10 dormant game franchises perfect for bringing back in VR

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Condemned: Criminal Origins

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The Xbox 360 launch title, Condemned: Criminal Origins, and its multiplatform follow-up, put players in the first-person shoes of FBI profiler Ethan Thomas, who fights and outfoxes violent strangers as he chases down the serial killer who framed him for murder. Though Condemned’s narrative left much to be desired, by many accounts, the creepy atmosphere made moment-to-moment experience of roaming through dark, abandoned buildings terrifying and engrossing.

Horror feels like one of the most ripe genres for VR gaming. People are afraid of what they don’t understand, and most of us have no idea what to expect in a VR game. Just as games like the original Resident Evil and Silent Hill used the limitations of the PlayStation hardware to make players feel out of control, so, too, could developer Monolith Productions find a way to do the same for the awkward, but immersive act of interacting within virtual reality.

Red Faction collection

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THQ’s explosion-heavy first-person shooter was a pioneer in modifiable environments — its “GeoMod” mechanics allowed players to destroy whole buildings and blow holes in the rocky landscape of Mars. Games like Minecraft and Chunks, a voxel-based crafting game from Garry’s Mod developer Facepunch Studios, show how fun it can be to build something up around you virtually. If creating environments is that much fun, imagine how much fun it would be to destroy them.

Time Crisis series

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The multiplex arcade’s favorite son returns, and with the help of room-scaling sensors, the series could finally move forward from 1990s arcade classic to modern VR spectacle.

For those who have forgottenn, the Time Crisis series was a first-person arcade shooter where players pressed a pedal to pop up from behind cover to shoot enemies using an IR-based light gun. Though a pedal-less version of the game came out on consoles, the game’s novelty never quite translated without the physical component.

Can the HTC Vive detect a desk or a table in the center of the room? Let’s assume it can. Instead of pressing a pedal, you actually kneel — or duck in a chair — to hide behind cover and reload. If Namco wanted to get real fancy, it could even make AI-controlled enemies that sneak around and outflank players behind cover.

Jumping Flash

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The time is finally right for the original PlayStation’s wackiest launch title to return! Jumping Flash, a first-person 3D platformer, put players in control of a hopping bunny robot called Robbit. Though the premise was simple — finish the level within the time limit — the feeling of jumping high felt invigorating.

If Crytek can make a tired mechanic like climbing interesting again in VR, then surely Jumping Flash can reinvigorate the beloved platformer. This could, in fact, be a bright new day for first-person platformers, which never really gained a substantial following on consoles or PC. Maybe the enhanced sensation of jumping super-high in VR will bring the genre to new heights.

Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: TIE Fighter

LucasArts’ classic space dogfighting sims, X-Wing, TIE Fighter and X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, were essential playing for an entire generation of PC gamers and Star Wars fans. That feeling of whizzing through space, taking out Empire (or Rebel) ships, generated the kind of feels in the early ’90s that VR can generate now.

As you might expect, the two key pieces of X-Wing and TIE Fighter are already available in VR. First, the Oculus Rift pre-order pack in EVE: Valkyrie offers spaceship fighter battles, albeit unlicensed. Second, HTC has shown a Star Wars demo on the Vive, though it’s lightsaber-based, instead of spaceship combat, and not currently available to the public.

With a new wave a Star Wars films already underway, a great X-Wing versus TIE fighter game doesn’t need to be a creative breakthrough to be a breakout success.

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