Five Game Reboots That Crashed and Failed (But Could Have Made It!)

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We live in an age of reboots, soft reboots, and reimaginings. Sometimes they blow us away... sometimes they really don't do well. Sometimes you get absolute failures like Bomberman: Act Zero or Resident Evil 6. Other times, a good idea comes out, but no one pays interest. Here are five reboots that, whether rightfully or not, barely made it out the door just long enough to have it shut in their face.

Dark Void (2009)

Dark Void was an odd choice by Capcom. A NES era shoot-em' up with a quirky old school science fiction backdrop didn't sound like something a lot of gamers would latch onto. So, when Airtight resurrected it, they turned into a hybrid air combat game like Rogue Squadron, and a full 360 degrees third person shooter. Only problem being, the game had to be rushed for release.

As a result launched with some notable bugs and a fairly short campaign mode. There was also no multiplayer included to compensate for the shortness of the campaign. And, while I will admit that I am one of the few that did find something worthwhile in it, most gamers did not. It reviewed poorly at launch for its limited final product, and despite some additional DLC, Dark Void flopped overall.

The lesson here being, sometimes just because you have a good idea, doesn't mean people will take your word for it.

If you'd like to give it a try, it's running an average of $4.99 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2013)

It really sucks, to be 2K Marin. No matter how hard they tried, with Bioshock 2, and The Bureau, their work seems destined to always be treated like unwelcome blots on other peoples' franchises. The Bureau was given such a harsh response when originally revealed, that it went through at least one complete redesign before release. Ironically, this redesign in response is what hurt the game in the long run.

The original concept was to allow you to go in the field as an agent, while retaining all the original game's strategy focus. You'd have to face enemies that would be much harder this time around, requiring you to study them from afar and hope you beat them "next time."

You would have to make significant gameplay choices, like if you'd convert a miniboss as a temporary deployable unit, or break it down for research. XCOM's base management was still fully included, on top of all this. You'd also still have to manage your soldiers and command them in the field using the similar tactics of the original XCOM. Sounds amazingly fun, doesn't it? Well, please feel free to point that out to the XCOM fanbase.

What did we get instead? A really fun but nowhere near as innovative prequel TPS-strategy game in the vein of Brothers in Arms meets Mass Effect. The writing was strong and the game itself was decent, but even after the developers bent over backwards to try and cut out what fans perceived as bad choices, a lot of what might have made The Bureau amazing was lost.

The lesson here being, that sometimes your fanbase isn't the most trustworthy source of input when it comes to game design.

If you'd like to give it a try, it's running an average of $9.99 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Resident Evil 6 (2012)

While technically Resident Evil 6 is not a hard reset of the Resident Evil franchise, it is for all intents and purposes, a reboot. This is a game made to wipe the slate clean, set up new characters, and drastically shake up the gameplay. How did it do? Well, it sold over eight million copies, but got review scores going as low as 5 to 6 from some critics. It also is decried by a large majority of the Resident Evil fanbase.

This isn't to say the ideas Resident Evil 6 explored were bad on their own. It tried to incorporate ideas from Dark Souls, Max Payne, and the development team's own unique tweaks to the survival-shooter subgenre. The co-op mechanics were built heavily around replayability and crazy matchmaking meet ups.

Unfortunately, this also tied to an utterly absurd narrative, and some awfully prolonged final boss fights. Resident Evil 6 is effectively three games in one package, and as a result, the excess of one-off mechanics and confusing decisions left it a directionless mess overall.

It's hard to tell if Resident Evil 6 is just a case of an intriguing concept stuck to the wrong IP or a genuinely terrible game that only a niche audience would enjoy. Considering the other recent series flop Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, maybe it's best Capcom approach future multiplayer focused entries with greater caution.

The lesson here being, innovating for innovation's sake isn't what people want. They want innovation that grows and aids your product.

If you'd like to give it a try, it's running an average of $19.99 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

THIEF (2014)

After Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a lot of people were both curious and dubious of 2014's Thief reboot. While technically this is a "soft reboot" like Resident Evil 6, you wouldn't know it. In fact, the reboot itself was not very clearly defined in a lot of ways until final release.

Multiple creative teams over the course of several years took the game from first person to third person and then back to first person. There was an experience system for killing and stealing but then fans got upset, so that was cut. There was going to be one huge open world then it became a hub-based game. For some reason, the reboot even chose to focus on the horror aspect the original game had with zombie enemies (sorry, still no dinosaurs).

What released was not so much a game as a melding of confused elements that had, at times, no coherent connection. This was further complicated by Dishonored, which released a year before and was effectively Thief 2.0 with new ideas on top, and an unfortunately similar tone and style as THIEF. So what few unique elements THIEF had to claim became fewer and fewer.

THIEF arguably did better than most of the games on this list, though, in spite of its many problems. Square Enix continued to support it post-launch, and even included it recently in its Stealth bundle alongside Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Hitman: Absolution.

The lesson here being, too many cooks can ruin a great dish.

If you'd like to give it a try, it's running an average of $29.99 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Syndicate (2012)

My feelings on this game are well documented on this site, and just like The Bureau, this is a game effectively throttled by the original game's fanbase.

It didn't matter that Syndicate basically did Watch_Dogs before Watch_Dogs was a twinkle in Ubisoft's eye. It didn't matter that it was by Starbreeze, who had shown with Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and The Darkness that they were (and still very much are) a competent developer.

It was Syndicate, as a shooter -- and those five words doomed the game to being shunned.

The particular irony to this one is, it did not review badly. Most places had to admit that it was a genuinely good game, even if a few reviewers, like Jim Sterling, found it forgettable. Most scores were around 7 to 8, which is pretty good for a complete series reboot.

Still, the fanbase insisted it was bad by default, so the game sold terribly. It struggled to break 500,000 units on launch day, and while it still has a trickle of sales now, the damage was done. EA put enough faith in the game's co-op to even remove its Project Ten Dollar from the game, but even that couldn't sway interest. Now it remains one of the highest-polish bargain bin games available.

The lesson here being, sometimes keeping a closed mind benefits no one.

If you'd like to give it a try, it's running an average of $9.99 to $19.99 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC.

Published Apr. 22nd 2015

Featured Columnist

Grumpily ranting at this computer screen since before you were playing Minecraft. For more of my work: https://elijahbeahm.contently.com/

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