Game People Calling: A Sequel Used to Mean Something

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

Game People Calling: A Sequel Used to Mean Something

Games turn into franchises and lose the will to invent anything other than what is expected of them.

Read Full Article

I don't hate sequels. If they try something new and succeed (GTA 3): awesome! If they try something new and fail (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance): I appreciate the effort. If they don't try anything new (Vandal Hearts 2): I am usually happy to play more of what I enjoyed previously.

I thought video game sequels were created to replicate the experience of the original while improving the gameplay or graphics or story in some fashion. I don't think anybody has ever bought a sequel for a "genuinely fresh" experience.

The same thing happens in move sequels as well as games.

1st game:awesome
2nd game:Nice
3rd game: WTF

I do mis how sequels often did follow on from one another...one of my favourites having been the Legacy of Kain Series, and the Resident Evil series...before they went so convoluted...

I mean, reboots are nice (Ie/RE4) but...sequels no longer have the same story string anymore

The CoD series certainly fit this picture.

BlueHighwind:
I thought video game sequels were created to replicate the experience of the original while improving the gameplay or graphics or story in some fashion. I don't think anybody has ever bought a sequel for a "genuinely fresh" experience.

Agreed. When I buy a sequel, I expect the same, but taken more than up to 11, actually past 11. I expect it to be the same game, but prettier, better, more epic, and longer or more fun. The Halo franchise does this pretty well. Halo 1 was epic, large, and fun. Halo 2 was Halo 1 going at 120 MPH while being chased by ninjas... who were on fire. Halo 3, while having a shorter campaign, was even more epic, with full orchestral music, fighting huge battles, and a whole bunch of non-champaign things like Forge, Theater, Screenshots and, of course, the online component. ODST came with all of the MP of 3, plus it's own campaign. This campaign was longer than 3, had FREE ROAM, random, unscripted battles, and had 3 of the cast of Firefly for VAs (Fillion, Baldwin and Tudyk). Reach's MP alone is 9001% better, and it's campaign is said to be the longest yet.

ArchAngelKira:
The same thing happens in move sequels as well as games.

1st game:awesome
2nd game:Nice
3rd game: WTF

Not always. So far, the Saints Row series has defied that (3 is supposed to come out next year). SR1 was OK, 2 was godly. Mass Effect was Awesome, then Awesomer. Same for Assassins Creed. Both L4Ds were awesome, and the Half-Life series was Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome and Awesome (1, BS, OF, 2, E1, E2).

This is why I hate all these Final Fantasy arguments of late, at least in a few franchises a sequel does always mean something new, and like Timesplitters, Final Fantasy, even Mario until very recently, more games should be willing to experiment with things this way, even if its something a little bit different each time, that for me would be great.

Outside of sports games I'm not sure what you're talking about. I agree that sequels are starting to feel a bit soulless, but the examples you bring up as good are pretty much on the level of how sequels work today. Writing down whatever pops into your head isn't always the best practice.

Veldt Falsetto:
This is why I hate all these Final Fantasy arguments of late, at least in a few franchises a sequel does always mean something new, and like Timesplitters, Final Fantasy, even Mario until very recently, more games should be willing to experiment with things this way, even if its something a little bit different each time, that for me would be great.

My thoughts exactly. Each FF game is held together on the franchise name alone. Each game could have its own name independent of the others, but I doubt that it would have sold and turned SE into the powerhouse that it is.

FloodOne:

Veldt Falsetto:
This is why I hate all these Final Fantasy arguments of late, at least in a few franchises a sequel does always mean something new, and like Timesplitters, Final Fantasy, even Mario until very recently, more games should be willing to experiment with things this way, even if its something a little bit different each time, that for me would be great.

My thoughts exactly. Each FF game is held together on the franchise name alone. Each game could have its own name independent of the others, but I doubt that it would have sold and turned SE into the powerhouse that it is.

This is true of the Final Fantasy series. For the most part they all use a turn based system, but other then that each system is generally unique as far as the mechanics go. Also with the exception of a few games no story is the same.

