I am starting the list by breaking the rules and including two games at the same time, just because I’m feeling like that much of a badass. This is because “GoW” here stands for both Gears of War and God of War, making testosterone content of this entry so dangerously high, simply reading it may physically turn you into Dog the Bounty Hunter. The reason I am taking this risk though is because these two franchises are in an identical situation right now, one that is probably beginning to make a lot of lactose-intolerant gamers gassy. Both GoW’s have just completed their major trilogies with perfectly satisfying bangs that nicely tied everything together. Two or less years later, both are receiving sequels, which are prequels or something, that feel entirely too similar to the previous games. It’s like serving us up a very satisfying dinner, and five minutes after we finish the spot-on dessert, offering a nice juicy steak. I am sure that these new outings will be tons of delicious, goretastic fun, and will probably introduce some new elements to their respective series but with the finales that both franchises have just received, there was all the momentum for a long power nap or a drastic change in direction. If you must keep releasing GoW’s to make that guaranteed buck, at least, give us a setting that feels immediately fresh or tell a story of some other dudes with a good reason to disembowel things. Surely, an angry meat-head is not too difficult to top.
5. Metal Gear Solid
Hideo Kojima has confirmed that Snake (pictured) is set to return in Metal Gear Solid 5 (the mustache still unconfirmed), but don’t let that “5” fool you, this series has seen a total of 23 (twenty three) releases up to this point, 17 (seventeen) of which came out in the past 10 years. Yes, that is why you might not be particularly craving a new one. Another reason could be that MGS4 was meant to be and was in every way the series’ finale (before we got another prequel that is). As a matter of fact, Kojima wanted to kill Snake at the end but instead opted to include that scene where two old guys discuss gardening techniques (right?) for half an hour. The real bummer though is that this keeps Kojima from directing something fresh.The dude may not be much of a storyteller but boy does he know how to go the right kind of crazy. Hate him or love him, he is capable of exorcising boredom out of anything, whether its’ with some random gameplay trickery, unexpected wackiness, cheese, or even just plain old creeptastic weirdness. Can you imagine a completely new Kojima sword-and-magic RPG in the vein of Skyrim or a GTA-style urban sandbox game? Exactly, you can’t, because the guy is as unpredictable as the contents of his breakfast bong, while his peculiarities are always grounded just enough to understand without forcing it. Yet, this man is continuously confined to the same game universe all these years…
Back in the 90’s, Sonic was uber cool. He had the moves, the “I’m awesome and I know it” smirk, the spiky hair, the jewelry, the squiggly finger gestures and the funky red shoes. Today, that’s a description of a 100% authentic douchebag. Not only that, since Sonic 3, there has been such a relentless barrage of crap Sonic games that a mere thought of another one makes me cringe like a midget in a crowded elevator. I’m sure that every Sonic title has a fan somewhere, where there are no other games present in a thousand mile radius, but for an average gamer, the stink that now surrounds this once-great franchise cannot be neutralized with just a decent new outing. That would be like spraying cologne on a filthy bum who just crapped himself. He needs to be showered in the most potent eau de toilette, or better yet, removed from society for awhile and returned a new man before someone willingly approached him without first taking a careful whiff from afar. I realize that Sega is probably pointing at Mario–the most exploited character in existence–and encouraging themselves to keep at it but one thing they really need to understand is that Mario has never sucked as much, or for as long, as Sonic has been. At this point, the only chance of salvaging this once-icon is to put him in a coma and let gamers forget and start wondering what happened to the guy. Then, Sega can remind everyone why Sonic was once cool with a worthy comeback. Currently, he is just a douche who won’t shut up about his former glory, which is getting increasingly harder to believe ever existed.
3. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy series is in a unique position where each entry is adequately independent enough to somewhat alleviate franchise fatigue. Even though this is such a long-running series that they have run out of numbers and have now started assigning shirt sizes to the sequels, I doubt that many people will voice annoyed outrage if a decent FF game is announced tomorrow. So the real reason this IP needs to go away is not because I feel like everyone is tired of its’ story or anything; it’s because the FF department of Square Enix desperately needs to refuel creatively and see where most modern role playing gamers are at the moment. They need to take a long break, or to speed things up, have a Kurt Russelesque shirtless man sneak up on each developer and deliver an amnesia-inducing elbow to the back of the head (shitty video games cause violence), then have them read some books, play some modern RPG’s and reconsider their approach to storytelling, character interaction, combat, dialog and everything else that is stale about Final Fantasy. Oh, and while they are at it, they should really consider paying someone, who can actually write English and give him/her massive authority to take liberties with the translation. Perhaps, the whole thing will be somewhat tolerable enough not to want to shoot Acid spells in your eyes and ears.
2. Need for Speed
As far as I’m concerned, the 1994 Need for Speed for 3DO was the first game to introduce the experience that is now considered racing genre standard. It was and still is an exceptional title that started my long and forgiving relationship with the series, which was only broken in 2005, when EA kicked the franchise into milking overdrive that I just could not keep up with. See, when it comes to successful franchises, EA is like a fat kid who receives access to copious amounts of delicious candy and who cannot not stop stuffing his face with one after another, and then two at a time, and then more, until his cheeks are covered in sticky goo and two candy-colored snot streams are drag racing for his weary mouth. NFS got the worst of it, by far. If I enter a game store today and ask for “the latest Need for Speed”, I have no fucking idea what to expect: will it be a racing sim or an arcade-style game with cop chases? Will I be free-roaming the street-racing underground or maybe even running on two feet instead? Sure, even in its’ infancy, this franchise was not exactly consistent in style but the games were always about racing exclusive cars and circling a balance between realism and fun that would always retain the feel of NFS, even in that crasy-ass second one. Today though, if EA makes a Street Fighter-type game with that car-wrecking section, they will likely call it Need for Speed: Beatdown. Someone needs to take away that “NFS” stamp from EA brass ASAP because it’s killing the good ol’ Need for Speed, the game. Make Shift its’ own series, take Underground and Run and Shower and whatever else they have into their own directions and consider just what exactly an NFS game should be and stick to the same genre. Do so after a long break because rebooting NFS now will just make everyone think that it’s yet another oddball installment.
1. Silent Hill
I hate to make this about me again but I must mention that Silent Hill 2 is honestly one of my favorite games of all time, and I don’t use these words lightly (that shit will get you killed ’round hear!). The first two games were a stunner one-two punch that still have me thanking destiny for throwing this whole video game thing my way. Even the third game had a right to exist because it dealt with a very intriguing ending of the first one. Silent Hill 4: the Room though was already one sequel too many, not because the game was bad (I loved it) but because it was yet another trip to the same damn place. I realize that Konami cannot do what 2K is doing with Bioshock (switch setting), because they cannot name a game after a location and not feature the location in it. This is precisely why this series has no choice but to go away. Even if they do decide to stop butchering any dignity or reputation Silent Hill once had by developing a decent game, there is no getting around the necessary repetition. If there was a chance of Team Silent, the makers of the first four games, making one final sequel that would explain just how Silent Hill turned from a mystical personal purgatory of a couple of extraordinarily tortured souls into a creepy stalker, trolling every unsavory character in existance, then I’d be up for it but as it is, just stop it. Let us miss the foggy streets and actually want to experience the same ol’ place again in some futuristic HD.