10 Best Game Sequels Of All Time
10. Fallout 3
“War. War never changes…” but Fallout did. The original Fallout (1997) was actually a sequel of sorts, loosely based on the world of Wasteland (1988), but Interplay Entertainment were unable to get their hands on the rights. Interplay also had to redesign what was to become the SPECIAL system when Steve Jackson Games, a popular tabletop game maker, wouldn’t allow them to use the old-school system.
Fortunately, with it’s own identity and redesigned innards, Fallout was a big success, with critics praising it’s style, humour, storyline and free choice gameplay. Unsurprisingly a sequel was on the cards, with Fallout 2 landing just a year later, giving fans more of the same but not really developing the gameplay. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001) and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004) came later but deviated from the original format.
Fans of the original games had to wait until 2008 for a true sequel, but they weren’t disappointed. Fallout 3 clung to many conventions of the originals, such as using an open-world where players make moral decisions and choose how to approach quests, but it also reinvented the game into real-time and introduced V.A.T.S to bridge the gap between action and turn-based play.
Traversing the wasteland had never looked and felt so realistic, but it was still stylistically and viscerally similar to the originals. The game radiated the humour and depth of character from its predecessors to keep fans of the series satisfied, but also attracted a legion of newcomers, creating a legacy that would continue on through Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4.
9. Fable 2
Fable was another game that gave players moral choices, but used them to define how ‘good’ or ‘evil’ a player’s hero would be. Players had a constantly changing alignment that moved depending on the actions they took, such as saving villagers (positive) or killing villagers (negative). These choices even changed the appearance of the player. Be a good guy and you’d develop a halo and bright features, be the total opposite and you’d grow horns and have glowing red eyes. Fable presented good and evil in a simplistic way that made every action have a consequence. That, combined with fun combat and a great fairytale-like plot, made it a great game.
Fable 2 managed to take the series to the next level, developing the idea that every action has a consequence. ‘Purity’ and ‘corruption’ created a new scale to go alongside ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and actions such as eating certain foods or levelling up stats now changed the appearance of your character.
“What else did Lionhead Studios add”, you ask?
Prostitutes and a dog is the answer. Prostitutes were part of the extended relationship functions which also let you have children with your spouse, and the doggie was a faithful companion who would help you out in combat and find treasure. Add co-operative play into the mix and Fable 2 had enough about it to be a worthy successor of the Fable lineage. Fable 3 would be more monarchical fun but was hampered by simplified gameplay and repetitive quests that sadly disappointed many.
8. Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil (1996) was the beginning of the survival horror genre, or at the very least was the first game to be called a survival horror. Other games have been retrospectively given the title but Resident Evil was the true first. Set in a creepy secluded mansion, members of a special police group called S.T.A.R.S were trapped by flesh eating zombies and various other nasties, after investigating the disappearance of the rest of their team.
The game combined simple but effective combat with interesting puzzles, a compelling story, and gameplay that was genuinely scary. After it’s massive success there was no doubt that there would be a sequel and frustrated fans had to be pacified by the release of Resident Evil: Directors Cut in 1997 before the delayed release of Resident Evil 2 (RE2) a year later. Thankfully, RE2 was awesome.
Using similar mechanics to that of the original, RE2 got the Hollywood treatment. Taking place in Raccoon City, located near the mansion of the original game, the game presented a sprawling city overrun by zombies and other terrible creatures (Remember that WTF moment when you saw the first licker? Ew).
Everything was bigger and better in RE2: bigger environments, bigger story, better graphics, better animations, and there was more of the good stuff: guns, monsters and scary moments. All in all it was an epic adventure that was like playing through a zombie film. Survival horror proved it was not a one-off, and the success of this game made sure Resident Evil would dominate the genre for the next twenty years.
7. Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake virtually invented the idea of stealth in video games. Originally it was only used because the MSX2’s hardware couldn’t handle the amount of combat Director Hideo Kojima wanted, but turned out to be a masterstroke. Metal Gear was characterised by it’s stealth play and Hollywood themed characters and plot, pitting Solid Snake against a giant robot after which the game is named and an army of nasty mercenaries in a secretive facility.
Set eight years after the events of Metal Gear 2, the plot of Metal Gear Solid was much the same as Solid Snake infiltrated another mysterious facility and destroyed another giant robot. The familiar plot gave the game an instant connection to the originals, and when combined with the same kind of stealth gameplay, created an experience that thrust the Metal Gear world gloriously into 3D.