One thing about games in general though is that after so many sequels companies forget what it was that made their franchise great. The really should take a step back and re-evaluate what it was that made it so popular.

I also get -VERY- excited at the idea of TS4. TS3 is one of my favourites of all time so far, and simply the possibility (which there still is!) gets me really interested.

My thought is simply that the point of doing a sequel is to produce more of the same, any changes and improvements should be relatively minor in fixing/enhancing the product.

If your going to entirely re-do the game from scratch, or change core elements of the experience, you should be making an entirely new product like rather than trying to make it a sequel to an existing franchise.

It's sort of like what I say constantly about "Fallout 3", it's really a truely great game but it's NOT "Fallout". Bethesda should have started their own post apocolyptic franchise instead of sticking the name on it for a marketing gimmick... and really that's increasingly what Sequels are becoming since you can't rely on a consistant experience.

Spin off series are a general exception, since they can be done without confusing something with an actual sequel. Also there are a few labels like "Final Fantasy" which cover similar but unrelated media similar to oh say "Tales From The Crypt" that represent something of an exception to this general rule.

To me "Crackdown 2" was exactly what I expected, and more or less perfect as a sequel. It's pretty much more of the same... a true sequel. It carries on the storyline (somewhat) and included some improvements and updates without changing the fundemental game play.

Such are my thoughts. Basically if someone wanted to make a "supercop" game set in a sandbox that truely altered the formula and how things worked, then they should make a new franchise for it instead of calling it "Crackdown".

Honestly, I await a single player sandbox super-hero game where you can select powers like in "City Of Heroes" or whatever instead of being handed a pre-defined set like inFamous, Prototype, or whatever else. While the game itself had some problems I saw how it could be done with the Diablo-Esque "X-Hero" many years ago, but it seems nobody has wanted to really explore the potential. Perhaps because there is fear that it would be too complicated for the mainstream... simplifying everything as much as possible seems to be the industry's design goal nowadays.

The Timesplitters games are truly fantastic. I'd say they're the best games ever made.
Since playing them I have not seen a series that encapsulates all the pure fun, the unique charm, or the damn-near perfect gameplay.

And like you said, each one is so different while being so similar. Each one offers a unique experience. Each one is fun as all hell and should be played by everyone. And if you haven't yet had the joy of playing the epiphany of awesome that is Timesplitters, then I pity you.

Oh, and if anyone at Crytek is reading this, please, please for the love of all that is holy, make a Timesplitters 4. Or at least create a bundle of the first 3 and release them on the PC.

I would gladly pay any amount of money for anything Timesplitters. Seriously, we need Timesplitters to save us from this rut of "gritty and realistic" games. We need Timesplitters to show everyone how to make an insanely fun and funny game. We need Timesplitters to show the world that 4-player split-screen isn't dead, and that playing with bots is still fun.

WE! NEED! TIMESPLITTERS!

Sorry, kind of went off there. Actually, I'm not sorry. I meant every, single, word.

You know, this reminds me of how yesterday I was thinking about Scott McCloud's theory of creative thought and how it applied to videogames. He says there are six levels in which one understands a media, surface-technique-structure-idiom-idea-form, and the deeper is your understanding the better you control that art. Usually, you need to know at least down to structure to make anything worthwhile, and form is reserved only for those who reshape an entire media with their body of work.

My thought is that videogames only care about surface, which is the shallowest part of it. So we have sequels that look like their predecessors but don't play like it. That's why Bioshock 2 has dark environments and a political-sounding storyline but doesn't draw in the player like the first one did, because they tried to do something that looked like the first one (surface) instead of repeating its themes and motifs (idiom). And that's why the Bubble Bobble sequels mentioned felt like sequels, because they followed the idiom (or perhaps structure, it's hard to say without playing) then rebuilt the technique and surface on top of that.

The industry sees gamers as too dumb to notice anything more than skin deep, so surface-deep games and sequels are the norm.

HG131:

ArchAngelKira:
The same thing happens in move sequels as well as games.

