Soooooooooooo. The latest entry into the Devil May Cry series, fantastically titled DmC: Devil May Cry (which is sure to send those that hate redundant acronyms in off the deep end) was revealed at TGS. As if to prove that old theory about ‘fear’ and ‘change’, the internet does not approve, howling its despair impotently into the night at the new direction that Enslaved devs Ninja Theory has taken with the game.
To be fair the hordes of angry digital villagers, Dante’s new look is terrible, all mid-nineties heroin chic and forced brooding menace. But this isn’t the first time that a new developer has taken the reigns on an established franchise. Let’s look at how these other franchises made the transition, good, bad or somewhere in between.
5. Front Mission Evolved
With the release of Evolved, Front Mission is going to be synonymous with big stompy robots crashing about the place in third-person, pretty much like every other game to ever come out on the Xbox 360. We understand the commercial reasons why developers Double Helix changed the series from a tactics-based RPG over to a far more accessible genre, but there’s no getting away from it: the earlier titles by Square (on the SNES and PSOne) are simply much, much better.
4. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
With historical precedent behind them (Castlevania 64, brrrr), many Castlevania fans weren’t exactly ecstatic to see their favourite series rebooted into 3D, not to mention that the development team behind such obvious heresy wasn’t even Japanese. For shame. Then Hideo and his Kojima Productions team came on board, further complicating the matter: would His Royal Metal Gear-ness bring a touch of Japanese sensibility to it, or would he simply ram it to the gills with blathering cut scenes?
Luckily then, that the end result is pleasingly authentic yet enjoyably different. A case in how to get things right when shifting dimensions, Lords of Shadow may be different to the original titles, but, crucially, it retains that core essence of the franchise while successfully doing its own thing.
3. Bionic Commando
Slight hint of controversy over this one, but interesting all the same as, like DmC (that title’s still really annoying, isn’t it?), BC was originally a Capcom series that got farmed out to western devs.
The developer in question was GRIN which, back in 2009, was seemingly busy making about thirty-five games at once, developing the actually-alright Wanted: Weapons of Fate and the actually not-alright Terminator Salvation (good for achievement whores, mind) in conjunction with rebooting BC.
Opinion is decidedly mixed (for the record we gave it 8/10), but for the most part Bionic Commando successfully replicated the aspects that made its arcade and NES predecessors so enjoyable, particularly the swing mechanics, even if it ran out of steam a little. The less said about those ‘sausages’ on his arm, however, the better.
2. Far Cry 2
Far Cry 2 is a weird game. Not ‘bad’ weird, really, just odd in its execution (seriously, how much driving are you expected to do?). A little too ambitious, its niggling faults grow into wider cracks and replace the early, freedom-inspired fun as the hours go on.
What’s weirder still however is the fact that it is called Far Cry at all, above and beyond obvious marketing benefits and the open world similarities. The original Far Cry, developed by Crysis developers Crytek (who sadly are yet to make a videogame adaptation of The Crying Game) was about a man in a Hawaiin shirt shooting mercenaries and mutants in a day-glo tropical setting. Far Cry 2 is about hunting a bloodthirsty mercenary who is destabilising an African region through gun running, and playing various factions off against each other. Oh and malaria. Lots of that.
Both games have their strengths and weaknesses, and it’s entirely possible to argue one game over the other. Either way though, Far Cry 2 is an argument for and against a sequel taking a more serious tone.
1. Metroid Prime
Clearly, this had to be number one, and with very good reason. As with Castlevania, the thought of some westerners taking on this most revered of Japanese franchises seemed to be a signal that all was not right with the world anymore.
This couldn’t be further from the truth however, as Retro Studios knocked it out of the park and showed everyone else just how to make a classic 2D series just as good in 3D. Retro managed to retain that eerie, otherworldly isolation that made the NES, SNES and handheld entries so thrilling by making expert use of the first person perspective, as joyful exploration clashed with the claustrophobia of being ‘trapped’ behind that visor. Brilliant.
So while it may look all bad now, there’s plenty of hope for the new DmC to prove a worthy heir to the series that spawned it. If only it didn’t have that title. It makes us sick just looking at it.