Friday, 15 July 2016

5 Great Video Game Franchises (Part 1)

There are many games that have been made with a high level of quality involving each and every aspect of them which has led to these games being considered part of the greats. Games like Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, Eternal Sonata and The Last of Us are some examples of this. However, There are some games that spawn sequels and are made into a trilogy or even a series spanning multiple titles over multiple generations of consoles. 

Sadly, many franchises have become increasingly worse over time due to bad corporate decisions like changing the game's core elements and shortening development time in order to keep up with the latest trends in favour of a larger profit margin. This type of behaviour by developers is becoming increasingly common in recent times, but that's a topic for another day.

Now, this list will contain 5 video game franchises which have at least 2 games and stay true to their original themes and are considered to be great by fans of their respective genres. The franchises listed will also be in no particular order. Obviously, there are more than just 5 great franchises but to fit them all into one article is frankly beyond my capabilities. So, here are the first 5!

1. The "Souls" Series

The Souls games are very well known for being very difficult and even maddening at times. They're also very well loved by fans for being so difficult. Fans have grown to embrace the challenge they bring and respect the games as true works of art. Although the Dark Souls series has been very successful with 3 installments currently released on 2 generations of consoles, the first entry in the Souls series wasn't Dark Souls. In fact, it was Demon's Souls, a PlayStation 3 exclusive released back in 2009. The series is developed by From Software, a Japanese developer known for games such as Armored Core, Enchanted Arms and Tenchu. 

The latest installment in the series, Dark Souls 3 has become incredibly popular among let's-players on YouTube and Twitch due to the potential for comedy when new players first experience it's crushing difficulty. Most games nowadays aren't very difficult and often start with a tutorial level to get players used to the in-game mechanics before supplying any real challenge but Souls doesn't do this. Instead, it throws the player straight into a monster infested dungeon in which the player is forced to learn the skills of proper combat or die.

2. Mass Effect

This is a series which is very highly regarded by its fans. It's an adventure in space after all! The game's story revolves around Commander Sheppard's journey and his efforts to save the galaxy from a threat in the form of mechanical beings called Reapers. The game is essentially a third person shooter role-playing game set in a galaxy in the midst of war which already sounds very interesting. It get's even better with the addition of dialogue choices. When speaking with an NPC, the player can choose from a few different dialogue options in order to steer the conversation in one way or another. depending on the choices the player makes, the resulting cutscene will be different. The choices can also affect the overall story.

Due to the various choices affecting the course of the story, this game has very high replay value. Many choose to start playing the game again right after finishing it the first time just to try out different dialogue options. Since the majority of players choose to do the right thing and act like a well mannered hero during their first playthrough, it makes sense to go through it again as a fully fledged douchebag.

3. Resistance

One of Sony's exclusive franchises developed by Insomniac, Resistance puts players in the brutal and harsh environment of war between humans and an alien race known as the Chimera. The story of the game centers on humanity's descend into extinction in a losing war against the other worldly foe. The environments become drearier and the game adopts a more somber atmosphere as the games progress. While Resistance 1 focused on large scale military operations, by the time Resistance 3 comes along, the fights against the Chimera are much more intimate while also being much larger in scale. 

All three games in the franchise have been very well developed. The character and environment designs are very appropriate to the darker theme of the game, quite a departure from the cutesy characters Insomniac are known for. The character AI is also impressive. All enemies and allies move and react as you would expect them to in a real situation. This means that the enemies can be brutally tough at times but never unfair. It's also astounding to see so many enemies and allies on screen with elaborate environmental effects without any framerate issues. It's quite clear that Insomniac have put a lot of care into this game's development. 

Aside from the single player campaign, this franchise had an amazing  multiplayer mode as well. While the usual multiplayer modes such as team deathmatch and capture-the-flag are present, Resistance also uses the multiplayer mode to fill out the story even more by allowing players to experience the war from a different perspective with a few friends.  Sadly, the servers have been shut down so any hope we have of ever experiencing it again is if Sony decide to release a remastered trilogy.

4. Pokemon

Where do I even start with Pokemon? Pokemon games have been around forever and are still well loved to this day. The franchise started with the realease of Pokemon Red and Green in Japan back in 1996 on the original GameBoy and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Now, 20 years later, Pokemon games are still thriving and has reached it's 6th generation of Pokemon with Pokemon X and Y. The franchise will soon be receiving a new installment which will start the 7th generation in the form of Pokemon Sun and Moon. 

Pokemon games have evolved and have adopted many new modern mechanics along side updated visuals and character designs but the core elements that made the games so enjoyable so many years ago are still present. The main games' story always revolves around the player's journey as a Pokemon trainer. There are also many titles aside from the main games which add to the large amount of titles in the overall franchise. Currently, there are more than 50 titles in the franchise which span multiple generations of systems.

The games are also considered to be classics and are always in demand. Almost every game in the franchise is considered great by fans and are still sought after by players long after their initial releases. Even used copies of older games in the franchise still fetch a pretty penny today.  

5. Uncharted

"Sic parvis magna" - Greatness from small beginnings. It started as a unknown game back when everybody was playing Assassin's Creed, and now, this magnificent franchise has been recognized as one of the greats. The franchise currently has 4 main games and isn't likely to be expanded upon any time soon. Uncharted is a game which is heavily reliant on it's story and characters. Its story is undeniably epic and extremely interesting and so are the characters. The story follows Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter who is as skillful with a compass as he is with a machine gun. He constantly finds hidden dungeons, solves ancients puzzles and does extremely dangerous stunts only find find bad guys who need to be shot in the face. Overall, Nathan Drake's journey throughout the 4 games has been full of joy, sadness, peril and many surprises. 

In my opinion, these games don't need a multiplayer mode because the single player experience is already worth more than the game's asking price. However, they do include a multiplayer mode and it's actually really good. The latest installment in the series, Uncharted 4, provides a very interesting multiplater experience which includes some of the mechanics from the single player story like a rope which allows the player to swing over the enemy, drop down and punch them in the side of the head! The franchise's developer, Naughty Dog, has also been updating the game since it's release, providing new additions on top of the original content for free!

Uncharted is probably one of the best Sony exclusive franchises ever made. They are truly works of art and should be experienced at least once. If you have a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 and haven't tried Uncharted for whatever reason, I invite you to do yourself a favour and just play them. A piece of advice, start from the first one and play them in order. Don't just skip ahead to the latest one because it has really nice graphics. To properly enjoy Uncharted as a whole, you'll need to play them from start to finish and get to know each character, only then will the overall experience be breathtakingly amazing.

If you haven't tried playing any one of the games in these franchises, please do. They are worth your time. We sometimes become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of new games being released, but it there's no reason not to take a step back to enjoy the amazing games already available to us. I'll add 5 more to the list next week!

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1 comment:

  1. I love Uncharted. I am currently playing through the third one on the PS4 collection. I have completed the first one 3 times as I am trophy hunting. I love the historical references in each game that have lead to me looking into the stories outside of the games.