Extra Punctuation: Building Sequels Badly

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You say that nothing good comes of it if developers listen to the fans.
Yet I recall that in a review of the Thief series you said that the second game was the best in the series because the developers actually listened to the fans.

Really feel I have to mention Zone of The Enders: The Second Runner as a sequel with a better story (and gameplay). The first one explained very little and then Second Runner explained the politics of the universe and finished the storyline with no loose ends really.

Hmm, don't agree that Portal 1 was so significantly better than Portal 2, in fact I think everything was pretty much perfect in Portal 2, a perfect evolution of the original as it expanded into full-game status. I felt the story and characters were very amusing, the new mechanics quite fun and satisfying to use, and the sections between test areas were a perfect break from the tests themselves.

You're just reaching for things to nitpick at. Don't lie, you know you loved it.

CopperBoom:

ascorbius:

Elder Scrolls (Oblivion was FAR better than any previous game, which looks to be surpassed again by Skyrim)

While I do think Skyrim will be amazing Oblivion was only better compared to Arena.
I thought (personally of course) that Morrowind was MILES better and deeper than Oblivion which was so mass-market and watered down... and that one is not even my favourite!
My favourite is still Daggerfall, although it has been a while since I have played it, it has the biggest world to play in and seems the most "free". It was like an FPS single player Ultima Online.

You know, I could never get into the 1st two Elder scrolls games.. believe me I tried.. there seemed to be a massive barrier to entry for me which they ironed out (in my opinion) in Oblivion. Oblivion just played well, so well I sank over 100 hours into it. It was massive too. Could be it was watered down for less hardcore players? I don't know, but it was immersive, which is what a RPG should be and accessible enough to get me into it.. so in this case, it was a sequel to a game which took it's origins, listened to feedback and emerged with an awesome product which suited a broader RPG audience. Maybe it's an approachability thing, I never got into Baldurs Gate but loved Neverwinter Nights. That said, I never did try Morrowind - I guess Arena and Daggerfall put me off - I might give it a try if I can get hold of it.
I'm REALLY Looking forward to Skyrim. If it can be Oblivion and then some, I'll be happy.. wife won't be though.

funguy2121:

Choppaduel:
snip

Your avatar. "Uncle Grandfather," from the Adult Swim mini Perfect Hair Forever. There may be a small chance I'm wrong and that it's the old dude from Dragon Ball but...excuse me, my dork is showing.

Anyway, in case you can't tell from his name, Uncle Grandfather (yes that implies exactly what you think it does) is a perv.

Actually, my avatar is Coiffio, the Evil Controller of Cats.

this is Uncle Grandfather

image

I just realized how off topic we are.

uhhhhh... GO YAHTZEE! YAY! you show those fanboys.

I understand the point, or rather because I'm a fan I think I do but are dead wrong. The problem with
sequels is that the developers work to much on how to please the fans,
and don't work hard enough to make the game better. That may be a valid theory. I can't say.
I'm a real big Yehtzee fan so as the article says I'm probably wrong. : ) Or not.

I agree with most of what Yahtzee says,and he is right about some critical bullet points like the re usage of old characters in sequels,one of the main interesting stuff about good games is the interrogations that it leaves you with,for example take the first 3 halos,halo 1 was by far the most creative game of the 7(I think they are 7),while halo 2 and halo 3 spoil some of the mystery about the Halos and the covenant,the same can be said about good sequels like for example Hitman:blood money,which focus itself more on delivering new missions instead of keep running the same basis that contracts left(the whole Romanian cloning facility stuff.

However as a fan I must point out a game that often didn't screw up on its sequels,and guess what it is,yep ace combat which is by far the best game series ever conceived by human beings,the reason of why this game is so awesome is simple(take a note that I'm a fan and therefore whatever I say next gets into the layer of fanboysm).

Its all down to how the game is told,and how it encourage you during gameplay,I been playing ace series and the game hasn't move an inch from its basis stablish 15 years ago,but anyone who has played ace combat will have a different favourite game of the series, because they always change the way that the game is told,in AC2 you have your standard history of aces mercenaries taking down a coup,this happens in a strangereal place called "strangereal",but the evolution of both the concept and the game made the series make huge jumps,for example they forgot everything about what they did about top gun in ace combat 2 and decided to make an anime based story with AC3(only in Japan)but this aspect made the series evolve in many many areas like storytelling and concepts,and didn't recycle any elements from previous ace combat games,just gameplay.

