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How do you feel about major character or setting changes in game series?

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In another thread, we have been talking about people who think BioShock Infinite is “not a real BioShock game.” @The Blackangel pointed out that when a protagonist changes in a game series, that is one thing which can prompt this kind of criticism from folks, i.e. the switch from playing Richter Belmont to Alucard in Castlevania SOTN.

In the case of BioShock, you play a different protagonist in all three games, not just Infinite. But there is a major setting change from Rapture to Columbia in Infinite, so that probably is one of the reasons why some players were not totally onboard with it.

I am so used to playing games way after they come out that to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever found myself in a situation where long expectations were suddenly disrupted in this way. I don’t think I would likely be upset about it if the game that came out of it was good, but I can see why in some situations it could be upsetting to folks.

I think what would be most likely to upset me regarding abrupt change in a series would be a format change … but even then, I might not be upset if the new format was well-executed.

Have you ever been upset when the characters, setting, format, or another major aspect of a game series abruptly changed with a new installment?


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Zelda always bugged the hell out of me with this. For example in the original it’s an untamed wilderness with no order of any kind. Then in Zelda 2, there are towns all over the map, and you no longer have items you can use, but spells instead. And all dungeons look identical. Then on SNES, the towns have disappeared and the only one in Hyrule is Kakariko, which never existed previously. On N64 they mix it up even more with the introduction of new races, and a complete 180 on others (Zoras no longer attack). After 7 main consoles Zelda has gotten wildly different in every single game. I would like just once to see a true sequel. And I’m not including portable systems in this like GameBoy or DS, with the exception of the Switch.

This seriously drives me nuts. It’s like approaching a game you have never heard of each time.


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I don't mind actual changes of scenery or introduction of new characters.

What I take issue with is when the character or setting gets a makeover. IE. They are supposed to be the same people or place but look or act nothing like they did in the previous game.  Of course reboots are exempt from this as the purpose of a reboot is exactly that. So I have no problem with games like Tomb Raider (2013).

An example where the character changes is Max Payne. They modelled the protagonist on one of the developers for the first game, but in the second one they used an actor who looks nothing like the guy in the first game. It makes zero sense. It bugged me to no end.

And Max Payne is also a good example for when they change the nature of the character. As for Max Payne3 they changed Max Payne's personality completely, if it wasn't called Max Payne it would be impossible to tell that the game is supposed to be  sequel to the other two.

Another bad makeover I disliked was Anna Grimsdottir in Splinter Cell series. She was an analyst sitting behind a desk for the first 4 games, then suddenly they turned her into a highly trained field agent for the fifth game, completely changing her look too. Made no sense. She even went from having light brown or blonde hair to a redhead.

For a makover of a setting a "good" example is DeusEx Human Revolution, that is supposed to be a prequel to the original DeusEx, yet the world it presents seems much more futuristic, DeusEx was set in an alternate dystopian near future for 2000. Yet Human Revolution feels like it is set in the far future even from now, let alone for 2000. By the looks it is set in the same time period as Cyberpunk 2077, yet we are supposed to believe events in the game take place many years before the original DeusEx.

Edited by m76
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Honestly, I think time is a big factor as well. I'm reminded of back in 2001(?) when Metal Gear Solid 2 came out, and, surprise!, the protagonist was this guy called Raiden, and not Solid Snake. From what I remember, people practically had a meltdown over it. Particularly because Raiden was such a wuss in that game lol. But after a good number of years and a few more installments in the series, Raiden eventually became a series staple, and actually kind of a badass to boot. Now it's hard to imagine the series without him in it. I seem to remember a similar fan reaction to a certain big plot twist at the end of MGSV. 

I think it's hard to tell, when some big dramatic change happens in a series, how that change is going to impact the series as a whole. Is it going to be the franchise's next big new thing? Or is it going to disappear when the next game comes out, as if it never happened? And that sort of perspective only really comes with time.

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