Dead Rising 4’s Frank West and Gaming’s Changing Heroes
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Dead Rising 4 is out soon and Frank is back. You remember Frank West, the zombie-smasher extraordinaire? He’s back with a brand-new voice and people, as they’re wont to, are peeved.
The people are so peeved that a petition (being the 2016 thing to do) has been set-up on change.org to bring back the original voice of Frank West, Terence J. Rotolo, accomplished movie stuntman and voice actor. As of writing, the petition has received 608 of the 1000 signatures needed. 608 people have signed their love for you Terence, you lucky man.
Fans of the Dead Rising franchise suspect that the developer, Capcom, have noticed the petition’s existence and have been removing messages tagged with: #FansRising or #RealFrankWest from their social media accounts.
If video game history has taught us anything, it is that people do not like it when you change or mess with their beloved franchises. It drives them nuts. As the adage goes, why fix what’s not broken?
It would make sense for Capcom to try and mitigate any social media backlash. This is not the first time a developer has altered the sound of their protagonist and look how people felt last time.
SNAKE? SNAKE? SNAKKKKKEEEEEEEE
To be honest, I played both the first and second Metal Gear Solid games and before he was replaced by Kiefer Sutherland in Metal Gear Solid V, I had no idea who David Hayter was. As it happens, I seemed to be in the minority as a lot of people know who he is.
In the run-up to Metal Gear Solid V, it was announced that Sutherland would be replacing Hayter as the gravelly voice of Big Boss. People were upset, feeling that such a departure from the franchise would lessen the quality of the overall game. Hayter had voiced Solid Snake/Big Boss since the original game in 1998 and was aging. Speaking in 2013, Hideo Kojima said before placing Sutherland in the role that, “someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late forties.”
What about just flat out changing the protagonist? Whilst the ending to Assassin’s Creed: Revelations made clear that Ezio, everyone’s favourite Italian videogame character (who isn’t a plumber) was finished, he came to define the Assassin’s Creed franchise after staring in Assassin’s Creed 2, Brotherhood and Revelations. People love Ezio. After all, he is a lad, isn’t he? Scaling your girlfriend’s wall, hoping through her window and making her reconsider why she ever chose you. Then, he escapes into the night, killing a bunch of guards before blending into the crowd whilst wearing a, frankly, conspicuous hooded outfit. We all know how Ezio rolls.
Following the emotional sign-off to Revelations, Ubisoft decided to usher in a new era of characters to take the narrative forward. Assassin’s Creed II introduced us to the Kenways. It started with Haytham: a classy British guy who travelled to colonial America, impregnated a native, and became a Templar Grand Master. That native then birthed Connor Kenway, the game’s true protagonist.
Fan backlash wasn’t as notable as Sutherland replacing Hayter in Metal Gear Solid 5 but people found the tonal shift of Connor’s character to be a bit odd. Rather than the charismatic and likable Ezio, Connor was stoic and serious, a po-faced man of few words. Connor didn’t sneak into anyone’s window for mischievous fun. Connor was most likely in bed at 8pm watching re-runs of Newsnight.
But at least we got to play Connor’s grandfather in the next game, who, just to point out, was a pirate. A swash-buckling, shanty singing, Templar shanking pirate. So, Ubisoft looked out for us in the end. Plus, if you want to revisit Ezio’s glory days, you can buy his trilogy in a remastered edition. Phwoar, what about those textures, eh?
Fallout 4: SAY MY NAME, CODSWORTH.
If it’s not changing the voice actor, it’s giving the character a voice. To be fair, I can reconcile some of the points people made here. Giving the player character in Fallout a voice detracts from the immersion. By giving the player character a voice, it takes you away from feeling like that character is you. Also, due to the nature of voice actors having to be recorded, the game featured considerably less dialogue options than previous games in the series.
The consensus of Fallout 4 is that it appeared to be too streamlined. Too many mechanics changed and simplified, perceived as ‘dumbing down’ and, for many, this no longer made the game an RPG, merely an RPG flavoured shooter. It is a departure from Fallout: New Vegas, arguably the deepest in terms of RPG mechanics out of the three console Fallout games, and a lot of people were upset with the direction Bethesda took with Fallout 4. However, they did bring us base-building, which was alright. So, if that’s your thing, I know a man named Preston Garvey, who knows of a settlement that needs your assistance.
Devil May Cry: Dante got a brand new ‘do
Except it was more than that, wasn’t it Capcom? Dante, the main character of the DMC series, was recognised by his white hair, naff jokes and being a bit of aloof at the best of times. His character and personality was befitting of a franchise that did not seek to take itself too seriously.
The 2013 reboot, developed by Ninja Theory, reimagined Dante with black hair and as a much more brash and arrogant chap. Whilst still retaining his sarcastic humour, he was no longer laidback but had a bit of an attitude to him. The initial reaction and subsequent backlash from fans and critics was harsh, mostly because he felt like one of those guys you just don’t like. The type of guy in your office whose Facebook profile picture is of his car and spends his Saturdays in Next, buying a load of work trousers.
Rebooting a series protagonist is always a risky endeavour, especially one that has been around for a lengthy amount of time. It is something that needs to be handled with care and to ensure that you do not remove the defining attributes that attracted the fan base in the first instance. This is not to say that grounding a character is always negative, but when your character is known for being a bit of a joker, turning him into a jerk is a complete 180 from the original design. It would be like taking Mario and having him talk about the impracticalities of being a self-employed plumber and having to rescue Daisy every few years. But hey, Dante got his white hair back at the end of DmC: Devil May Cry, so everyone calmed down eventually.
It is understandable why many people react the way they do when literally massive game-changers occur. Why mess with the ingredients that make the special sauce so special? Whether it’s nostalgic love for a franchise someone grew up with and is happy to remain as it is, or amendments that defy all logic, people don’t like change.
Are there any changes to your favourite video games that I’ve missed, or feel the above changes were a good thing? Bring them up in the comments and maybe we can have a chat about them.
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