Now I want to know what shoes Austin had back in 2012…
On topic though, a series reinventing itself has gone bad more than it has gone well. Most reinventions though always seem to just follow whatever the mainstream games are doing those days. Assassin’s Creed goes from a more bespoke, linear experience (atlhough it was still open-world, it was barely anything compared to the newer games) to a vast open-world game with weird mission structure like an RPG. Note: I have no played AC:Origins yet. Far Cry goes from an admittedly bad shooter to a hardcore, difficult game and then back to a standard fare open-world game like every other AAA game that came out around Far Cry 3/4/Primal’s time.
Hitman has gone through the gutter and come out on the other side when IO realized that for a more niche series, reinvention is more about realizing the strengths of the older games and adding a little more quality-of-life. Absolution was a mess. As a long-time Hitman fan, Absolution was a reinviention that missed everything that was good with Hitman. There was no preparation, no fun creative outlets. It just felt like your bog-standard AAA game. And then HITMAN 2016 comes out, and it’s a reinvention on a reinvention that’s actually just bringing it back to its roots and it’s wonderful. It has everything that the older games had in terms of the actual fun mechanics, but it’s changed enough that it doesn’t feel like trying to go back to how unapproachable those older games were.
Doom also went through the same path that HITMAN did. First it was a mind-blowing FPS, then it becomes an average horror FPS, has some issues, and finally comes back as what it originally was; a fun romp with excessive gore and shooting. Not that I particularly enjoyed the newest DOOM, but many people did and I can understand why.
Resident Evil’s move to more action-oriented games also brought the series down. And then it comes back around by going back to what Resident Evil was originally known for, the horror. Again, much like Doom, I didn’t enjoy the most recent Resident Evil game. I love the first, but I also - and I know this is a guilty pleasure - love Resident Evil 5. I played it cooperatively, and while I will never revisit that game I enjoyed every second of getting 100% achievements on that game.
As for a reinvention that went terrible, look no further than Orcs Must Die. That series went from a really interesting third-person tower defense game, to a really interesting third-person tower defense game with fun cooperative multiplayer, to a MOBA. And Orcs Must Die: Unchained is not even really a fun MOBA. It feels lifeless.
Red Faction Guerrilla also changed that series up into a bog-standard action game, which was a huge change to what Guerrilla brought to the table.