After that come the best game in the series which are AC04,AC5 and ACZero(coincidentally all in PS2),the thing about these games is they way of their storytelling structure respectably,and how they decided to provide the story of each game with relation of the previous game but without using direct elements implied,just the place(stragereal) and some events like the asteroids from AC4 and the belkan war in both AC5 and zero,for example in AC04 you were an ace pilot in a normal war between the same enemies not represented directly but equal and with their own original background,in AC4 they told the story in gameplay with the radio charter and the mission briefing,while at the other side of the conflict an child tells the story from one of the affected countries and its relation with its enemy,and is really well put together and structured,is like portal 1 in this regard.

Then you have the Ac5 game with a really good story which suits more a movie,almost all elements from the past game are taken away,then using the existing assets in creating yet another good story using both gameplay,radio charter,briefings and cinematics,a bit over dramatic but way better that what you find in shooter or war related games these days,there is no patriotism and all that bullshit that plague all shooters these days(I should have address this before ,not involving the US faction in war games is really good for storytelling),and the story is well told and well produce,in fact one of the best productions I have seen.

And then there is my favourite game of all,ace combat zero,the 6th game manage to be the best game, although some people consider AC5 the peak of the series I sustain that Zero manages the top of all games,the reason for this is the perfect integration between all elements,everything fit together,the player decisions did matter in gameplay and everything is beautify put together to create and amazing ending that have direct correlation with gameplay and story,a perfect ending for a videogame,nothing is overdone and the story is simple,and it uses the gameplay to max the experience like any other of the previous games(similar to Half life 2 in this respect)and its uses also the perfect storytelling production without involving any of the previous elements,just the place and the gameplay.

So,I disagree with Ben Yahtzee in the aspect of "no games with good continuity",there are games with terrific sequels(HL2 for example)the only issue with such games is to find them or to have a good original concept unexploited for its income,something that have become an standard in the industry,apparently,and designers hasn't manage to find out best creative ways to create stories based on the existing gamplay instead of story(like project aces did the last 15 years until they sort of cock it up with 6 but never mind,maybe AC assault horizon manages to be good but one huge barrier is the fact that US in it).

And yep,I like portal 1 more,it was more "cheesy" somehow.

DMC 3 in relation to number 2.

I've been trying to put words as to why Portal 2 didn't have much impact - you've nailed it.

I don't think it's a subjective opinion to state that a good story & concept loses its value for a second telling. It was impossible for Portal 2 to exceed its prequel by adding to an existing story.

The original plan was to make F-STOP, a game that had no portals and no Glados in it but still tied in with the original setting of Aperture science.

I am quite happy with the way Portal 2 turned out anyway, sure it will never be as surprising as the first one, but the story was good and Stephen Merchant's character is hilarious. Surely it does not quite expand the universe in any big way, but I think it stays true to the original story while exploring some new ground.

I see your points, but I think Valve managed to make a correct balance for this Portal 2. However, there's been already enough Glados for me, I hope if Portal 3 ever comes out, they explore something different. It's been a good ride anyway, it must not have been easy for the writers to achieve the balance needed to be funny for the whole duration of the game.

Choppaduel:

funguy2121:

Choppaduel:
snip

Your avatar. "Uncle Grandfather," from the Adult Swim mini Perfect Hair Forever. There may be a small chance I'm wrong and that it's the old dude from Dragon Ball but...excuse me, my dork is showing.

Anyway, in case you can't tell from his name, Uncle Grandfather (yes that implies exactly what you think it does) is a perv.

Actually, my avatar is Coiffio, the Evil Controller of Cats.

this is Uncle Grandfather

image

I just realized how off topic we are.

uhhhhh... GO YAHTZEE! YAY! you show those fanboys.

Does that include the cat-man (or is it the man-cat)?

2xDouble:
Case in point: Final Fantasy. Look at what happened when they stopped creating and started polling: Final Fantasy 12, 13, and 14... None of which deserve numerals. (XI doesn't either, but for different reasons. It's pretty good I guess, so I'll let it slide).

