the game formula, however, rather than just make the typical crappy movie adaptation.
Soldier of Fortune:
Perhaps one of the most controversial game released by a major publisher, developer Raven Software and publisher Activision took a risk with this series. When the first game was released back in 2000, this modern day action title used a real soldier of fortune, John Mullins, as both a consultant and as the fictional persona of the player as you went to various locations to basically shoot lots of bad guys. The violent content of the game, which allowed people to blow off body parts, actually was threatened as being classified as an adult movie in the Canadian province of British Columbia. A sequel in 2002 raised the ante on violence and blood but was even better than the original.
Odds For Revival:
Unlikely. With Raven working on Marvel Universe: Ultimate Alliance and the upcoming next Wolfenstein game, it doesn't look good that they will return to this franchise for a while. However, the two Soldier of Fortune games are still fan favorite so we are not shutting the door on this series. We would love to be in John Mullinsí shoes once again.
Yet another franchise from Raven, this fantasy shooter series began life as an Doom engine title way back in 1994 and was the first showcase for Raven to use id Software' graphics engine in new and interesting ways. The gameplay was also different in that you had both fantasy weapons and spells that you could use. A sequel, Hexen, was released in 1995 and in 1997 yet another game, Hexen II, used id's Quake engine (and let you send sheep in the air). Finally, Heretic II, using the Quake II engine and changing the gameplay to a third person action game was released in 1998. Critically acclaimed, the game unfortunately did not sell as well as expected.
Odds for Revival:
Slim to None. As we mentioned above, Raven already has a lot on its plate at the moment and there's also the fact that the last game in the series wasn't really a commercial success. With not a lot of urgency from fans, the Hexen/Heretic franchise seems to be pretty much dead. Itís too bad, since the advances that are being made for the Doom engine would make a Hexen revival very interesting indeed.