1st game:awesome
2nd game:Nice
3rd game: WTF

Not always. So far, the Saints Row series has defied that (3 is supposed to come out next year). SR1 was OK, 2 was godly. Mass Effect was Awesome, then Awesomer. Same for Assassins Creed. Both L4Ds were awesome, and the Half-Life series was Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome and Awesome (1, BS, OF, 2, E1, E2).

I think that for games, more than movies, sometimes the first game doesn't come out exactly how the devs intended, because gameplay is a very tricky thing. So it gets pushed down the line: instead of awesome, nice, wtf it gets nice, awesome (when the first sequel nails what the first one tried to do), nice (when the third sequel just gives more of the same), wtf (when the fourth sequel tries not to stagnate and goes crazy). Saints' Row and TimeSplitters both seem to be on that path. And, of course, this is just a generalization, I say the Tony Hawk series went straight from awesome (THPS1-4) to wtf (THUG and what followed).

Also, I'd describe the Half-Life Series (including only what I've played, 1, 2, EP1, EP2) as Horrible, Horrible, Playable and Finally Getting the Hang of It.

Game People:
Game People Calling: A Sequel Used to Mean Something

Games turn into franchises and lose the will to invent anything other than what is expected of them.

Read Full Article

so Dragon age origins 2 shall possibly be more your cup of tea?

anyway I loved the mention of Timesplitters was waiting for someone to finally do so x)

The greatest Sequel of all time is coming Starcraft 2 !!

It's a no-win situation in many ways for the developers - make changes to the formula of the previous game, and people will complain that it's not part of the series any more, and is using the name as a marketing tactic; make no major changes apart from a follow-up storyline, and people complain that nothing's changed, it's the same game, and that the corporations involved are all evil money-grabbing bastards.

Example: Halo 3:ODST.
Critics complained that the halo franchise was being milked, and that it was an overpriced DLC pack rather than a new game
Fans complained that they weren't master chief, and they didn't like the vulnerability aspects. And also that it was an overpriced DLC pack.
(I actually really enjoyed it. Also, it had Nathan Fillion, who basically just played Mal again)

On the other hand, enough people buy every iteration of the 'triple-A' franchises that 1)someone will complain no matter what, and 2) the company will make a fuck-ton of money anyway, so long as they at least pretend it's a new game.

Good article. It does seem to me that sequels now have lost something. In the old days a sequel, whilst being a follow up, would still have its own clear identity. The most obvious example I can think of is Metal Gear Solid. It helps that at that point the Metal Gear franchise was jumping from 2D to 3D, but still, it's a game that, whilst following on from the first two Metal Gears, managed to carve it's own identity. Heck, even the MGS sequels managed it as well: face it, there's no way you're ever confusing Sons Of Liberty with Snake Eater with Guns Of The Patriots. I'm not a huge fan of the franchise but at least each game has got it's own identity.

To contrast, I played both Assassin's Creed games not too long ago, and personally I didn't understand the hype behind the second one at all. It essentially felt like a patched, de-bugged, slightly expanded version of the first game, only set in Italy. The graphics were identical, the animations were the same... hell, they added a load of sidequests, but they all still revolved around 'Hold R1+X and move forward'. It was very much a tidied-up AC1, not the full blown AC2 that I was hankering for.

Sephiwind:

FloodOne:

Veldt Falsetto:
This is why I hate all these Final Fantasy arguments of late, at least in a few franchises a sequel does always mean something new, and like Timesplitters, Final Fantasy, even Mario until very recently, more games should be willing to experiment with things this way, even if its something a little bit different each time, that for me would be great.

My thoughts exactly. Each FF game is held together on the franchise name alone. Each game could have its own name independent of the others, but I doubt that it would have sold and turned SE into the powerhouse that it is.

This is true of the Final Fantasy series. For the most part they all use a turn based system, but other then that each system is generally unique as far as the mechanics go. Also with the exception of a few games no story is the same.

One thing about games in general though is that after so many sequels companies forget what it was that made their franchise great. The really should take a step back and re-evaluate what it was that made it so popular.

I can agree with that, but my favorite FF titles come from all over the timeline. 6 and 10 are my top two, followed closely by 7, 13 and 4.

