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Ultima Online Column: Top 5 MMOs That Need Remakes

By Dana Massey on October 06, 2009

The ideas were there, but it just didn’t come together. Truth is, though, that I think enough time has passed that hardcore fans would welcome a new take on it, and casual observers would have the brand recognition, without the knee jerk dismissal that might have come a few years ago.

Some Ideas To Make The Remake Shine
This is the one entry on the list where I may be getting away from the spirit of the core game, but a truly complete terrestrial science-fiction MMO would be awesome and Anarchy Online seems the best candidate for it.

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I’d love to see them make a well rounded game that goes beyond just different ways to kill Aliens and Robots. More exploration of the game’s politics and story through the rivalry between Omni-Tek and The Clans definitely seems like a good idea.

This is the one entry where they just need to do what they did in the first game and then do it… better.

Bottom Line
It’d be a terrestrial science fiction MMO with some imaginative classes, a complex character development system and a fantastic back story.

#3 – City of Heroes

Launched in 2004, City of Heroes is the most recently launched game on today’s List, but I dare say the time has come and it better come soon before it’s too late.

EverQuest has shown that being first and developed specifically for the genre can provide more lasting appeal than a fancy-schmancy license. Sure, it’s a competitive market out there. Cryptic – the people who created City of Heroes – just launched Champions Online, SOE is hard at work on DC Universe Online, and Gazillon has brought in some big guns to develop Marvel Online. Does that mean NCsoft should just roll over and be pecked to death by these big fish? Hell no!

Why It Was Awesome
City of Heroes pioneered modern character creation. The folks at Cryptic are the reason everyone gets to adjust the size of their eyebrows. I once heard a stat on the average number of characters created on each City of Heroes account, and while I cannot remember it exactly well enough to quote it here, suffice it to say that it’s absurdly high.

City of Heroes was the digital Barbie Dolls for boys of the 21st century, but that wasn’t all it had going for it. They straddled the line between iconic feeling heroes and the fact that all the real superheroes legally were not allowed in the sandbox. I am still dubious about the effect of the “real heroes” on the big licensed games. I don’t care what SOE tells me or how well they integrated Superman into the missions. He’s cooler than any hero I create and always will be.

That’s the beauty of City of Heroes. There are iconic people in the lore, but honestly, does anyone actually care any more about Statesman than they do their own character?

City of Heroes was also the first console-friendly MMO. I am well aware it never appeared on the console, but just look at the UI. These guys played their XBOXs. It’s light, it’s breezy and it makes people feel like they really can save themselves some damsels in distress.

Why The Old Game Isn’t Good Enough Anymore
Quite frankly, if NCsoft’s Paragon Studios is not already developing City of Heroes 2 (or a remake) they’re wasting their time. History has shown that as games age, they eventually hit a point of no return. City of Heroes is old enough now – five and a half years to be exact – to still have a good strong community, but just ask Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot what happens as you start to approach your seventh and eight birthdays.

It takes years to develop these things, but by the time any City of Heroes remake could be ready – think 2011/12 – the original game would be ready for a replacement. Don’t fret cannibals. It’ll be time to let go and leave CoH running from a rack in a storage closet for those too stubborn, too nostalgic or too poor to buy a new PC.

Some Ideas To Make The Remake Shine
So, what can Paragon Studios do to make a remake worth everyone’s time? Well, the biggest drawback of the original game is that sometimes it just didn’t feel all that heroic. Procedural content was a clever idea and well executed in this game, but I am not sure it’s the right match with a game that relies so heavily on you literally being a hero.

It’s time for someone to really amp it up. Champions Online lets you travel like a hero from the start, and DC is going to capture the action game feeling. The question is, who is going to let me throw bad guys through walls? Mayhem Missions started this trend in City of Villains, and DC is giving the physics a try too, but no one has quite achieved the fully destructible environment yet. Maybe Paragon Studios can?

And, really, what’s the difference between fantasy and superhero fiction? In fantasy, they get a quest and go on it. In superhero fiction, stuff goes wrong and the hero reacts. Fast. A virtual city where the quests come to you would be a wonderful change of pace.

...and how has no one really tackled secret identities yet? There’s plenty of gold in this genre yet to be mined.

Bottom Line
It’d be a superhero MMO without heroes and villains to outshine you. It’d be a world where you can run through a wall, or catch a bus as it flies off an overpass and usher the passengers to safety. And to do this while leading a double life? Epic.

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