Usually when new IP’s are created, if they are well received and sell well they become a franchise that spawn a new series. More often than not, the sequel to the first instalment tend to be the best in the series, thought I’d share some of the best to have come out in recent years.
Assassins Creed 2
The first Assassins Creed had a lot of hype around it, Ubisoft set some really high expectations for their new IP, and while the game was good it didn’t quite hit the heights many it expected it to. After listening to feedback from critics and fans alike. Assassins Creed 2, delivered the game that the people wanted.
We were introduced to an interesting Protagonist in Ezio, taking place at the height of the Renaissance in Italy during the 15th and early 16th century. Players were able given the freedom to explore Florence, Venice, Tuscany and Forlì. While Assassins Creed plots have always been quite convoluted, the story surrounding Ezio himself was a simple premise of him trying to avenge the death of his family. The game had a variety of different quests, that would then become a stable in future installments, the game looked amazing to look at and the combat was refined and made much more fluid and emphasised the aspect of being an Assassin.
Furthermore, players were able to customise the appearance of Ezio and modify weapons, and there was a heavy emphasis of staying hidden from the enemies and manipulating your surroundings to your advantage. There were also Prince of Persia like dungeons, to further unlock rare items and treasures. Co-incidentally the game spawned a mini trilogy in the series known as the Ezio trilogy, the follow ups weren’t quite game changer as Assassins 2, but were still great games in their own right. Assassins Creed 2, still remains the highest rated game in the Assassins Creed franchise.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
The original Super Mario Galaxy, was incredible and rightly winning many Game of the Year Awards in 2007. Which was one of the greatest years in gaming history, so with such an impressive feat achieved, how could Nintendo make an even better follow up?
Its simple, create a Masterpiece.
That is exactly what Nintendo did, we thought the developers had already shown us how much fun you can do running around on Spherical platforms in the forms of small planets, while jumping across one star to another and traversing huge land masses with varying gravity effects. But with the sequel, they showed they had only scratched the surface.
Each level you played on, played differently to the last and the sheer amount of variety was outstanding. Furthermore, Nintendo brought Yoshi to join in on the fun. He played completely different to Mario and Luigi and re vamped the 3D platforming once again, offering a more faster and direct approach to the levels you played in him as.
The game also fixed the camera issues that plagued the original, and introduced more power up suits for Mario. The Hub world was changed back to the more traditional Mario design, making the experience more streamline. You spent less time running around aimlessly, instead you went from one level to another in a moments notice. Lastly there were also challenge modes within levels that you had played in. Where the difficulty was increased for the seasoned platformers, and an opportunity to gain further stars for completion.
Mass Effect 2
This game is the best game in the Mass Effect franchise, Bioware have struggled to create a game to achieve its accolades since. There are plenty of reasons why, and I could go on forever explaining each point.
Lets put it like this: Deep and engaging story? check. Excellent third person shooter gameplay? check. Great graphics with consistent frame rate and minimal technical issues? check. For those who played the original, they were able to carry their save over to the sequel, meaning the actions and decisions they took in the previous game would effect their experience in the second. Which meant gamers were getting different experiences to each other, it enticed players to make multiple saves and try all the different decisions and see what outcomes came of them.
Bioware also introduced the excellent loyalty missions, where you would go on a personal quest with each member of your crew. Which you would unlock, by talking to them in between quests and finding out about them on a more deeper level. Luckily each member of crew, were memorable and felt like an asset to your team, and there were also a return of fan favourites from the original.
While some of the streamlining of the RPG mechanics weren’t an entire hit with the fans, mainly with the loot system. Overall it delivered a great Space Opera for fans of the genre. The Suicide mission at the end of the game, was epic and really emphasised all the steps and decisions you made throughout to get to that point.
Like seriously, you can either complete it with all your crew surviving. Or potentially everyone and including yourself dying..
Need For Speed Underground 2
13 years on, fans are still asking for an underground 3 or at the very least a re-mastered edition. That is how highly this game is regarded and personally for me my favourite Need for Speed game.
There have been many Need for Speed games since, but none have reached the level of customisation you had available as underground 2. From paint jobs, body kits, all the way to adding Hydraulics customising the HUD to even adding speakers in the boot. Unlike the reboot in 2015, every car that you brought had the same high level of customisability. You didn’t have a large car roster, but you still had a variety of different brands, but ultimately it was about owning a handful of cars and making them as unique as possible.
The game was the first in the franchise, to have an open world and you would unlock different areas as you progress through the story. The narrative was simple enough, but added to the motives of the player. You had a ton of different race types: Circuit, drifting, Street X, and sprint to name a few. The game had a killer soundtrack and even added extra stuff like featuring your car in street magazines and challenging rival racers as you drive around the map.
I’m still hoping for an Undergound 3, please EA give the fans what they want!
Batman Arkham City
Even-though I hold Arkham Asylum as my favourite in the series, mostly for nostalgic reasons. I cannot deny that this was the best game in the series, with the sheer level of quality content that Rocksteady studios gave us with the sequel.
Firstly you had the open world map, with tons of side quests, collectibles/riddles and variety of locals. You had more villains, although some got to shine more than others. A much deeper plot, with few twists and an ending that you couldn’t have seen coming. The excellent gameplay from the first, was tweaked and added a deeper level to the combat mechanics, and The Dark Knight had even more gadgets to play with.
For those who bought the game brand new, got to play as Cat Woman too. She played a lot different to Batman and added another element to the game but also had a part to play in the story, there were more challenge maps both for stealth and combat.
Usually people say less is more, but in this case more was indeed more. There is so much to do in this game, you will spend a lot more hours even after completing the main plot. It wasn’t just a game for Batman fans, but fans of open world games too.
The first Uncharted, showed a lot of promise. The sequel showed what the Playstation 3 is really capable of, and raised the bar for not only third person action adventure games, but also for games that want to offer cinematic gameplay.
It was from this game, talks about making a movie based off the IP began, it was this game that bought in those scripted disaster moments, where players had to run, jump and time their movements to avoid death and making those near escapes in moments. The gameplay was nothing new in terms of enemy combat, but it was refined and engaging and just kept you playing and having fun.
The story was Indiana Jones esc, and we really got to know Drake as a character and what he is really like as a person. Him along with the rest of the cast were very likeable and well voice acted. Uncharted 3 and 4 were also top games in their own right, but for me number 2 still remains my favourite. But honestly they are all brilliant games, and Uncharted 2 is where it showed what the franchise is all about.
Those are some of my favourite video game sequels, what were yours? I would love to know!