EDIT One thing though:

Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first. Let me help you out: there aren't any.

MegaMan 2 and 3.

To my knowledge Final Fantasy 12 was the exact opposite of what fans wanted and they completely departed from the usual method of terrible romance and writing.

I think Half-Life 2 is better than Half-Life. Does that count? I think that's the majority opinion there.

I like sequels in general. Finding out what happens next is always fun for me. I will admit though, sometimes they are done rather poorly.

I was actually talking about Portal 3 with a friend yesterday. I argued that the biggest job a "true" fan will do would be to accept that the franchise has ended. Afterwards I was branded a heretic.

Anyways, too tempted to resist, Idea of how Portal 2 story could have been modified:
I never was convinced when I ran through the old test chambers of the Aperture Facility, why didn't they just do a make-over of the old rooms instead of building a whole new complex each time? Perhaps that's why Cave Johnson went bankrupt.
I think it would have been neater if you played as one of these "War heroes" for when aperture science started: you survive the experiments, end up as a hobo, and in a twisted turn of events you end up getting dragged into the aperture labs during the 60's. It would make more sense and provide subtle hints to what led to the creation of glados, without being too over-bearing.

Did I prove your point Yahtzee? :)

Oh come on, are you seriously telling me you don't consider "Final Fantasy X-2" to be a masterpiece when held up next to "Final Fantasy X"?

funguy2121:

Choppaduel:

funguy2121:

Your avatar. "Uncle Grandfather," from the Adult Swim mini Perfect Hair Forever. There may be a small chance I'm wrong and that it's the old dude from Dragon Ball but...excuse me, my dork is showing.

Anyway, in case you can't tell from his name, Uncle Grandfather (yes that implies exactly what you think it does) is a perv.

Actually, my avatar is Coiffio, the Evil Controller of Cats.

this is Uncle Grandfather

image

I just realized how off topic we are.

uhhhhh... GO YAHTZEE! YAY! you show those fanboys.

Does that include the cat-man (or is it the man-cat)?

image

including but not limited to. Although, Catman does shoot Coiffio in one of the episodes.

hmmm something else on topic.... Yahtzee should have given a spoiler warning for the Portal 2 coop.

Woodsey:
The "surprise!" argument that's supposed to go in Portal's favour (fuck you Chrome, there is a U in there) doesn't really make sense to me - it seems to work on about the same logic as a game being deemed bad because of the unbearable amounts of hype. And as well all know, that's stupid.

As for Glados not being the same in Portal 2, its implied throughout Portal that she did murder everyone in the facility, whilst her methods to psychologically 'undermine' Chell remain about the same.

I can see the argument about story taking over, but I felt they were simply better balanced, and that the moments where the story 'interrupts' are actually moments used to pace the game and ease your puzzle-induced migraine.

And most people and fans are saying its better than the first.

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

Agreed. On all points. Even the Bioshock part.

That's like what, 6 of us?

Here is my theory on the great coin that is game innovation.

On one side, there is Innovation/Iteration. On the other is Gimmick/Cliche. Or maybe its 2 coins, Innovation/Gimmick, and Iteration/Cliche. Or maybe...whatever, you get the point.

All games have a little bit of all of the above. What games aspire to contain is innovation and iteration. Innovation is new, exciting ideas that havn't been tried before, and give the player a compelling new experience. Iteration is the use of tried and true approaches that give you a reason to expect that an idea will be enjoyable. Any good game will contain both. Lets take Portal, a universally loved game generally agreed upon to be a huge step forward in innovation. Well, there is still a healthy dose of the kind of iteration that makes people hate on sequels. For starters, there is Narbacular Drop. There was a continuation, and evolution, of pre-established ideas that had already been done elsewhere. Not only that, but it's Valve, you know they playtested the shit out of it before its release. In many ways a sequel is just a second draft of a game where the pool of playtesters includes everyone who bought and spoke out on the first game. What seperates the quality of Portal from a sequel that you hate lies in many things, but the virtue of being a sequel is not one of them. And of course, excellent sequels that excel because of the iteration of an idea still contain healthy doses of innovation. Half Life 2 continued the ideas of the original Half Life, and really most of the original pieces were still there. But it added new ideas, like the Gravity gun. The same pattern of mostly honeing a concept with a hint of new ideas is present in the countless excellent sequels that are better then the original, but it's a stickier area because popular sequels tend to be quite polarizing (Halo, Call of Duty, Starcraft, Bioshock...take whatever you like and look for the bits of innovation, and you will find your examples)

