Franchise Killers: Four Fraudulent Sequels

Franchise Killers: Four Fraudulent Sequels


We all know games need to make money. One of the latest methods that the industry has clung to is releasing a truckload of sequels. But it seems that this process is not without sacrifice.

E3 2011 has undoubtedly proven that the gaming industry is heading for a very strong year in the majority. With such excitement and hype being thrown at you by journalists, developers, publishers and marketers alike, it’s almost impossible to not be caught in a storm of blind hype. It may not be too uncommon then, to find that any sense of cynicism or negativity has been beaten out of you and replaced with the kind of impure optimism that is only ever conceived after an event like E3. However, as the dust settles and the Los Angeles power consumption drops by 40%, doubts start to creep in. Apart from a few new IPs, such as Overstrike, the majority of releases are part of an established franchise. Not all of these games are straight-up sequels and prequels either. Now you have spin-offs, free-to-play games, reboots and Facebook games to contend with too.

This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing; many franchises are engaging and exciting to play, and will have people genuinely excited that they can delve into the lure of that series even further. However, with the sheer quantity of franchises gaining new titles in the coming 12 months, there were bound to be some that are virtually unrecognisable to the games that preceded them. Bring forth the suspects for interrogation.

Brothers in Arms: Furious 4

Franchise Killers: Four Fraudulent Sequels

With games often seen by the misled right-wing media as nothing more than portraying mindless violence, it is important for our industry to be able to stand tall and show off the full emotional capabilities of video games. Several games have attempted this, such as Heavy Rain and LA Noire, but there are other game series’ that have challenged gamers emotionally on a more basic, skill-based level. Gearbox Software’s Brothers in Arms series was one of these. At mere face value, the series was just another shooter set in World War Two. However, once you got into it, you realised that the title was not just a homage to the HBO series Band of Brothers, but it also presented war in a gritty and realistic fashion that the likes of Call of Duty and Medal of Honor had abandoned in favour of a romanticised version of events.

The bond I felt to Matt Baker and the men of the 101st Airborne Division was something I do not think I had ever experienced in a game before, or since. The ‘Original Trilogy’ of Road To Hill 30, Earned in Blood and Hell’s Highway combined fantastic voice work, engaging gameplay and authenticity with an emotional story. The subject matter was treated with the reverence and maturity that you would expect from movies such as Saving Private Ryan. When it was announced that the series would be receiving a fourth title to be announced at E3, I was overjoyed with the thought of a shooter that would once again make me cry. Well, the announcement itself did make me cry, but not in the way I was hoping for.

Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 is the fourth title in the series, and it honestly does not deserve to wear the prefix. The game might be incredibly fun as it would seem from the trailer; boasting 4 player co-op and comic violence, but the game is more Inglorious Basterds than Saving Private Ryan. Brothers in Arms stood alone in a world where mindless shooters were king, and now it too has followed the crowd, eschewing historical accuracy and authenticity for over-the top violence and mindless action. This game is a perfect metaphor for how the Jack Thompsons of the world perceive gamers. Now, instead of being a gritty realistic portrayal of the true events of World War Two, the Brothers in Arms franchise is content to go off the rails and start using tasers on Nazi’s private parts.