I like that SE isn't afraid to drastically change the formula. not every swing is gonna be a home run, but SE isn't afraid to step up to the plate and try something different each time. I, for one, would be sorely disappointed if they just tried to make what they were making 15 years ago. I want the franchise to continue to push boundaries, even if the result isn't a timeless classic. It keeps the name from getting stale.

AvsJoe:
I don't hate sequels. If they try something new and succeed (GTA 3): awesome! If they try something new and fail (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance): I appreciate the effort. If they don't try anything new (Vandal Hearts 2): I am usually happy to play more of what I enjoyed previously.

I love Final Fantasy Tactics Advance >.>

I love games, where sequels are simply more of the same... If I enjoyed the first, what should be wrong with getting more of that, in an even better produced package, where they have retained most, if not all, that which made the last game great, and maybe added a couple of ideas (Think the Total War series)?
On the other hand, I love my copy of Dawn of War 2 and Chaos Rising to death, even though they were a massive departure from the original (they basically went from a classic RTS to a squad-based RPG/RTS thingy, which I think works excellently btw.). It worked, IMHO, because even though it was different, it retained enough of the original's atmosphere and storytelling (It's WH40K, how could it not be fantastic?), mixed with a new and (again IMHO) exciting form of gameplay, adding co-op to the campaign, and a fast-paced MP-section to round it off with.

I guess, what I'm trying to say is, it depends on your taste... Adding new ideas, or perhaps even reworking the entire series for the sequel is all well and good, as long as you retain the spirit and atmosphere of the original... But sometimes, people just want more of the same... In a bigger, louder, more well-refined box...

Best Regards :)

Meh. We used to be able to do sequels. I was bought up on "Street Fighter 2", "System Shock 2" and "Jungle Strike". Now we have "Bioshock 2" and "Crackdown 2". Games cost too much to produce for the developers to take chances any more. Who wants to bet we'll never again see a game where knights ride ostriches and joust with each other?

On a conceptual level, sequels have three basic components:

The Familiar - A good sequel should invoke much of the same sensation and experience of the previous game.

The New - A good sequel should bring something new that the previous game did not have.

The Refined - A good sequel should fix the mistakes and half-steps the previous game made.

All sequels have a mix of all three, but it's the proportion of each that's hard to get right.

Hexenwolf:

AvsJoe:
I don't hate sequels. If they try something new and succeed (GTA 3): awesome! If they try something new and fail (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance): I appreciate the effort. If they don't try anything new (Vandal Hearts 2): I am usually happy to play more of what I enjoyed previously.

I love Final Fantasy Tactics Advance >.>

I enjoyed it, but it's not as good as the original Tactics. I was still a decent game in its own right though. The judges system was unique.

Straying Bullet:
The CoD series certainly fit this picture.

I disagree

CoD1: OMG WW2 AWESOMENESS
CoD2: OMG MOAR WW2 AWESOMENESS
CoD3: Did anyone even play this since it was console only?
CoD4: OMG MW AWESOMENESS
CoD5: This is pretty awesome too
MW2: Meh

In my opinion its more like the Modern Warfare series fits the picture :P

I think we're kind of spoiled that we get sequels to games we like, at all. I say that as someone who remembers fondly many games in the late 80s and early 90s on PCs that I would have loved to see more of, and if I was lucky I got -a- sequel. Even if they'd just taken the same exact engine and simply added a new story, I would have loved to see more of several different franchises. A few, like Ultima, did all of that and more, advancing both the engine and the storyline, and we've had scant examples of that sort of progression since then.

Now, we've got quite the opposite, with a handful of extremely successful franchises cranking out sequel after sequel, and while I'm not always enthused with the latest incarnation of FF, CoD or the poster child of such behavior, Madden, I don't think it's a bad thing that we've got a PC and console gaming industry that can rely on steady revenue streams from proven products. I don't think it's a zero sum game that if AAA title sequel 8 is being made that some mythical new game wouldn't be made. Rather, when they're done raking in the cash from all their standbys, they've got the wherewithal to take a risk on a title that never would have seen the light of day otherwise.

