Over the past few years we have seen some classic shooters revived as modern day first person shooters. Games like Duke Nukem, Doom and Wolfenstein were all fantastic games when they were first released. It comes as a surprise to most people when a modern re-imagination of a classic shooter fails miserably to recapture the success of the past. The question we all ask is why?
How could a game possibly flop, when it is based on one of the most popular games of all time. A team of talented developers have worked very hard to create an awesome game that stays as true as possible to the original, but also combining all of the great things that modern shooters have. On paper sounds like a recipe for success, but as well know this is never the case. I enjoyed the latest entry in the Wolfenstein series and I also enjoyed the crude humor and design from Duke Nukem Forever, so I’m not speaking out of anger when I say that developers keep remaking classic shooters wrong!
Creating a modern re-imagination of a game like Duke Nukem is like creating a side scrolling shooter. It will probably be a fun game, but it is never going to recapture the original. A first person shooter from the 1990s and a modern FPS are like two completely different genres. Modern games are hyper detailed and physics govern almost everything. Stores need to make some sort of sense and the level design and progression also needs to fit. None of this stuff really mattered back in the 90s.
It’s a common misconception that the story or characters were everything that made those games popular, but this is not the case. It is not possible to dissect a classic game, take out all elements from the game universe and rebuild the game on a modern engine. The pixilated visuals, senseless story, linear level design and a lack of physics are as much a part of the games success as anything else. This is why a re-imagination is never going to work. If a new entry in a classic game series is ever going to properly work it needs to be a continuation not a re-imagination.
Most gamers are starting to accept that visuals don’t count for everything when it comes to a game. Minecraft is made up of square blocks and low res textures, yet it has become one of the most popular games the game industry has ever seen. Creating a new Duke Nukem or Wolfenstein game shouldn’t be about bringing an old game into the modern world, we have enough modern games that were inspired by the classics. What these games need is to be continued. Keep the same visual style, keep the nonsensical story and level design. No one is going to care that a shotgun can be fired 75 times without needing to be reloaded. This is what we loved about these games.
A modern gaming system has an almost infinite amount of power compared to the machines used by developers to make games in the 90s. They likely had to remove some frames from animations, remove some features or remove enemy counts due to a lack of processing power. Without the bleeding edge visuals hogging all the system resources, the system will have enough free resources to do almost anything with the game. I for one would much rather a game that looked and felt like classic Duke Nukem, but had a new story and setting rather than a shiny new shooter that fails recapture the classic and fails to provide anything innovative.