The Genre Jumping Games That Defied Critics

The games that switched categories without skipping a beat - and were all the better for it.

A screenshot taken from Nintendo's retro game Metroid.
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At a time when Activision pummels gamers with a brand new Call Of Duty every single year, it’s easy to forget that not every game franchise is Just Another First Person Shooter - and of those that are, not every one remains a FPS throughout their life. Some developers are happy to throw a few new levels and characters into their sequels, but some of gaming’s greatest series have survived and evolved by changing genre completely to keep things fresh. Here are six of the best.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

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Legendary role playing game series XCOM has flip-flopped through a few different genres since the first game hit in 1994, but the series is known for its strategic roots, cerebral gameplay and isometric point of view. There’s been a first-person shooter in the series, and the latest game to bear the XCOM name started life as one too. This time, prequel The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a squad-based third-person tactical shooter set in 1962 that sets the scene for last year’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown and shifts away from the series’ strategy sim roots. Hardcore fans of the games were not too happy when the announcement was made, but hopefully the new title will please fans when it lands next August - with Enemy Unknown’s astounding 90 percent Metacritic rating, the team have set a high bar for themselves to clear.

Metroid Prime

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Nintendo’s classic space sidescroller, Metroid, skipped the Nintendo 64, so gamers were more than a little surprised when Nintendo tasked Texas’ Retro Studios with making a first person shooter installment in the series for the followup GameCube console in 2001. It was a match made in heaven though: Metroid Prime was a FPS instead of a platformer, but it still felt like Metroid at heart, with all the atmosphere and elements of exploration perfectly preserved in the switchover. It’s not your typical Call Of Duty-style shooter: the Metroid Prime titles require a lot of patience, just like the original 2D titles, the reason the genre jump works so well.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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When Metal Gear Rising was first announced it was still called Metal Gear Solid: Rising, a new installment in the main series of the hit stealth game with an action twist and a new protagonist, cyborg samurai Raiden who first appeared in Metal Gear Solid 2. But the project hit a few bumps, and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima handed over the reins to developers Platinum Games, the team behind the critically acclaimed Bayonetta. The result? This year’s spin-off Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, an insanely fast-paced hack-and-slash game that bore little resemblance to the Metal Gear Solid series - but was every bit as gripping.

Halo Wars

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Halo has been the Xbox’s flagship series since the first game came out in 2001. It’s a shooter franchise through and through, but in 2009 the series took a turn towards the real time strategy (RTS) genre with Halo Wars. The developers behind the famed Age of Empires games took the helm and cranked out one of the most successful RTS games on console to date, selling well over a million copies. Halo’s since returned to the FPS genre, but another strategy game in the franchise would be welcomed with open arms, especially given the arrival of Kinect motion control and Halo’s rich lore.

Fallout 3

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The Fallout franchise started life as a post-apocalyptic, third-person, top-down role playing game, but a decade after Fallout 2, Fallout 3 arrived to critical acclaim as a first and third person action adventure - with a ton of RPG elements whacked in. Fallout: New Vegas followed, and there’s bound to be more titles on the way now that a long-running legal battle over the property has come to an end.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

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Like Metroid, Castlevania was another atmospheric 2D platformer made famous on yesteryear’s classic consoles. It too made a successful leap into 3D, with 2010’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Konami’s follow-up rebooted the vampire slaying series as a third-person action-adventure game - it was well received, and there’s both a sequel and a spin-off on the way later this year.