Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil and the remake/reboot conundrum
By Chris O'Neal 04/21/2011
for Xbox 360/PS3: $59.99
Operation Raccoon City
for Xbox 360/PS3: $59.99
When is a remake not a remake? How is a raven like a writing desk? Both question unanswerable codes cracked only by top men. Top men. Remakes are to games what they are to movies: a bottomless well from which developers and directors can pick and plunder. When creativity has got you down, grab a reboot! At this very moment, creatures smarter than we are plotting to unleash a slew of remakes. Are you bad enough to resist them? Of course not.
When Resident Evil got its remake/reboot with a re-release for the Nintendo Gamecube, not a skeptical soul moved to defend it. The series, having reached a point in its life cycle that some would say merits a retirement, needed a boost, and so the remake was given the go-ahead and the world is a better place for it. But was it a remake or a reboot? For the Gamecube, it was a remake. For the next in the several thousand iterations of Resident Evil offshoots, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, it’s a reboot, in a way.
In Operation Raccoon City, developed by Slant Six, best known for its work on the SOCOM series, the famous street setting for Resident Evil 2 is rehashed, this time in order to give the bad guys an opportunity to maim the undead.
The Umbrella Corporation, an entity that began as a parable for corporations run amok and transformed into the face of evil capitalism, has sent a scant team of experts into the city in search of the protagonist of the second installment, Leon Kennedy (whom you’ll also recognize as the lead in Resident Evil 4).
Following the guidelines laid out by prior zombie cooperatives (Left 4 Dead, for instance), players will be able to choose from four characters — Vector, Spectre, Bertha and Beltway. If you’re guessing that these four represent stealth, spy, medic and heavy constructs, bingo! Nothing new under the sun in co-op games, is there? Will this spin-off reboot the series and perhaps help steer it clear of another day-time rom-com of a sequel, or will the series continue to delve into the far reaches of mediocrity?
Speaking of mediocrity, Mortal Kombat. That is a complete sentence. No one thinks that anything Mortal Kombat-related released in the past decade is worth playing, except maybe for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, if only for the laughs. There is no better contestant to win the reboot competition than Ed Boon’s lovechild in Mortal Kombat, and reboot it is: new fighting styles, new mechanics, and the same characters restored to their former glory.
In the no-frills titled Mortal Kombat (that’s how you know it’s a reboot, there are no numbers or subtitles) players are once again put to task to become king or queen of the tournament. Classic heroes have returned — Liu Kang, Scorpion, Jonny Cage, SonyatBlade — with new, more grotesque finishing moves to wreak havoc, this time in HD!
Players will be able to see the damage they’ve inflicted on enemies with the new X-ray attacks that show the brutality that punching someone in the face with a hammer can produce. Your opponent is made translucent for a short period, during which time bones are seen shattering and internal damage runs rampant. Funny enough, they pop back up and continue fighting as if their pelvis were still intact. (It is not.)
Will the Mortal Kombat reboot make it relevant again? Could the new Resident Evil spinoffs remake the franchise into something more playable? If there is good still left in the world, the dead will rise again.
Chris O’Neal is a writer living in and around Vault 101, trying to keep raiders at a distance with a baton in one hand and a Nuka-Cola in the other. Follow him on Twitter @AgentONeal.