Where games fall short is where they become Cliche or Gimmicky. Cliche is where a game repeats what has been done before without adding anything compelling or new, while the gimmick adds in a new idea that just doesn't pass muster. What I need to point out here is that what separates a Gimmick from a true innovation is the spark of Innovations opposite, iteration. A gimmick falls short because it lacks the kind of testing and exploration that characterizes sequels, just as the iteration and polishing of an old idea without a bit of innovation turns into a cliche.

What to take from this? Well, we need to think about the shape of the games industry kind of like a recipe. When your making a cake, you can't say that eggs, milk, flour or sugar are bad. There all essential. In the same way, you need to have a mix of new IPs and ideas, and polished sequels. You need to explore old concepts more fully, and try new ideas. Simply decrying sequels as lazy will ruin one of video games biggest strengths. Yes, we need new IPs and need to explore new ideas, but we also need to remember that the best games out there are sequels.

It's more or less because of this this I like Dragon Age 2 and Final Fantasy 13. And it's because of this that the rest of the world hate them.

I think you could've found a better game than Portal 2 as an example. I see where you're coming from, but for a sequel Portal 2 did treated its characters well I feel. Even if they eventually make a Portal 3 I don't think I'll look back at Portal 2 and say "that's when it started to go downhill", unless there being a sequel at all counts towards that.

Brilliant article with one potential issue: it's important to recognize that "clueless fans" includes the focus groups who shape today's AAA sequels. I know a lot of people will read this Yahtzee piece and think to themselves, "Yeah, all those DA2 haters are a buncha idiots stuck in the past!", but that's definitely not the point here. A sequel that changes radically for the worse, at the behest of one subset of fans, is even worse than a sequel that merely retreads. The only "good" sequel is one that changes the way we think about an IP through quality additions/alterations to play mechanics and/or storytelling.

This is going to sound cruel, but I think videogame designers are a lot like movie directors, musicians, novelists, etc., in that there's no guarantee they will ever duplicate initial success. Sometimes a guy/gal really only has one or two interesting things to say/show/sing/write, and that's okay. It becomes not okay when they think they've got license to ram another half dozen rehashes (or outright turds) down our collective throats. Put another way: god bless the one-hit wonders who walk away.

Outright Villainy:

Woodsey:
The "surprise!" argument that's supposed to go in Portal's favour (fuck you Chrome, there is a U in there) doesn't really make sense to me - it seems to work on about the same logic as a game being deemed bad because of the unbearable amounts of hype. And as well all know, that's stupid.

As for Glados not being the same in Portal 2, its implied throughout Portal that she did murder everyone in the facility, whilst her methods to psychologically 'undermine' Chell remain about the same.

I can see the argument about story taking over, but I felt they were simply better balanced, and that the moments where the story 'interrupts' are actually moments used to pace the game and ease your puzzle-induced migraine.

And most people and fans are saying its better than the first.

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

Agreed. On all points. Even the Bioshock part.

That's like what, 6 of us?

7. Bioshock 2 was definitely better gameplay, and the story was a natural expansion of the original. The problem was that better or not, the type of people who put Bioshock on a pedestal generally did so because it was so different, and that type of person wasn't so willing to appreciate the polishing of an old idea as opposed to the exploration of a completely new one. I think that basically, though Bioshock 2 was better, it simply wasn't better enough for many people.

Sniper Team 4:
I think Half-Life 2 is better than Half-Life. Does that count? I think that's the majority opinion there.

I like sequels in general. Finding out what happens next is always fun for me. I will admit though, sometimes they are done rather poorly.

To say HL2 was 'better' I think is a stretch (they are equally good for different reasons IMO) but it pretty much proves that to make a genuinely great sequel you need to do something different.

