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Invention Again

Every single year we’re treated to franchise indulgence. Call of Duty, Madden, PES, the list goes on. But yet, I’m finding myself increasingly tired of all of this franchise milking. Some of the milk was sweeter after it had been around a while, COD4 for example, but some of it’s going stale. So, who wants stale milk? You do. You buy and lap all of this milk up every year and every single time it comes out. Whether as an expansion pack or a full blown game – you lap it up.

If you don’t, then congratulations, you have sense! Every single year it is just about the same taglines – ”we’re redefining the franchise”, “tons of  new features”, “another exciting installment”. I for one am sick of this, not just because it’s cheesy and cheap to do, but it’s copying from the book of Sonic. Yeah, you know Sonic. That little blue hedgehog who once had games you enjoyed and not games you want to fire into the sun or chew down with salt. Franchises are Sonic!

Every time a Sonic game is released, something is radically different. In some cases in franchises you have to keep changing your image and refine every bit of your game (COD4 again for example). But sometimes it just falls straight on it’s face and ends up like Sonic. Sorry if I’ve come off the subject slightly, but this is just one example, and I yearn the day when a Sonic game can actually be that glorious little blue hedgehog dashing around to wonderful hypnotic graphics. Ah.

Let’s just look into one of these franchises just to show you how much they don’t change. FIFA is a good one. FIFA has been around for more than a decade, it’s a football game with the focus on control rather than fun that PES has. A couple of years back it decided to change itself, which actually worked in my opinion. It overcame the king of usual football gaming – PES and went straight into the bestselling list at christmas. But the last few installments, they’ve just been the same with updated graphics.

FIFA O9 is on the top and FIFA O9 is on the bottom. What’s the difference? Any radical changes you can see? Just a little more graphical polish and control uplift. It’s a bit like your Christmas, you get a new jumper every year from your granny. It’s a jumper, it’s warm and sometimes made of different fabric, but it’s still a jumper. This is what franchises do, they make sure you know them inside and out because they think change is bad and scares the fans away.

I can imagine some genius down at Infinity Ward was thinking “HOLD ON, THIS SUX!” and realised that WWII games were becoming repetitive. You’ve got to admit, overthrowing a fascist empire for the billionth time does get boring – no matter how much you change it. They decided to totally take their fans out of there comfort zones and throw them into Modern Warfare. That’s how you do a franchise right, scare people by doing the game again.

Keeping games the same just leads to repetition and repetition is boring. It’s the same thing every year and let’s just take a look at another example. Guitar Hero. I love Guitar Hero to be honest, it somehow penetrates my mind’s usual cynicism and plugs into my “LET’S ROCCCCKKKK” mindwave. But really, NINETEEN installments, doesn’t that seem a little over the top. At the end of the day it’s a simple button-mashing game, but with a cheap plastic guitar and a handful of tracks each  release.

Rock Band came along and gave the middle finger to Guitar Hero, while stealing most of it’s mechanics. Once again, it’s just a button-mashing game, but with a cheap plastic guitar, cheap drum periphral and some microphone that nobody uses. It was a really fun game though, probably better that Guitar Hero. But GH decided to cash in on this and did World Tour, basically Rock Band but with a handful of exclusive tracks and the GH paint job.

You’ve heard me ramble on now and I hate to rant. Actually I love it and it makes me feel special. But I want you to make a decision for yourself. What would you rather do? Spend £40 ($60) on a game, play it to death and then buy the sequel next year, which has slightly better mechanics. Or would you rather just want one football game or one guitar hero, which is constantly updated with patches and DLC. I know which one I’d choose… neither. Because I have no friends 🙁

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  • Tim Rogers

    Very, very true about the Sonic games!