Reboot Rebuttal

by Israel Espinoza

This year has been an interesting experiment in gaming reboots.  First there was the Devil May Cry series reboot, DmC: Devil May Cry (what a stupidly redundant title) and just this week Tomb Raider (what, not TR: Tomb Raider?).  These reboots have taken vastly different approaches to their respective originals.  DmC, whining from the fanbase aside, played very similarly to the original games.  Its look may be a significant divergence but the feel–after a brief break-in period to get used to more technical changes–was quite familiar.   In contrast there is Tomb Raider which eschewed the more balls-out action and exploration oriented tone of the original series for a grittier “survivalist” style of play.  Lara is no longer busting through inexplicably still working thousand year old puzzles in ancient ruins (in fact, she now quips that she hates tombs) and gunning down dinosaurs.  Now, she squeamishly kills a deer and then, an hour later, moves on to mowing down dozens of men.  Oh, and you have to live in constant fear of her getting raped.

The developers of both Tomb Raider and DmC have defended their choices in varying ways.  Either by disingenuously claiming they “don’t want to alienate fans” (then why make the game completely unlike the previous entries?) or mocking people for liking the original (then completely betraying any integrity by offering DLC of exactly what fans want.)  Which raises a question I’ve asked in the past: what’s the value of a name?  I’ve seen the producers of the still in production Highlander reboot insisting it was unfair for people to be prejudiced against his movie based on the horrendous Highlander sequels.  If you don’t want to be saddled with the legacy of a property then don’t become a part of it in the first place!  If you want to make something completely unlike any other Tomb Raider game, and insist it’s okay because it’s an “origin” story (that completely conflicts with the stated origin) then you need to reconsider your whole design philosophy.  Don’t tell the potential audience not to have any expectations when an established series get a new addition, reboot or not.  And if there’s a response from the fan base, which you’re necessarily trying to get access to by using the established property, don’t dismiss it as a meaningless, baseless knee-jerk reaction.  Otherwise, you may need to rethink your sales expectations

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