With ‘Shenmue 3’ and ‘The Last Guardian’ Coming, What’s Left for Gamers to Dream Of?
From 'Half-Life 3' to anything strong from the SEGA stable, here are the games we're still thirsty for.
The unthinkable happened in 2015. A full Final Fantasy VII remake was confirmed, The Last Guardian turned out to be A Real Thing that's Actually Probably Almost Certainly coming out, and the long-hungered-for Shenmue 3 launched with an ultimately record-breaking Kickstarter – and all three got announced at the same E3 presentation. Brilliant, obviously; but overnight, millions of 30-somethings clinging onto memories of their gaming youth now had no mythical release to delay getting married for anymore.
Will any of the above three be worth playing, though? Only time will answer that question. FFVII is surely doomed to fail however excellently it emerges, given its makers intent to effectively build a new game in its name. It's not going to be what you remember, and that'll turn favour amongst a great many fans, whatever its individual merits. The other two have their precedents, but also the factor of the unknown in their favour: we don't know what to expect, and that's a good thing. But we do know they're coming. So what do we have to pine for now?
Turns out, there are a few games in the "might happen" bracket that we can still pin our dreams to – most likely in vain, but you'd have said the same thing about Shenmue 3 just a couple of months ago. Another Syphon Filter? You might want to not hold your breath on that, you freak of gaming fandom. But it's a fair bet that many a pad-wrangler has let their mind wander into the what-if territory of their grey matter over one of these TBC titles, eyes glossy and gob dribbling.
We may as well get this out of the way immediately. Yes, there is a massive, too-big-to-fit-through-a-portal elephant in the room, and Half-Life 3 is its name. Half-Life 2: Episode Two left us with a cliff-hanger back in 2007, and the promise of a third chapter. Several years on, and bar some subtle references in 2011's Portal 2 to the worlds of these games being connected, makers Valve have maintained radio silence on a third Half-Life proper.
However, they'd be idiots to not do something more that fits within the official Half-Life canon – which leaves the question of: what, exactly? What form will the game that will ostensibly be Half-Life 3 take? The second game was more filmic than its 1998 predecessor, and relied heavily on its physics innovations within environments to tell a story; but since then Valve has created Steam, embraced online play, announced that all of its future games will involve multiplayer, and gotten into virtual reality. Is a modern gamer still okay with a silent protagonist like Gordon Freeman? Is a crossover with the Portal series a no brainer? C'mon Valve, shake a fucking leg.
A remake proper of GoldenEye 007
Let's just be clear from the off: this is never going to happen, and even if it did, you wouldn't enjoy it. GoldenEye 007 defined my gaming youth. I spent all three years at university mastering Rare's N64 original and five subsequent years trying to emotionally blackmail mates into playing it again. But it's had its day.
Nobody is quite sure who owns its rights, for starters. It could be Rare, Nintendo, Activision, MGM Studios, Sean Bean or some guy in a Reading bedsit. Which makes the successful negotiating of its license akin to getting six numbers on the Lotto: unlikely, to say the least. And have you played the N64 game recently? It's not what you remember: the once-huge stages can be completed in two minutes; the graphics are awful; and the slowdown is unbearable.
GoldenEye 007 is unfair, silly, occasionally (unintentionally) hilarious and incredibly buggy – as this previous VICE article pointed out. And the thing is, that's what makes it work so well. A remake would remove the glitches that make replaying the game with mates in its groundbreaking multiplayer mode any fun at all, and could well do away with local multiplayer entirely, as we've seen with the forthcoming Halo 5: Guardians. Much like the TimeSplitters series, GoldenEye was great as much because of the people you played it with, the people right next to you, as the game itself.
The 2010 Wii remake maintained many of the original game's best aspects, once you optimised the controls, such as new objectives on higher difficulties, the choice of weapons, the option to be stealthy or gung-ho it, and featured local multiplayer. Yet it still failed to satisfy, coming out in a year that gave us such shooters as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Halo Reach and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Today's array of FPS heavy hitters would make absolute mincemeat of a current-gen GoldenEye remake that really went for (aging) fan service over contemporary relevance. So maybe this is one to leave, forever. If you're desperate for some 007 action, dust off the N64 and book those old uni pals a babysitter so you can get together again for one night only.
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The people of Konami are cleverer than you think. They know that gamers will do anything to get their hands on titles stuck in development limbo for the longest possible time. At least, that's one way of looking at the company's decision to cancel the Kojima and del Toro-helmed Silent Hills and pull its playable teaser, P.T., from the PlayStation Store – so that they can surprise everyone by releasing it in a few years' time, prompting fans across the world to open their wallets more willingly than ever.
This one has got folklore written all over it. A talented filmmaker with a terrifying artistic vision; a franchise fondly remembered waiting to be reborn; the unfulfilled potential of what the maverick behind Metal Gear Solid might have brought to the party; a fully playable preview of sorts of what could have been; and even a confirmed title. Everything was in place. Everything still might be, but when, who knows? What's certain is that all the ingredients were there for something truly special.
