Tuesday, February 16, 2010


There have been a lot of sequels to blockbuster games floating around out there in the past several months. We've had Uncharted 2, Assassin's Creed 2, Mass Effect 2, and now Bioshock 2 all hit shelves since October.

This made me think about what I look most forward to in a game sequel. I like the idea of seeing familiar game play and characters in new environments and adventures. I like to imagine where things could go, and then watch the vision of the game creator unfold in front of me, often times to see something I never would have imagined. I also like to see how a control scheme may have changed to simplify or streamline things.

There are certain moments in new games that really make you glad to see a sequel come along. I know, for me, seeing the landscape of Earth exploding from space in Halo 2 was an awesome moment. Fighting a Scarab for the first time and traveling to a new Halo World were moments that really stuck with me. Moments like waking up as adult Link in the Ocarina of Time... or finding Castle Hyrule under water in the Wind Waker are the type of "Fuck yes!" moments that keep me anticipating the next chapter.

A game like Uncharted 2 featured updated visuals, which is saying a lot considering how amazing the first game looked. It took Nathan Drake on a new adventure, and managed to feature environments that were not a jungle. One such environments was a train... that's right... a fucking train. And, not the cabin either, I got to fight and perform some wicked parkour on the side of a train... awesome. The creators of the Uncharted games, Naughty Dog, also take real life legends and add their spin to it. I've always liked stories about the treasures of the "old world." I mean I used to watch this horrid excuse for a cartoon EVERY DAY:

So you can probably see how ol' Nathan Drake's interests and mine might cross paths.

To the idea of fixing and stream lining game mechanics you probably won't find a better example than Mass Effect 2. I think I hit one glitch in my entire 51 hour first play through in which I was stuck behind a sales counter on the Citadel. I think Volus are kind of cute, so this wasn't a big deal, but it did hinder my game progress. I lost about 30 minutes of play because of that, but it wasn't a huge deal... save more often, idiot. Other than that, everything was better from a game play aspect... they even made the achievements better. No shitty inventory system, no constant frame rate problems, no crashes, better gun play, and the only Mako in the game was a stationary one that I never had to drive... fuck that thing. Then of course there was the continuation of the amazing story that Mass Effect set in front of us. I liked how the first game wrapped up it's little chapter, but still managed to leave you with the much larger story spinning through your mind. I wanted to know everything about the Reapers after finishing the first game and it was painful to think it would likely be 4 more years before the rest of the story unfolded. It was a pain I was willing to endure so long as it meant I had more Mass Effect on the way.

Then there's always the rare game that doesn't change that much, but still manages to be awesome. Take Bioshock 2. I had almost zero interest in this game from the outset because it seemed like they didn't change much of anything. From a game play perspective, that was fine as I had no real problems with how the original worked. The idea to return to Rapture is what was putting me off, and from what I read it's what was putting a lot of people off. I felt like I was going to be playing a game I already played. I just didn't feel like I'd have one of those "watching Earth explode from space" moments. After reviews started coming out and watching a few videos, I was swayed to give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. The game is just plain good. It doesn't have that same groundbreaking or mysterious feel that the first game had, but I'm not sure that it wants to or needs to. It's still features the same creepy atmosphere as the first game, and adds a new chapter to the story. I did hear somebody ask why they didn't reveal a little more of the story before the release, and I have to agree because I think it would have helped people to better understand the premise of this game. Somebody has returned to Rapture and and is restarting the little sister program. I think letting people know that before hand would have stirred up speculation and excitement for the new title. Either way, once you crack it open and start diving into the story, it provides you with enough of that wonder to keep you pushing forward.

And, really, I think that's the big thing for me in a sequel: The wonder. As the gamer playing a sequel you probably had a love for, or at the very least and appreciation for, the first game. You've seen what other games have done with sequels and you're excited to get that same feeling with you new favorite franchises. It's exciting and I love it every time.

Oh and before I wrap this up, you can add games like the upcoming Saint's Row 3 and Crackdown 2 to games I'm anticipating for the pure fun factor. There's not much story there or anything that makes these games "epic" in their scale... but dammit the previous iterations were fuuuuuun, and my friends and I look forward to getting into them.

Oh, and more Borderlands please.

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