Let’s face facts: many original games never get a sequel, often due to sales expectations not being met. Many of these show potential but just don’t deliver and I’ve often found myself wishing for a sequel, having hundreds of ideas to improve upon the original concept. Before I discovered that writing was my calling in life I had desires to join the gaming industry in a more focused capacity as a designer or programmer. Two years into it though I realized something: a) I’m not good at drawing and b) I just can’t wrap my head around proper C++ code. That didn’t stop me from dreaming up ideas for games that I felt would be well received if done properly. Over the years I’ve kept most of them bottled up within me while simultaneously asking myself rhetorical questions as to why game idea – fill in the blank here - hasn’t been done. I have no doubt that the design ideas presented here are unlikely to ever be done but I still feel that they need to be discussed.
G.I. Joe Returns
Classic G.I. Joe franchise from the 1980s revitalized using modern game concepts and made into a first person shooter using DICE’s Frostbite engine.
G.I. Joe and video games is pretty much the ‘chocolate and peanut butter’ concoction the industry’s confectioners never really took advantage of. Only a handful of titles were ever produced based on the series and even then the license jumped from one developer to the next before disappearing entirely. Last year the franchise was revived when Hasbro and Paramount Pictures got together and released a live action film that, might well be one of the worst of 2009. Being a fan, I was disgusted by both the direction of the remake, the extremely weak plot, downright dumb film design (seriously, ice FLOATS in water) and a disastrous utilization of a collection of great character archetypes especially considering that the film did have a decent set of actors. Worse than the movie was the game: a license tie-in created by Double Helix Games, a studio whose singular previous endeavor was Silent Hill: Homecoming which was a less than stellar effort.
So why hasn’t G.I. Joe been given the proper video game treatment? The question still weighs on my mind, especially now that Hasbro has seen tremendous success with the reboot of the Transformers franchise. I can’t help but think that the technology to create a proper G.I. Joe game simply wasn’t there until only a couple of years ago. Giving the G.I. Joe license to a developer with a proven track record for creating fantastic shooters could well mean some stunning results. So, what would happen if for example... DICE would have a shot at it?
DICE - developers of the Battlefield series - would be a great team to work on such a beloved franchise, especially given their track record on human and vehicular combat. They are hard at work on Battlefield 3 and have their gameplay engine almost perfected at this point. Even now, DICE are still exploring what they can do with a singleplayer experience and the G.I Joe series would be an especially good basis for source material. The almost excessively large meta-universe has a humongous cast of characters and includes stories from both the cartoons and the comics to work with. Singleplayer stories can be based on any number of plots from the cartoons and the M.A.S.S. Device and Weather Dominator miniseries in particular could provide more than enough materials to create a slew of DLC expansions. The only really good product to come out of last year’s Joe debacle, G.I. Joe Resolute, would provide an excellent basis for updating the franchise to modern standards and giving the series a proper video game.
Almost every shooter on the market is compelled to create a multiplayer experience for their game as well. Considering its characters and their unique abilities, G.I. Joe’s rich universe could easily serve up an excellent and varied competitive team-based experience. The base character could be a standard Joe or Cobra soldier and as you rank up, you gain the ability to access different core characters like Duke, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow or Destro, each with their respective abilities. Scarlet could use her multipurpose crossbow to reach hard-to-access areas while Zartan could utilize his disguise prowess to have enhanced camouflage or even appear as a member of the Joe team itself. This would provide for a unique way of using the successful perk system from Call of Duty and. The possibilities are near endless.
The G.I. Joe experience is a solid franchise that is just waiting for a solid video game experience. I am certain that fans will love to see this classic franchise revived.
Chances of this happening
Slim. Many X factors contribute to this rating, the most predominant one being the extent to which the G.I. Joe license remains in EA’s hands. While EA produced last year’s abysmal title, it wasn’t clear in any of the press releases whether the license granted by Hasbro was for just that particular title or if it was for a certain amount of time. Given that another G.I. Joe film is in production right now, there’s no doubt in my mind that a game is being developed but the chances are that EA will botch it, again.