The original HL was wonderful for too many reasons to go into, and to put it bluntly HL2 has nothing to do with the original besides some returning cast. Much as I think the plot of the second is a butt load weaker, moving to a completely new and different setting was the best possible move, introducing a completely new set of enemies, weapons and mechanics. In essence it's only a equal because they said it was. If it had been a completely new property it would be equally good tbh. Personally, I think it would have been better in places. The dialogue about the amazing world saving destiny driven Freeman felt comedically over-done and totally not in the spirit of the thing.

I'm not saying HL2 is bad at all. All the awesome new stuff in it made it an amazing game.

And that's how you need to build a sequel. Start off like your making a new game and judge it by those terms. If you were making a new game and ended up thinking 'But they did EXACTLY THAT in game x' then you need to put more in, and thats the same in a sequel. Yes its ok to keep a theme or style, but you must must must have something fresh.

Too many people think that a sequel should exclusively be more of the same, and they are bad people who should be ashamed.

You wanna know one of the best sequels ever made ? System shock 2. Why ? Because its one of the best games ever made.

A sequel should be just as awesome to people who never played the original as to people who did, and that means new unconnected story, fresh new weapons and enemies and new interesting setting. You nod to the first one, and then make your own game the way you wanted to make it anyway.

"Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first. Let me help you out: there aren't any."

proffesor layton.
phoenix wright, ace attorney.
and like some said, there are some of those games.

there are games who succeed to make a better story with the same characters and story idea. but they are with few. usely it are games which are heavily story-based.

Jedi Sasquatch:
Hooray for Animal Farm reference!

"FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD!" is still one of my favorite quotes to this day.

OT: Once again, I agree with Yahtzee. however, there is one game, however, that has proven to me that fan pleasing can really make a good game: Mortal Kombat (2011).
For years, fans have been asking for Mortal Kombat to return to the 2D fighting plane, alongside asking seperately for a bunch of things that made the series great so long ago. Finally, Ed Boon and Co. agreed, and made the new Mortal Kombat.
Honestly, I've never had this much fun with a Mortal Kombat game.

I enjoy both portal 1 and portal 2....but....

Portal 2 was fun for me, the co-op was something i really liked. the SP was enjoyable but what ruined it for me was one developer commentary box in chapter 9.

note: this is not an exact quote, but this is what they said: "We found that players at this point, would use the excursion funnel and then shoot the wrong portal at the panel, thus causing them to fall and die. we found players got frustrated at this, thinking they had shot the right portal. we made this foolproof by MAKING THE PORTAL SWITCH IF THEY SHOOT THE WRONG ONE thus making it so no matter what, they can't die"

WHAT THE FUCK! If you mess up and shoot the wrong portal ITS YOU'RE OWN DAMN FAULT, don't take this the wrong way but the game shouldn't be like "oh, you did something that would kill you? here let me just fix that, all better? here have a kiss on that booboo.." I don't want to be babied by the game because some people got frustrated.

Not that it should be overly punishing but i mean, come on. it's like if someone shot themselves in the head but the game fixed it by emptying the gun just before you pull the trigger...

its not like i want to die, quite the contrary, but if theres no way to fail whats the point of even playing? i did enjoy the game, yes, but after going through the dev commentary the single player was just ruined for me. i literally can't go play that again because of that.

castlewise:
The Yahtz is a critic and makes critic points. They aren't wrong by any means, but not _everything_ has to be this amazing work of art, and sometimes if you try to hard to be original you end up with a unique terrible game.

Case in point, compare Portal 2 to Mirrors Edge. Mirrors Edge was trying very hard to be original, to not be like other games, and it was kind of terrible because sometimes the conventions set up in other games are there for a reason. Portal 2 doesn't try to be original or new, but is an almost textbook example of good game design.

There is a place in my heart for good sequels. And there are good sequels, just compare Portal 2 to Bioshock 2.

Yahtzee's ragging on the story not the game design from what I can tell.

Ironically, this post seems to be mostly comprised of nerdrage fueled by a fanboy's massively unrealistic expectations being unmet.

Xanadu84:

Outright Villainy:

Woodsey:
The "surprise!" argument that's supposed to go in Portal's favour (fuck you Chrome, there is a U in there) doesn't really make sense to me - it seems to work on about the same logic as a game being deemed bad because of the unbearable amounts of hype. And as well all know, that's stupid.