The Random One:

HG131:

ArchAngelKira:
The same thing happens in move sequels as well as games.

1st game:awesome
2nd game:Nice
3rd game: WTF

Not always. So far, the Saints Row series has defied that (3 is supposed to come out next year). SR1 was OK, 2 was godly. Mass Effect was Awesome, then Awesomer. Same for Assassins Creed. Both L4Ds were awesome, and the Half-Life series was Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome and Awesome (1, BS, OF, 2, E1, E2).

I think that for games, more than movies, sometimes the first game doesn't come out exactly how the devs intended, because gameplay is a very tricky thing. So it gets pushed down the line: instead of awesome, nice, wtf it gets nice, awesome (when the first sequel nails what the first one tried to do), nice (when the third sequel just gives more of the same), wtf (when the fourth sequel tries not to stagnate and goes crazy). Saints' Row and TimeSplitters both seem to be on that path. And, of course, this is just a generalization, I say the Tony Hawk series went straight from awesome (THPS1-4) to wtf (THUG and what followed).

Also, I'd describe the Half-Life Series (including only what I've played, 1, 2, EP1, EP2) as Horrible, Horrible, Playable and Finally Getting the Hang of It.

Actually, the Saints Row series is going to be MORE over the top and awesome for 3, and personally, I don't mind more of the same. If I enjoyed the same game, give me more, I don't mind. Also, I liked THUG, THUG2, AW and basically all of them (I haven't played Ride however, and never will). As for that last part, I'd say you have a death wish, as there are alot of people who would kill you for saying that.

SAMAS:
On a conceptual level, sequels have three basic components:

The Familiar - A good sequel should invoke much of the same sensation and experience of the previous game.

The New - A good sequel should bring something new that the previous game did not have.

The Refined - A good sequel should fix the mistakes and half-steps the previous game made.

All sequels have a mix of all three, but it's the proportion of each that's hard to get right.

Only applies to stories. Try to consider a computer game in a similar vein to....lets say....van Gough's Sunflowers series.

Each is done in a different style with a different subject based around a central concept; advancement of technique and appeal are the important factors.
They don't need to have the same feeling, in fact it's advantageous for each piece to stand distinct from it's sisters.
Fixing mistakes may not be relevant with a new subject and with a different tone and style the 'mistakes' may even be an advantageous fit. If you can't do better then make it a part of your work.

A series can simply be a conceptually unified series of works not a progressive story in which case all that matters is that each new iteration is different.

Does anyone remember the Journeyman Project Games? I especially loved 3: Legacy of Time, where it is revealed that aliens destroyed three previous human civilizations for the Legacy, an alien pyramid device that provided power to the civilization. The three civilizations were Atlantis, Shangri-La and El Dorado. And your character, Gage Blackwood, Agent 5, must track down the pieces of the Legacy to rebuild it before the aliens come to earth and destroy it again.

Now there was a sequel!

Genuine innovation... in Haze?! I wonder what it is. Nectar? Are you joking? Feign death "feature"? Not funny - I remember it from Team Fortress Classic of 1999. Changing factions half-way through plot?

Overall, it's like the author thinks that grass was greener, and the sky was brighter back in the 198x/9x. I remember old sequels, and they quite often were like their predecessors - remember fantastic Fallout 2, remember DOOM 2 and many others.

Sequel should NOT surprise gamers by some radical change in gameplay or concept. I buy a sequel because I like the original and want more of it, with better quality or just continuation of the story, not because I want something radically new.

If developer/publisher wants to experiment, it's great, but don't you dare to experiment with my dedication and money by making completely different game of sequel to something I like very much! It's a plain deception, it's exploitation of the old name to sell something completely unrelated. Make new franchise, promote it and sell instead.

This article definitely needs to be read by the Dragon Age fan community right now. When the game was announced a week ago (and with all the sparse details that implies), everyone immediately started panning it for the changes its bringing to the series. Personally, I think there's too little info to judge it on. And sequels should change and evolve anyway. I played DA:O and loved it. I don't need to play the same thing with the names changed. Bring on the innovation.

