Things are about to get real in one week. So real, in fact, that it will make The Real Housewives of [insert city here] look partially staged and slightly exaggerated. That’s how real things are about to get.
But now it’s time for this article to get real. So, without further ado (and much less ado than last week’s article), here are the top five games I want for the new Xbox.
Let’s clear the air on a certain matter: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was not a bad game, but it was a bad Banjo game. A series that began as two awesome collect-a-thon platformers on the Nintendo 64 system turned into a Lego vehicle simulator. Gone were the wide assortment of tag-team moves shared by the lovable bear and bird combo, replaced with custom-built vehicles that, for the most part, handled quite poorly unless the player was Xzibit himself. Characters were re-appropriated and forced to play different roles, roles that didn’t mesh well with what was established in the previous two games.
Hell, even Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge for the Game Boy Advance stayed more true to the series’ roots. What I, along with countless other fans, want to see is a proper end to the trilogy: a 3D platformer with lots of items to collect. Improvements can certainly be made, like cutting down on the amount of backtracking and slightly shrinking down the massive levels seen in Tooie, but this game really needs to feel like another installment in a franchise made for the late 90s and early 2000s.
None of this is all that likely, however. Many key people who helped initially make the series what it was left, including two of the three founders, meaning the franchise is left mostly in the hands of people who were much less involved with the first two games. What is somewhat likely is a spiritual successor to Banjo-Tooie. While this particular game would be the creation of another company, a few of the members are ex-Rare, people who really know what the Banjo games are about: hilarious characters, tons of cool moves, and a googolplex of collectible items.
2. Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake was a fantastic yet underrated little gem for the Xbox 360. In the long time leading up to its release, it was hyped up year after year as an open-world game where you can explore the town and surrounding area by day and fight the dark creatures at night. A lot of the hype also came from the fact Remedy was developing, creators of the massively popular Max Payne games.
When it finally released, a lot of sacrifices had to be made, making it a lot more linear than what was previously shown. And that was about the moment talk went dead. Reviews were fairly positive all around, but the excitement was just gone. Perhaps Remedy initially set their sights too high. Or maybe everyone went mute from the sheer awesomeness of the game.
Alan Wake ended up being a tightly-paced thriller with great characters, a new and fun combat mechanic seen in the use of the flashlight, and an intriguing plot. This is one of those games where the marketing didn’t lie: it really felt like playing through a fast-paced TV show.
So can gamers expect to see more of Alan’s adventures as he tries to… wait, never mind. Spoilers and whatnot. But to answer the question: yes. Gamers can certainly expect something in the franchise to be revealed this year, and every tidbit of information is pointing to a proper sequel. Please, Microsoft and Remedy, make it so.
3. Star Wars Battlefront 3
Surprisingly, there are a lot of sequels on this list. Unsurprisingly, they’re sequels people actually want. In the case of Battlefront 3, it’s a sequel that was going to be released, but stuff happened. What that “stuff” is boils down to he said/she said, but this time it’s a case of developer said/publisher said.
None of that matters anymore. Disney has granted Electronic Arts exclusive rights to publish new Star Wars games and industry talk points to three EA-owned companies currently working on or about to work on new games: DICE, Visceral Games, and BioWare. The inclusion of DICE is what makes this particularly desired game so likely: they’re the creators of the Battlefield series, the original inspiration for Battlefront.
If DICE can make a Battlefront 3 that plays a lot like the most recent leaked footage of the cancelled game and looks even better, fans be finally get the proper sequel they’ve been waiting for.
4. Bully 2
What a beautiful idea for a game: players get to relive their worst memories of middle school, but this time, they’re the ones creating those bad memories. That’s a game anyone should be able to get behind. Despite the game’s name, players aren’t forced to bully helpless victims. In fact, most of the people main character Jimmy Hopkins fights are bullies themselves. Too bad that message wasn’t received by some people.
The Xbox 360 is getting the latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series this year, so what can Rockstar Games do as its first step into the next generation? It’s too soon for another Red Dead game. Table Tennis? Count everyone out. There’s nothing left but to make an amazing sequel to Bully. The original creator, Rockstar Vancouver, is now defunct, but any other Rockstar studio could do it.
The original game was a great, almost-family-friendly alternative to the highly controversial Grand Theft Auto series, and a sequel should no doubt take cues from more recent offerings in its more violent cousin* franchise in addition to adding new features. If Jimmy isn’t the main character, make them customizable. Allow people to play as either a male or female with differing storylines. And if Jimmy is still the main character, create a female counterpart to still allow gamers to switch between the two genders. It could make for some interesting scenarios unique to either character. Follow GTA 4‘s lead and allow the protagonist to have a smartphone. But don’t make socializing with other characters as annoying a requirement as it was in GTA 4.
There’s so much that can be done with another Bully game. Like its predecessor and the recent Lego City: Undercover, Bully 2 can really be the kind of open-world game that isn’t marketed solely to teen boys. There truly aren’t enough of those. Plus it’s hilarious. What other reasons would Rockstar need to realize this game must be made?
*I can no longer type “cousin” without triggering flashbacks to “Hey cousin, wanna go bowling?”
5. Something new
Hold up. Put away the pitchforks. Yeah, I know. We all love sequels. 80 % of this list is comprised of sequels. But there is a hunger for something new and the next Xbox needs to make like Snickers and satisfy that hunger. Much like Halo was something new at the time (a console first-person shooter that controlled well and paved the way for countless “Halo-killers”) and made people want to buy the original, the next Xbox needs something like that.
It doesn’t have to be a shooting game. No, it shouldn’t be a shooting game. Not a racing game, either. Probably not a fighting game. Okay, this isn’t helping. I don’t even know what I’m asking for here. But all I know is I want something that will wow me and wow the industry. Yes, that’s a lot to ask, but it’s been done before. Why can’t it be done again?
A pretty solid list, if I do say so myself. In the end, all these games look pretty feasible in some form. There will probably be a game very similar to the old Banjo games some time in the future. It’s pretty much confirmed there will be an Alan Wake 2. If EA has a fraction of a fraction of a brain and even the slightest bit of a thirst for MORE MONEY then they will surely make Battlefront 3. I don’t know enough about what’s going on with Rockstar to know how likely Bully 2 is, but I think I’ll continue hoping for it.
And something new? Something different? Very unlikely. This is the video game industry, after all. But that won’t stop me from wanting that. Indie games in recent years prove new games can be made. But now it’s a matter of scale. Can a triple-A developer do something similar with their vast resources and talent?
As always, we’ll wait and see.