Another horror title that continues to be admired long after its release is Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, which came out for the GameCube in 2002. With Resident Evil unsure of what direction to take as a series, Penumbra last seen in 2008 and Dead Space having lost its way with an action-focused third instalment, it's intriguing that Eternal Darkness is rarely mentioned as an IP worth reviving. The original studio, Silicon Knights, is no more, yet creator Denis Dyack's expressed interest in developing a sequel to Sanity's Requiem. He teased a follow-up in 2014, Shadow of the Eternals, and Nintendo intriguingly renewed the license earlier this year, prompting fans to get excited. At best, I'd imagine an HD remake of the original is coming, but you never know.
Beyond Good & Evil 2
On the subject of niche GameCube titles, we're at a point now where so few people will likely know of or still care about the first Beyond Good & Evil that a sane man might question: why bother, at all, in 2015? Yet the 2003 game – also released on PS2, Xbox and PC – was a critical smash and a cult hit, coming across something like a Zelda title set in a very adult world. It had huge variety in its gameplay, and lead character Jade was immensely likeable. Director Michel Ancel – who also created the Rayman series – had planned for a trilogy, but poor sales stalled development of a second Beyond... game.
A trailer came out in 2008 that got fan hopes up – but since then, nothing much has been released regarding the state of Beyond Good & Evil 2. Ancel said back in 2011 that his intent was to make it for what was then the next generation of consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That year also witnessed an HD reissue of the original, presumably put out to test the public's appetite for the franchise.
So where's the game at, now? Ansel's formed his own indie studio, Wild Sheep, but continues to contribute to Ubisoft projects. Perhaps he's waiting for the larger company to relinquish the Beyond... rights, so as to work on a sequel that he feels is worthy of its predecessor's reputation? Perhaps the scythe's already fallen, and we simply don't know about it? Whatever the game's official status, you can bet that right now, someone's getting excited about the possibility of its release, however far into the future that may be, frothing at the mouth whenever an image appears on the web of a humanoid pig wearing a dirty vest. It's okay. We'll wait for you to wipe your keyboard off.
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A new Legacy of Kain title
We know that a new title in this series was being worked on as recently as 2012, but it has now been 12 years since we saw last saw the title character Kain properly, in a game of his own – he did appear in a playable form in DLC for Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. And that's a shame, as Kain is an interesting chap. He's dead, for starters. Well, sort of. He's a vampire who's not too happy about it. Kain came from a wealthy background, has some power issues and a genuine character arc. In the Legacy of Kain titles he was essentially a complicated antihero you liked, becoming a jaded despot in the Soul Reaver games, casting his friend Raziel into damnation for evolving wings before him.
Two cancelled titles since Kain's last headlining appearance should suggest that this is a series that's run its course, but a spin-off multiplayer game Nosgoth, which launched its open beta in January 2015, could yet prove the kindling necessary to get a new Legacy of Kain title into a finished state, awakening latent interest in the franchise. Maybe not all is as lost as we thought.
Anything vaguely decent by SEGA
Oh, SEGA. What have you become? Nintendo fans get angry when their new Metroid game isn't the Metroid game they think they deserve – but at least they're getting a Metroid game. Imagine being a diehard SEGA fan and lamenting the great many franchises the company is seemingly content to let rot.
Blazing Heroes. Crazy Taxi. Virtua Fighter. Gunstar Heroes. Space Harrier. Ecco the Dolphin. Headhunter. Space Channel 5. Virtua Cop. Wonder Boy. NiGHTS. Super Monkey Ball. Thunder Blade. Golden Axe. Skies of Arcadia. Daytona USA. Rez. Hang-On. Panzer Dragoon. Columns. After Burner. Jet Set Radio. Chu Chu Rocket. I could go on, but there's no point as you've got it, the point, already.
I'd take pretty much any of them. Arcade racers swapped fun for simulation years ago, Need for Speed and Burnout games aside, with the genre vanishing up its own boring "take-a-fucking-driving-test-using-this-£300-steering-wheel" backside. What I'd give to enjoy a new, proper SEGA racer, in the vein of Out Run, Daytona or SEGA Rally. A new entry in the Streets of Rage series could be amazing, played cooperatively online. After Burner and Space Harrier make perfect VR games (we've already seen how well they work in 3D, on the 3DS). A whole host of SEGA's catalogue past can be applied to today's player habits and made to fit with barely any gameplay compromises.
There are more interesting, quirky characters in SEGA's dormant series than a generation of game designers could know what to do with. The company knows its sitting on an embarrassment of riches – but I suppose those 100 million downloads for Sonic Dash prove that all gamers want is throwaway distractions based on classics from yesteryear. What does it say about SEGA's ambitions when Yu Suzuki had to take his Shenmue series away from the company, to Sony, in order to proceed with the third game? On the plus side, Yakuza 5 is coming to the West later in 2015. Only took you three years, guys. Great job.
The Last Guardian
Guys, let's face it. We're being trolled and it'll get pushed back to the PlayStation 5 any day now. Put me down for a pre-order.
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