Tied In: Taking Great Properties and Giving Them the Games They Deserve

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Licensed properties in video games have seen a recent upturn in quality, with licensed games being released much less frequently and games like Batman: Arkham City and the Telltale Games series The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us not only doing justice to their brand but getting critical acclaim as well. Even still, there are beloved licenses that have still gotten the short end of the stick for far too long. Despite their unfortunate track record, all of the following properties have the potential to be great games, if in the right way.

Jurassic Park

What it is:

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Jurassic Park: The Game (Telltale Games 2011-2012)

Despite their recent accomplishments, not everything Telltale touches is gold, and Jurassic Park: The Game is proof of that. With gameplay reminiscent of Heavy Rain but with even less control, the game was widely panned for its boring  gameplay and uninteresting story. It made the player feel like an actor performing their role as opposed to an active participant in the unfolding events. With a license just begging for people to explore and survive on a dinosaur infested island, Jurassic Park deserves a game that can deliver an experience like that.

What it Could be:

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The Last of Us (Naughty Dog 2013)

I loved Naughty Dog’s most recent work The Last of Us, and I can’t imagine a better set of gameplay mechanics to introduce into a Jurassic Park game to have the player feel real tension and fear in fighting the vicious dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. Give the player limited ammo for guns and have them scrounging for materials for improvised supplies that need to be crated in real time, them have them locked in a lab with velociraptors trying to hunt you down as they desperately try to avoid conflict and escape.

Doctor Who

What it is:

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Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock (Supermassive Games 2012)

Doctor Who is admittedly a hard property to make into a good game, as the Doctor’s exploits, while exciting and full of action, aren’t full of traditional video game fare. While he’s done more than his fair share, the Doctor generally isn’t fond of killing, and instead prefers to think his way out of situations. As well as run. There tends to be a lot of running involved. While these traits don’t make Doctor Who the easiest franchise to make into a video game, turing it into a 2D puzzle platformer is not the first path I’d take it to-or the second-but that’s what we got with Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock. It’s not its fault for trying, but traditional game mechanics just don’t fit the Doctor’s style all that well.

What it Could be:

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The Wolf Among Us (Telltale Games 2013-Ongoing)

What does, however, is the system Telltale has developed with The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us. Being able to play an episodic series as the famous Time Lord traveling to different planets and time periods, conversing with aliens and historical figures, and running from and outsmarting enemies of the Doctor like Cybermen and Daleks would be a dream come true.

Firefly

What it is:

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Firefly Online (QMXi Summer 2014)

Currently, there are plans for an official FOX-licensed Firefly MMO for computer and mobile platforms where you pilot your own ship aroud the ‘Verse, taking jobs and dealing with the likes of the Alliance and the feared Reavers. You will play online with other captains and be able to make jobs for other people to complete. Reservations on quality aside, the main concept of making as intimate a property as Firefly into an MMO feels like its missing what made the short lived show so special in the first place.

What it Could be:

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Mass Effect 3 (Bioware 2012)

The biggest problem I see with the MMO is that it’s focusing on the wrong scale, going big instead of focusing small. Sure, the ‘Verse was a cool future space Wild West, but the reason people became attached with the show and still desperately plead for its return isn’t the universe of the show, but the incredibly likable and interesting cast of characters we saw inhabiting it. The heart of the show was the diverse crew of the Serenity, Captain Malcom Reynolds, Wash, the pilot and husband of Mal’s old war buddy Zoey, Jayne Kobb, the mercenary,  Inara Sera, registered companion, Kaylee, the ship’s mechanic, Shepard Booke, a priest with a mysterious past, and fugitive siblings Simon and River Tam . They were the reason people fell for the show so hard, and without them, or at least as strong a cast as them,  I feel a game under the Firefly banner would ring hollow. A Firefly game should be more like a Mass Effect game, with you playing Captain Malcolm Reynolds on a fully interior modeled Serenity, where you can go around and interact with the crew and get jobs to get the credits you need to keep flying.

Aliens

What it is:

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Aliens: Colonial Marines (Gearbox Interactive 2013)

Enough has been said about the terribleness that was Aliens: Colonial Marines that I don’t feel the need to pile on even more hate onto a pile already so high, so I’ll keep it brief. The game turned one of the most iconic and terrifying creatures in cinema into mindless cannon fodder and the thing seen above. Alien deserved better.

What it Could be:

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Alien: Isolation (TBA 2014)

I don’t even have to be creative for this one, as there’s already been another game announced that looks infinitely more promising, if the sting of Colonial Marines still keeping a wise amount of trepidation for it. Alien: Isolation is looking to make the Alien back into the perfectly terrifying killing machine it is known to be by paying homage to the horror-focused original movie as opposed to its more action heavy sequel. There’s only one alien to deal with in this game, and no mean of which to do so, just the ominous ping of the motion tracker keeping you aware of its location when using it and a flashlight. While it’s hard to look at a game in this property with legitimate enthusiasm after recent events, this concept gives me more hope than many others would have.

Predator

What it is:

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Predator: Concrete Jungle (Eurocom 2005)

The Predator license has not been nearly as prolific in its games as its brother in the Aliens license, but even then, the games turned out to be equally unfortunate. Take Predator: Concrete Jungle for the Xbox and PS2, which put you in the shoes of a Predator who messes everything up before you even touch the controller by leaving predator technology in human hands and leading to the advanced technological future Earth the game takes place in. It’s an intriguing idea for the predator to go up against people with the same tools as him like cloaking, but at the same time it takes away the feel of being the apex predator and master hunter that the predator is portrayed as in the movies. The game’s clunky control scheme also lead to some distinctly un-predator-like encounters, with most being in direct combo based combat.

What it Could be:

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Batman: Arkham Asylum (Rocksteady Studios 2009)

For a single player focused experience, the gameplay elements of the Batman Arkham series are practically made for an amazing Predator game, right down to the detective/predator vision. Put the player in control of a Predator in a dense jungle and have them hunt down and take as trophies Earth’s most dangerous killers from military special ops to hardcore criminals with all of his tools of trade and you have a game that would do the license proud.

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Evolve (Turtle Rock Studios TBD 2014)

For multiplayer, however, Turtle Rock Studios’ recently announced game Evolved looks to be pretty much that with an asymetric 4 versus 1 dynamic of soldiers versus monster with a lot of powers, and with the studio mad up of the creators of Left 4 Dead, it’s looking to be the best Predator game we’ll see for the foreseeable future.

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