As for Glados not being the same in Portal 2, its implied throughout Portal that she did murder everyone in the facility, whilst her methods to psychologically 'undermine' Chell remain about the same.

I can see the argument about story taking over, but I felt they were simply better balanced, and that the moments where the story 'interrupts' are actually moments used to pace the game and ease your puzzle-induced migraine.

And most people and fans are saying its better than the first.

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

Agreed. On all points. Even the Bioshock part.

That's like what, 6 of us?

7. Bioshock 2 was definitely better gameplay, and the story was a natural expansion of the original. The problem was that better or not, the type of people who put Bioshock on a pedestal generally did so because it was so different, and that type of person wasn't so willing to appreciate the polishing of an old idea as opposed to the exploration of a completely new one. I think that basically, though Bioshock 2 was better, it simply wasn't better enough for many people.

You are wrong and you should be ashamed. Bioshock was a good game because it was a fresh take on the DeusEx/System Shock approach to action RPGs. It had a good plot and lots of cool stuff to offer. Bioshock 2 was just more of the same. And that means it has no good ideas of its own.

If you came to Bioshock having never played its parents, then I can see why more of the same would work for you, because the shooter market is so generic and uninterested. If you have played interesting deeply involving games in the past, and Bioshock was just another installment, then tbh Bioshock came very close to not delivering (lack of balance, irritating scavenger hunts, stupid thing with photos etc) and stole a lot of its good parts and just added a new paint scheme. And that's why Bioshock 2 was dreadful. Because if Bioshock was stealing, number 2 was ram raiding.

The reason glados changed was because most of the behaviour-controlling sphere's died after you murdered them, plus because of

and I don't agree with you on some points, I had million times as much fun with portal 2 once than playing portal 1 ten times

That is up for debate. While the game has stronger mechanics in some areas, some have argued that it is so easy that compared to the first game its just a button masher. And that it has QTEs that are more stupid than the average ones since it involves only the triangle button, which makes it more button mashing.And as for the story, while u have a valid point others can say that sora has no real character growth compared to the first one. And that goofy and donald feel more like they're just along for the ride than the first one, which had at least a few moments here and there (i.e donald arguing with sora in deep jungle, donald and goofy defending sora at hollow bastion) so its a matter of perspective on that one.

hawk533:
Wow, a 3 pager. Very nice.

OT: Video game sequels really should only be used to indicate that the game uses some of the same mechanics, while delivering a new story every time.

Though it has to be said, I enjoyed Kingdom Hearts 2 better than Kingdom Hearts. The mechanics were much tighter and the story really was better. You had an actual group you were fighting against that had multiple people with differing perspectives on their objectives instead of a single person vaguely hinted at throughout the game that doesn't even show his face until the end.

That is up for debate. While the game has stronger mechanics in some areas, some have argued that it is so easy that compared to the first game its just a button masher. And that it has QTEs that are more stupid than the average ones since it involves only the triangle button, which makes it more button mashing.And as for the story, while u have a valid point others can say that sora has no real character growth compared to the first one. And that goofy and donald feel more like they're just along for the ride than the first one, which had at least a few moments here and there (i.e donald arguing with sora in deep jungle, donald and goofy defending sora at hollow bastion) so its a matter of perspective on that one.

I don't see what the big issue is with sequals. Sure with films it can get pretty silly (Police Academy 7!) but if done right games can reinvent the original. I think the Dawn of War games are a pretty good example of this, the first just had one campagin and four races but was still a good game. The sequal was mostly the same but featured another race added, and then Dark Crusade arrived and featured seven campagins, was third in the series and is still one of my all time favourite RTS's - in my opinion better than the original.

I really think that Ubisoft needs to read this. they need to let Ezio and Altair go.

Someone above had said something like "Too bad fans are the ones with the money" and I couldn't agree more.

Devs are having to sacrifice things like creativity and originality to cater to us assholes who demand more of the same thing in a sequel, and then proceed to bitch when it turns out inferior to the original. People are bullshit.

Let's have a renaissance I say. All the way back to the good ol' days of cave paintings. I'm betting THOSE artists didn't whore themselves out, trading their values for a buck.

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