99. The Reboot

More popular than the remake is the reboot; the reinvigorating of an old classic franchise with a new title in the series after a long break.

Some game series died well before their time. Two series from my gaming youth that died premature deaths were the Wing Commander series and the System Shock series. Both of these game franchises sucked up huge amounts of time, especially the Wing Commander series.

Another series that I grew to love was what is now known as the X-COM series. Alongside System Shock, UFO: Enemy Unknown and it’s undersea sequel X-COM: Terror from the Deep were (and still are thanks to the miracle of Steam) some of the most atmospheric and oppressive games around. This was no mean feat given that they were isometric, turn-based strategy games. The trick was in the way that Microprose worked the fog of war, making the aliens very elusive and particularly deadly (especially early on when you hadn’t had a chance to research and cannibalise their technology).

The latest big announcement then is that 2K Marin are resurrecting the series in the form of a first-person shooter for the Xbox 360. This could end in tears to be quite honest. All the ingredients arer there – an established franchise, atmospheric premise and a talented development studio (if you don’t believe me read my Bioshock 2 review on Games Are Evil) – but I’m just not sure how well they can recapture the essence of what makes the X-COM games so special.

Perhaps I’m becoming increasingly cynical in my old age but strategy franchises have never translated well into FPS – C&C Renegade was just plain bad, the next C&C FPS was canned and so was Starcraft: Ghost. I guess the we’ll just have to wait and see if 2K Marin have the talent to score a hit where so many others have failed or just plain given up.

(Incidentally, the inset image is actually the first screenshot from 2K Marin’s X-COM game.)


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