What Could Microsoft’s Mystery Sequel Be? And What Should It Be?
In the ongoing grind of Microsoft’s attempt to purchase Activision Blizzard, one of the consolations are the little scraps of information that wriggle loose from legal documents. This week, in one such slippage, we got this nugget: “For instance, according to one Microsoft executive, [redacted], a forthcoming title from the [redacted] franchise, may take a decade to develop.” Naturally, one wonders what lurks in those redacted spots, and why on earth the game in question may take a decade. It could be something obvious, such as The Elder Scrolls VI, or the next instalment of Gears of War, in which the Locust abandon their tactic of bursting from the ground and instead decide to sue the Coalition of Ordered Governments – evidently a more effective strategy, if you wish to stymie your opponents’ progress.
Then we have Perfect Dark, on which Crystal Dynamics and The Initiative are both tinkering away. But that is a known quantity, and surely not worth redacting – though its heroine, Joanna Dark, who is up to her chin in the murk of corporate espionage, may appreciate the gesture. Of course, there is Halo. There is always Halo. We know that 343 Industries has positioned Halo Infinite as “the start of the next ten years for Halo.” (That’s about as long as infinity gets, in game development.) Perhaps, once that decade is done, Master Chief, like Buzz Lightyear before him, will go beyond the infinite in search of self-possession. Beyond the obvious, however, there are other possibilities.
Xbox has a number of franchises – the Conker games, for example – which have gathered up their nuts and gone into hibernation. Is it too much to ask that one of these be woken up, thawed out, and given a second spring? Of Microsoft’s dormant franchises, topping my personal wish list is Project Gotham Racing. Beginning on the Dreamcast, as Metropolis Street Racer, this series graduated onto the Xbox and thence to the Xbox 360. The last entry, Project Gotham Racing 4, came out in 2007, leaving many of us eager to breathe its particular fumes. It was beloved for its arcade gameplay – long, smeary power slides and well-smoked rubber – and its Kudos points system, which rewarded daring feats, like overtakes and two-wheel drives. I also miss its urban focus; years of Forza Horizon have left our wheel arches a little too caked in rural muck. Plus, the relentless cheer of those clipboard-clutching festival reps has started to rub me the wrong way.
Then there are the obscurities, games like Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Jade Empire. The former, set in a surreal alternate version of the 1930s, had you piloting warplanes through patches of hostile sky. (It’s currently available on Xbox Game Pass, and who knows? Maybe a dramatic take-off in player numbers has prompted Microsoft into a revival.) The latter was a BioWare action-RPG, focussed on martial arts, which filtered the usual BioWare trappings through a far-eastern setting. It let you make moral alignments – either “Open Palm” or “Closed Fist” – depending on your temperament. And it has a loyal following, who would eagerly snap up another helping. However, consisting solely of one game, you would hardly call Jade Empire a franchise, and why the hell would it take a decade to pull off? Likewise Crimson Skies, unless Microsoft is intent on using Bing cloud data to render the entire planet in unreal time.
I’m sure that there are those whose nights are spent in deep yearning for a new entry in the Blinx series, though I’ve never met any. May I also enter a brief plea in favour of Ninja Gaiden? The series, which started in the arcade in the late 1980s, found a spiritual home on the Xbox in 2004. That game, Ninja Gaiden, and its sequels (of which the standout has to be Black, a retailored version of the same adventure, with some choice improvements) were marvels. Slick and sick, they blended style and difficulty with deep pools of blood. The begetter of Ninja Gaiden was Tomonobu Itagaki, who has been somewhat absent of late; his last credit was on Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, for which he served as “supreme advisor.” He is reportedly involved in an NFT-based project, called Warrior, so it could well be that those at Microsoft have factored a ten-year wait into the equation, while he finishes that, before they seek his supreme advice.
Whichever franchises Microsoft ends up opening its palms or closing its fists to, the notion that such a return may be a decade in the making is more than a little daunting. Looking at this stream of old Xbox games is a sobering and saddening thing. The intriguing titles that comprised the libraries of the Xbox and the Xbox 360 appear to have dwindled in favour of hulking mega-projects – games like Halo Infinite, which are supposed to tide us over for ten years at a time. What Xbox needs now isn’t just for one of these franchises to return; it needs a slew of them. It needs smaller games, surprising games, games on which you look back fondly, rather than look forward to for the next decade.
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 10:32 AM
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 12:22 PM
Here’s just 3 that I always wished would get remade.
1. Fuzion Frenzy 1 and 2 possibly even a brand new one
2. NFL Fever - This game was wayyyy better than any Madden ever made, also it would give EA a reason to actually give a shit about improving their games cause they would have competition.
3. PGR - if done properly they could take away a lot from the Forza franchise which essentially is the staple for any racing game.
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 02:20 PM
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 02:32 PM
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 05:48 PM
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 10:52 PM
Saturday, April 22, 2023 @ 11:56 PM
Downloaded Insignia and soft modded my original Xbox so I could play multiplayer Crimson Skies again. So much fun.
Sunday, April 23, 2023 @ 12:46 AM
Sunday, April 23, 2023 @ 03:24 AM
2. Crackdown 4
3. Crimson Skies 2
4. MechAssault 3
Sunday, April 23, 2023 @ 03:56 AM
5. 1 vs. 100, 2.0
Sunday, April 23, 2023 @ 12:34 PM
Fallout 5 or Elder Scrolls 6 make sense.
Possibly an Activision property?
Sunday, April 23, 2023 @ 12:52 PM
Sunday, April 23, 2023 @ 10:13 PM