Video game characters in need of a reboot

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

It worked for Batman, Bond and the crew the U.S.S. Enterprise. So why not Lara Croft and pals, too?

Reboots have become Hollywood's way of not having to think too hard, and this laziness has paid off in a big way, from the monstrous success of the Batman reboot trilogy to J. J. Abrams reinventing Star Trek to Daniel Craig's back-to-basics James Bond, which earned 007's biggest payday ever with Skyfall's billion-dollar box office take.

Video games are a slightly different beast.

It takes a lot more effort to run a game series into the ground and wear out the audience's patience, because players don't just tolerate a certain amount of sameness from one entry in a franchise to the next, they expect it and often demand it.

Tomb Raider, the gritty, visually striking action-adventure game released last week, is a relative rarity.

Not just because retells the origin story of its beautiful and capable heroine, but because it's a reboot made for creative choices, rather than strictly financial ones.

And because it actually turned out really well. While she began her video game career as a pair of comically cone-shaped boobs stuck on a body that only vaguely resembled a woman, the pistol-packing Lara Croft of 2013 looks, sounds and acts human.

Reboots still seem like a creatively bankrupt way to hedge bets and protect budgets, and many of us would rather see exciting, original new stories than revisit familiar territory.

But if that's the way things are going, here are half a dozen other video game characters who could benefit from the Lara Croft treatment.

1. KRATOS

First appearance: God of War (2005)

Most recent appearance: God of War: Ascension (2013)

Over the course of six games, God of War's rage-fuelled Spartan warrior has fought (and in many cases, killed) so many notable characters and beasts from Greek mythology that we're starting to feel a bit exhausted. While gamers expect familiarity between entries in a franchise, God of War now feels formulaic to a fault. This series needs to be put to bed for five years or so, then brought back with a new take on old Kratos.

2. TUROK

First appearance: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (1997)Most recent appearance: Turok (2008)

Just as the cinematic Superman will undergo his second reboot in less than a decade with this year's Man of Steel, Turok is a character in need of a re-reboot. A video game about a guy who fights dinosaurs seems like a no-brainer, but that was exactly the problem when Disney-owned, Vancouver-based (and now defunct) Propaganda Games tried to resurrect Turok in 2008: the character was a mindless cliche. Imagine Far Cry 3 with dinosaurs and you've got some idea of just how spectacular a Turok game could -- and should -- be.

3. CRASH BANDICOOT

First appearance: Crash Bandicoot (1996)

Most recent appearance: Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 2 (2010)

Once upon a time, Crash Bandicoot was mentioned in the same breath as Mario and Sonic, superstars of the platform game genre. But other than some forgettable recent iPhone games, we haven't seen him in proper form since 2005. Part of that is due to the success Crash Bandicoot developer Naughty Dog has had with their Uncharted series, but an old-school reboot of Crash Bandicoot remains high on many gamers' wish lists. Even if he's not quite as good-looking as Lara Croft.

4. SOLID SNAKE

First appearance: Metal Gear (1987)

Most recent appearance: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

Fans of the Metal Gear series love the bizarre, byzantine storylines that have wound through three decades' worth of these games, most of which have starred special ops soldier Solid Snake. But just as Marvel and DC have hit the reset button on comic book series that have gone too far off the rails, it would be nice to see Snake go back to basics -- maybe right back to the beginning -- in a story that didn't require a thousand-page Wiki to follow.

5. CHRIS REDFIELD

First appearance: Resident Evil (1996)

Most recent appearance: Resident Evil 6 (2012)

His biceps seem to get bigger with each new game, but Chris Redfield somehow gets less interesting over time. Much of the blame rests on the Resident Evil series itself, which went from the pinnacle of tense horror in Resident Evil 4 to a run-and-gun action extravaganza with last year's disappointing Resident Evil 6. This is a series that desperately needs to return to its slow zombie-blasting roots.

6. SHODAN

First appearance: System Shock (1994)

Most recent appearance: System Shock 2 (1999)

Before there was GLaDOS, the murderous A.I. antagonist of Portal and Portal 2, there was SHODAN (Sentient Hyper-Optimized Data Access Network), the malicious machine who thwarted players in the brilliant System Shock games. The series has lain dormant for many years, and while the BioShock games (including this month's much-anticipated BioShock Infinite) are spiritual successors by some of the same creative talents, it would be incredible to see SHODAN in an updated retelling of the System Shock saga.

LATEST TOMB RAIDER A HIT

Lara Croft raids tombs for knowledge more than for the lure of treasure. But whether she planned it or not, she's stumbled into riches this time.

Tomb Raider, a reboot of the long-running video game franchise, sold more than a million copies worldwide in its first 48 hours on store shelves last week. At roughly $60 a pop, this translates into somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60 million in two days.


A screenshot from the latest 'Tomb Raider'

This makes Tomb Raider not only the fastest-selling game of the year at its time of release, but the fastest-selling installment in the franchise's 17-year history. It also holds the franchise's second-highest average score on review aggregate site Metacritic.com, behind only 1996's original Tomb Raider. It's been such a hit that Variety reports the game's developers are in talks with production company GK Films (Argo, the upcoming World War Z) for a cinematic Tomb Raider reboot based on the new game, which tells the origin story of a 21-year-old Lara Croft. The Hollywood reboot mentality seems to be seeping into games with greater frequency, with the long-running Japanese action series Devil May Cry getting a recent, well-received reboot in the form of DMC: Devil May Cry, morphing the demon-slayer Dante into a younger, cockier monster hunter with a decidedly more modern hairstyle.

And the upcoming made-in-Montreal game Thief will reboot the acclaimed 15-year-old video game series of the same name, bringing steampunk burglar Garrett back for a new generation of gamers and game consoles.


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