Video Games

March 21, 2014

Appleton: Four video game franchises that should continue

Last week, I wrote about four video game franchises that need to seriously re-evaluate their approach (or stop approaching entirely): Castlevania, Dynasty Warriors, Ninja Gaiden and Call of Duty. These were all solid franchises at some point, but I feel as if they lost their way over the years.

But what about the other side of the coin? There are some franchises that should continue. There are even a few that could make a fantastic comeback.

What games will rule 2015? Here are a few of my choices:

Mass Effect

A new "Mass Effect" game is coming to the Xbox One and Playstation 4. BioWare , the game's developer, has already confirmed that the game is in an advanced stage of development.

Mass Effect is one of the most influential and important franchises of the last decade or two, and I really hope the newest incarnation can live up to its predecessors.

"Mass Effect 3" was one of the first games to feature characters that happen to be gay. These are not to be confused with gay characters. They are not the same thing. The difference is that a gay character is a stereotypical representation of a diverse group of people. Video games are way behind on issues of sexuality and gender roles. A lot of these characters are written in solely to give the game an appearance of diversity.

"Mass Effect 3" broke this trend. There are a few characters who do exactly what everyone else in the game does: they kill aliens, work on the ship and form social bonds with the main character. They are no different than anyone else. They just happen to be gay.

This forward thinking and the franchise's track record of excellent graphics, gameplay and storyline could make it difficult to meet the expectations of a remarkably fickle gaming community. Regardless, I think BioWare will pull it off.

Final Fantasy

This franchise is ongoing and in no danger of going away anytime soon, an important point because many single-player role-playing games (RPG) are going away. Some of its best franchises like "The Elder Scrolls" and "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" have transitioned into the massively multiplayer online genre (MMO), while many others have simply faded away.

Final Fantasy was actually the first single-player RPG franchise to put out an MMO, and it recently did it again with "Final Fantasy XIV." However, Square Enix (the game's developer and publisher) didn't allow these games to inhibit the pretty regular release of our beloved and traditional single-player games.

The franchise is 25 years old, but it remains fresh due to an ingenious concept: each game plugs new characters, mechanics and ideas into a tested formula. For example, "Final Fantasy VIII" is not a sequel to "Final Fantasy VII." They are similar in a lot of ways, but they are also really different. The franchise has strayed from this recently; this year saw the release of the second sequel to "Final Fantasy XIII." I would much rather have seen the effort put into a completely new title.

However, Square Enix is already hard at work on "Final Fantasy XV." Oh, Final Fantasy, I can't stay mad at you.

Fallout

This franchise is in a tiny bit more jeopardy than the previous two. "Fallout 4" has not been officially confirmed.

However, I stalk the franchise daily and can tell you that this game is happening. Documents have been leaked. Cell phone photos of résumés have been intercepted. Little birds have been singing. I've probably said too much.

The game will almost certainly take place in Boston, which is a fabulous choice. "Fallout 3" used the historical and cultural significance of Washington, D.C., to enhance its post-apocalyptic story. "Fallout: New Vegas" did the same thing with Las Vegas.

This blending of familiar and totally unique images is only a small part of what makes Fallout the most balanced video game franchise around. The games are funny and light but dark and twisted. Players can save orphans, or they can instigate gang wars that result in entire towns being wiped out. Anything is possible.

Here's to hoping that the development of "Fallout 4" goes off without a hitch.

Turok

This one is completely out of left field. I had this exact thought in the shower about a month ago: "Why haven't they rebooted 'Turok' yet?"

The Turok franchise centers on the title character and his struggle against evil men and wild dinosaurs. It is based off of a comic book series of the same name.

I think dinosaurs are primed for a comeback. I can't be the only one out there sick of zombies and vampires. Dinosaurs are bigger and scarier than those things. Plus, they were real. Things are much scarier when they are based in reality. They are making a new "Jurassic Park," so why not strike while the iron is hot?

I think a polished, well-funded Turok game could really shake things up. However, that is much easier said than done, and I can't imagine we will ever see a new one. But, hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

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About Rory Appleton

Rory Appleton

@RoryDoesPhonics

A gaming guru, Rory Appleton tackles the hottest games and issues making news in the video game world. Email Rory at rappleton@fresnobee.com .

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