The Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation was considered by many to be one of the greatest, just because we got some of the best games ever out of it. Think about it. The Uncharted trilogy, the epic God of War games, the Gears of War games, the Halo series…and those are just the major franchises.
That generation also presented to us a number of cult classics that, while not the highest when it came to sales, still struck a chord with gamers on some level, whether it was with their great amount of action, or some other factor that stuck with us and never managed to let go.
So, since we’re seeing so many high-definition remakes on the market right now – like this week’s stellar re-release of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age – I thought it would be a great idea to revisit some of these lost cult classics, and provide reasoning as to why an HD re-release would be justified. After all, if a game like Bulletstorm can get the treatment, then why the hell can’t something like Vanquish?
Let’s run through a few examples of games that deserve a second chance…
There’s high hopes for this one, if only because Sega recently debuted the game on Steam, giving it the proper 4K treatment and ridiculous speed that it deserves. So, why stop there? After all, if Bayonetta can make her way back into the spotlight, then so can Sam Gideon.
Vanquish is just as much a classic as Platinum Games’ other efforts on the Xbox 360 and PS3, with its frenetic action, insane visuals and wild gameplay, which has you delivering everything from rocket-powered jump kicks to well-timed blasts to the head. Plus, it still looks fantastic to this very day – even on older game hardware. Imagine a remastering at 60 frames per second on 1080p, like we saw on PC. Drool.
Split/Second (Disney Interactive)
Disney may not have realized it at the time, but at one point in its short but sweet gaming history, it had two masterful racing games to its credit, both from Black Rock Studio. The first, Pure, was an adrenaline pumping motorcycle/ATV racer with some gusto. But its second effort, Split/Second, was even better.
In this game, instead of using your car to knock down opponents, you use traps set on the track itself, like a wrecking ball, explosives and other objects to throw them off course. You can even change the course in itself, setting off a bomb so big that it practically forces you to go off-track to get a first place win. We still love it.
We didn’t get nearly enough “grindhouse” style games in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era, so you can bet that we damn well appreciated the madness that was Wet. In this exquisite third-person action/adventure, you play Ruby, a bounty hunter who’s been wronged by the worse kind of criminal – and will stop at nothing to get her bloody revenge.
What makes this game stand out – besides the sweet vocal stylings of Buffy’s Eliza Dushku – is the awesome stage design. One minute, you’re battling through Chinatown against armed thugs; the next, you’re on the freeway, jumping over exploding cars while chopping off limbs with your sword. There was nothing quite like this game – and I want it back.
It saddens me that Activision didn’t nearly give the racing game Blur enough of a chance on the market. Shortly after its release, the publisher shut down the development team at Bizarre Creations – the same group that brought the Project Gotham Racing series to life.
But what a note to go out on. Blur is the best kind of arcade racing you can get on the market these days, with great track design, effective power-ups (damn lightning storms) and a variety of cars to unlock. If any game ever deserved a second chance on the market, it’s this one. Ask any of its many players.
50 Cent: Blood On the Sand (THQ)
The problem with most action games these days is that they take themselves way too seriously, and don’t nearly have enough fun with their content. But, after the somewhat muddled 50 Cent: Bulletproof, the rapper went back to basics with the awesome action game Blood On the Sand.
In the game, Fiddy and company chase after a valuable skull, which has been taken by a bunch of bad guys. It’s up to you to clean house with a number of weapons, either alone or with a friend, in your effort to get back your “mother f*ckin’ skull”. A fun classic if there ever was one.
Alan Wake (Microsoft)
Although Remedy Entertainment is more than busy working on a new property, there’s something about Alan Wake that truly stands out from the team’s previous work on the Max Payne series. It’s dark, it’s moody, and, best of all, its jump scares are actually justified.
You follow a novelist as he delves into a deep story, attempting to save the woman he loves in a town that’s on the cusp of complete darkness. It’s phenomenal how effective it remains after all these years, and an HD treatment of this material would certainly be justified. “It’s not a lake, it’s an ocean.”
What a weird and delightful little game Catherine is. Well before Persona truly took off the way it did, Atlus caught quite a bit of attention with its weird little love story/puzzle platformer, with several bizarre twists to go along with it.
The thing that stands out the most about Catherine is its strange story, which involves the mysterious aforementioned character and her crazy antics – and doing whatever it takes to make poor Vincent Brooks obey. This is a cult classic if there ever was one, and an HD version would hit the spot.
Spec Ops: The Line (2K Games)
During the peak of their popularity, military shooters were all the rage – but the likes of Battlefield 3 just didn’t offer anything in terms of telling a real story. (Instead, we really could’ve cared less.) However, Spec Ops: The Line was truly different, as it brought a lot of moral choices into paly, making you feel the weight of your actions.
The game basically has you battling against rogue enemies who aren’t quite what they seem, and that has the lead character questioning a lot of what he does, including what comes next. The action is pretty standard, but it’s well done, and the multiple endings you can uncover really stick with you long after the game’s over. The Line deserves a re-release, especially in these troubled times.
Shadows of the Damned (Electronic Arts)
Yes, at one point, Electronic Arts was all about releasing innovative games for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, alongside its usual licensed fare. Alice: Madness Returns and Shadows of the Damned arrived at about the same time, and while Alice is a superb title, there’s something about Shadows that truly stands out.
This odd but delightful demon hunting game comes to us from Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture, and is as weird as it gets, with a talking demon gun, goat’s heads that act as door opening switches, and all sorts of strange creatures to gun down. On top of that, the story is incredibly original, and the style just can’t be beat. This is just begging for rediscovery.