I've been seeing Resident Evil 6 advertisements lately, and knowing very little about it besides what's been mentioned in marketing, I can't help but feel like the series is desperately crying out for attention. After the lackluster fan response to Resident Evil 5, it seems like they're carefully backpedaling into Resident Evil 4 territory, as if to catch people's attention with "Look! It's Leon! The guy from the one you guys really liked! Please buy this game!" Other forced elements, like the inclusion of Albert Wesker as the main villain again (wasn't he killed off at the end of RE5?) make me even more skeptical.
It seems to me like a lot of these established, long-running series are going onto life support, with the developers making surgically precise tweaks (sometimes read as "manipulations") to try to draw audiences back with promises of returning to the series' prior glory. More often than not, these attempts prove to be uninspired, derivative rehashes that neither capture the original magic of the series, nor provide anything new or exciting. This bothers me. I'd really prefer for these companies to push their series into bold new directions, or perhaps even try their hand at some new IPs. More commentary after the jump.
This same trend is also notable in the Zelda series. Twilight Princess was an apology for Wind Waker and an attempt to appease screaming fanboys who were begging for a new and improved OOT. Twilight Princess brought nothing new to table and felt entirely derivative, even soulless. Nintendo realized they needed a new spark for Skyward Sword, but were still reeling from the response of Wind Waker. Even though Skyward Sword stepped back out onto the experimental limb, it was still only the smallest, carefullest of steps, fearful of another "Wind Waker" fiasco.
Meanwhile, if you look at the Mario series, you see Super Mario Galaxy in 2007, followed by Super Mario Galaxy 2 in 2010, a direct sequel that seems to embody the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." After all, if Galaxy was successful, why bother coming up with a new premise for the next game? Then you've go the Silent Hill series, which has been struggling for over a decade across six different games to recapture the fanfare of Silent Hill 2 (unsuccessfully). And then there's the Sonic games. Poor, poor Sonic.
Don't even get me started on Assassin's Creed. For a relatively young franchise, they've already beaten this one into life support, with four games in the span of five years. They're all basically the same thing (three of them even reuse the same main character, Ezio) just with increasingly tacked-on feature creep. It started out as a promising upstart IP, but in a very short amount of time it's become an uninspired exercise of safe bets. "Well, they liked Ezio, so let's just keep pumping out Ezio games as long as he's still making money for us."
The unfortunate thing is that it's kind of a lose-lose scenario for series like Resident Evil and Zelda. You've gotta figure if they change the series too much, people will complain that it's not what they expect from that series, but if they keep it too much the same, people will complain that the series is getting stale and repetitive. Realistically, it's nothing but win for the parent companies, since everyone will buy the games just for brand recognition. Which I think just goes to show that companies are motivated by sales and that money is the root of all our problems.
Basically, I find myself increasingly disinterested with these prominent series the longer they go on, because they fall into a near-impossible rut of trying to remain true to their past while evolving with the changing times. Often the product just comes out feeling conflicted or uninspired. So I kind of wish companies would seriously consider putting some of their staple IPs to rest for a little bit and focusing on some new, interesting ideas. Perhaps they could even use some of the same basic concepts and elements from their flagships in a whole new setting, and we might find that extremely invigorating.