I agree wth this.

However, i still cling to a certain series whose sequels never cease to make me happy, but sadly the rest of the fanbase is in a love-hate relationship with them, so blame the fans.

Unrulyhandbag:

SAMAS:
On a conceptual level, sequels have three basic components:

The Familiar - A good sequel should invoke much of the same sensation and experience of the previous game.

The New - A good sequel should bring something new that the previous game did not have.

The Refined - A good sequel should fix the mistakes and half-steps the previous game made.

All sequels have a mix of all three, but it's the proportion of each that's hard to get right.

Only applies to stories. Try to consider a computer game in a similar vein to....lets say....van Gough's Sunflowers series.

Each is done in a different style with a different subject based around a central concept; advancement of technique and appeal are the important factors.
They don't need to have the same feeling, in fact it's advantageous for each piece to stand distinct from it's sisters.
Fixing mistakes may not be relevant with a new subject and with a different tone and style the 'mistakes' may even be an advantageous fit. If you can't do better then make it a part of your work.

A series can simply be a conceptually unified series of works not a progressive story in which case all that matters is that each new iteration is different.

In this case, the Familiar is the subject: Sunflowers. The New is of course the differences in the paintings. And the Refinemed would be improvements in his painting technique between each one, whether large or minute.

I can accept a certain amount of change in video game franchises, but when you take away the basics that made the game unique just to fit in with the current standard, that's when I have a problem. I'll go ahead and request anyone to play the very first Final Fantasy game on Nintendo, then play the latest version. Skip all the stuff in the middle, and go by those two games within the same franchise. You'll see some similarities from the original in the newest version, but they are so distant on all other aspects as to nearly make them completely different games, just joined by a similar title.
I agree that Fallout has fallen quite a bit from the first two in the series. I don't think every single game needs to be modernized when there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. Slapping a new GUI or graphics engine doesn't really constitute a great sequel. GTA is one of the few games I can think of that actually benefited from that change and helped to make the game more deep for the player. Fallout didn't need a to become a FPS in order to survive for me. The third-person isometric view was fine for me, and I'd have been happy to see it continue along that path, maybe with the option of being able to turn the camera. People crapped on Fallout Tactics, but they did little to change the game itself. You were dropped in an area, given the same format as the previous two games, but now you had to consider the factor of line-of-sight when attacking an enemy. There was still a story, maybe not the one you were totally familiar with since it took the angle of the Brotherhood of Steel. I played the hell out of Fallout Tactics, and even enjoyed the multiplayer on occasion (when my brother didn't mind getting his ass handed to him with a Neostead from a robot when he tried to rush my team in a house). It was a slightly different flavor of a franchise we'd known and were familiar with.

How about the Harvest Moon franchise? The basic game mechanic hasn't changed over the years. You still farm, try to balance a social life and make money. Some of the faces and scenery have changed, but the fundamentals are all still the same. When they attempt to add gimmicks to change the game from the original formula, I think that's where people tune out. You need to add a few subtle changes in order to stay somewhat with the times, but keep it within the right context. I didn't really want to talk about CoD, but it's pretty hard not to within this topic. I haven't seen a lot of innovations in the last three games. They change a few weapons around, but that's basically it. Maybe a minor graphical tweak here and there, but they are still pumping out the same generic shooter they've always put out, and it is just getting stagnant.

Saint's Row has done a good job in the last two games of keeping the story straight and remaining faithful to what kept people coming back to play the game without getting annoying about it. Adding more speech to the main character was a nice touch over the first game (where you only spoke two lines in the whole game), and they took out the bonus you got from having to color all your cars purple to impress the gang (I did get a little tired of that color after a while). The city didn't change so drastically that you couldn't tell it apart from the first game, they changed the names of the gangs around to reflect the progress you made in the first game, and just stuck with the same familiar game and changed little things here and there to make it stand out just enough as a new game without having to reinvent the entire franchise. More companies need to pay attention to this example and do what they can to follow suit if they want to keep up the popularity of their franchises.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here