It’s not often that a major publisher chooses to sit on a lucrative license, even one as old as EA’s heli-combat title Desert Strike. First released in the February of 1992, this topical gunship game took players to the arid plains of the Persian Gulf, on a mission to thwart the evil schemes of a certain General Kilbaba (read — Saddam Hussein)
Despite aggravating a small number of veterans and social commentators, the game was a smash-hit success for Electronic Arts, generating four solid sequels and an eventual spin-off-come-redesign in the form of Future Cop: LAPD. Now, after almost 15 years of total inactivity, this gravity-defying franchise might be about to make the most unexpected of comebacks.
According to a pair of US patent applications unearthed by Playerattack earlier this week, EA is looking to renew and/or update its ownership of the retro flying title – though whether this will lead to a reboot, reissue or some kind of legal reclamation is still unknown.
As always, trademarks remain a tricky and unreliable source of information even at the best of times, as anyone following the ongoing Half-Life 3 and Bully 2 developments will attest. Of course, even if the information provided does prove accurate, and Desert Strike is back on the front burner at EA, it’s still impossible to tell just where the company intends to take its isometric, top-down shooter.
A truly modern update, complete with over-the-top set-pieces and licensed gunships seems somewhat unlikely, given the availability of similar vehicles and gameplay experiences in EA’s own Battlefield franchise. The more likely result of this new trademark is the release of a “re-skinned” reboot, a sort of HD update of the original game’s winning formula, via the XBLA, Steam or PSN services. It could even be an EA Mobile title in the works.
It’s highly unusual that a retro game on the receiving end of so many critical and commercial plaudits could have been as easily forgotten as Desert Strike. Hopefully EA can make amends for this oversight and produce a title that lives up to pedigree of the original game while attracting a whole new generation of fans in the process.
Is the Desert Strike franchise worth reviving? What can Electronic Arts do to modernize the brand without repeating elements of the Battlefield series? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest EA news, right here on Game Rant.
Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf is now available online, via various freeware outlets. The original game also appeared on Mega Drive, SNES and Commodore Amiga consoles.
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