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[Friday Five] Hopes and Fears for THQ Franchises

Despite a stint on Humble Bundle and a bid to sell the company as a whole, THQ has finally dissolved, leaving in its wake the sale of well-beloved franchises and veteran development teams. This splintering has called into question the future of many games, but luckily there is as much hope as there is doubt for titles previously under the THQ banner.

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Saint’s Row

While the Grand Theft Auto series has long been the king of sandbox crime games, Saint’s Row quietly made its debut as a slightly cartoonish, but straight example of the genre. It wasn’t until Saint’s Row: The Third did the series come into its own as an over-the-top, sometimes garish, but mostly ridiculous send-up of its predecessors and of sandbox games in general. Hopefully, Volition’s new home at Koch Media won’t tarnish a series that has only just found itself, but Deep Silver’s track record leaves something to be desired.

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Metro

Set in a post-apocalyptic and Eastern European setting not unlike STALKER (probably because developer 4A Studios was formed by former GSC Game World employees), this survival-horror adaptation of a Russian sci-fi novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky was something of a sleeper hit, featuring an unorthodox interface that put immersion above all else as well as punishing difficulty settings. Its sequel, Metro: Last Light, is due sometime this quarter, though its publishing rights have shifted to Koch Media, which casts quite a bit of doubt into the future of the franchise as a whole, especially considering the lackluster critical performance of their previous horror game, Dead Island.

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Warhammer 40,000

One of the most well-known tabletop games in the world made its most successful mark on the PC gaming world with its Dawn of War series, faithfully converting its well-loved “grimdark” science fiction epic from its rulebooks (or codexes) to the RTS genre, as well as action-adventure with Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine. Luckily, Sega, who has bought Relic Entertainment, has already proven themselves in the RTS genre with its publishing of Creative Assembly’s Total War series.

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Homefront

Despite an ambitious story, Homefront was bogged down by a troubled development cycle, which eventually contributed to the game’s lukewarm critical reception. Despite plans for a sequel, Kaos Studios was closed, relegating development to Crytek UK, who has come to the franchise’s rescue once again by buying up its publishing rights. Known for their sci-fi shooter series, Crysis, Crytek UK will likely have no problems with taking on Homefront.

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South Park

Not many cartoons have had the pleasure of being as popular as South Park has, but its history of less-than stellar video games have long since been a blight on the senses of its fans with gaming proclivities. Its first RPG outing, The Stick of Truth, due out sometime this year, has had its publishing rights sold to Ubisoft, however, South Park Studios has objected to its sale due to a contract signed with THQ, which may just prove fatal to future South Park games.

Despite years of money troubles, THQ managed to publish and develop dozens of successful titles, even attempting to keep the company together in a last ditch attempt at survival, but alas, Chapter 11 bankruptcy calls. With any luck, these franchises’ new homes may even bring them to a whole new level of quality.

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