This game was all about stealth and clever improvisation: hiding round corners, climbing through vents, using a cigarette to see laser wires, it was all ingeniously crafted into a realistic espionage adventure. Metal Gear Solid even made hiding in cardboard boxes fun. For better or worse, that’s something that can’t be said about any other game.
6. Grand Theft Auto 3
No video games list would be complete without a game from the blockbuster Grant Theft Auto (GTA) series. After the success of the 3D GTA games it’s easy to forget that the first two games in the series were top down affairs, looking very different to the newer titles. Nevertheless GTA (1997) and GTA 2 (1999) contain elements that will be familiar to those who have played the later games, such as the open gameplay, wanted level, mission structure and criminal themes. The games did well and attracted many fans, despite protestations that they were overly violent and encouraged crime.
GTA 3 is probably just as well judged by how unhappy it kept its critics, as it is on how happy it kept its fans. Much of the violence was the same as the previous games but the realism with which it was presented in GTA 3 caused increased outrage. This attests to how well the game translated into 3D and how real it looked and felt.
The main success of the game though was due to it’s great gameplay, a combination of third-person shooting and driving that was almost like two games in one. Add to that a quality story and a massive world to roam about in, and GTA 3 didn’t just keep fans happy but exceeded their expectations.
5. Half-Life 2
In 1998, the original Half-Life revolutionised first person shooters by offering a new type of immersive gameplay that hadn’t been seen before. By presenting a compelling story from the viewpoint of unlikely hero Dr. Gordon Freeman and refusing to use cut scenes or divisive levels, Half-Life managed to make players feel part of the interactive world around them. Developers Valve even used puzzles to get players more involved with the in-game environment, something that no other shooter had attempted before. Seriously, no game since Doom had brought more to the table for the first-person shooter genre.
That’s why, when Half-life 2 was about to be released in 2004 after a five year $40 million development, there was a huge amount of hype. The possibility of the sequel soiling the legacy of the Black Mesa Facility was worrying but Valve managed to pull it out of the bag and produce another multi-game of the year winning title. Sticking to the gameplay foundations that were laid by the original, Half-Life 2 used the impressive Source engine to build a new world in which the human race has been enslaved by the Combine, an alien race who invaded after being made aware of earth by the Black Mesa event.
This wasn’t just a pretty update however, Half-Life 2 built on everything that made the original such a great game: the storyline, the immersion, the exciting combat, and most importantly, hitting headcrabs with a crowbar.
4. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Okay, so technically this is prequel as it’s set 25 years before the events of Deus Ex, but it’s a game that fans of the original were waiting for after the slightly disappointing Deus Ex: Invisible War. It wouldn’t be totally fair to say that Invisible War let fans down; it was much of the same after the original, but Human Revolution is the true sequel that didn’t disappoint.
Managing to juggle free choice with a strong storyline, Human Revolution let you play as Adam Jensen, a security officer at Human Augmentation specialists Sarif Industries. Jensen is to investigate a terrorist attack on one of Sarif’s headquarters, giving players the job of unravelling the conspiracies and dealing with the ethical implications.
Careful cover based combat gelled seamlessly with the use of augmentations to create a thoroughly enjoyable gameplay experience. Human Revolution stuck to the same combination of free-choice RPG, action and shooting that had everyone hooked on the original, but after eleven years brought the game right up to date.
3. Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect followed Commander Shepard on an epic adventure through the galaxy in a bid to save The Citadel, an alliance of races, from the threat of the mysterious Reapers. The game was very successful because of it’s combination of role-playing elements, frantic combat and player-adapted storyline. What could be better than romping about space in a cool spaceship, saving the world and making some lovely alien friends along the way?
The story was the game’s strongest point, and was always intended to be continued in sequels, but that didn’t mean BioWare had an easy job when creating Mass Effect 2, as fans were dying to get their hands on more of their own Shepard’s story. To their credit, BioWare refrained from quickly throwing together a new game, picking up the story where the first Mass Effect left off, and spent much of the three year development improving things such as the inventory screen, shooting mechanics and weapons.
Mass Effect 2 continued the first game’s great mythology that made players feel like they were inside the world on screen, and also made the entire narrative feel more personal to the player, going as far as to allow decisions made in the first game change things in the second. Fans were able to continue to play out their universe-saving fantasies in a game that was arguably even better than the first.
2. BioShock Infinite
Who can forget Rapture, the dystopian underwater city full of crazed looneys driven on by their thirst for ADAM, a genetic material that grants superhuman abilities?
BioShock was a first-person shooter with a difference, it wasn’t just: “Go this way and kill everything.” It was more like “Go this way and choose how to kill everything.” Sure, it was fun to go about shocking enemies with a plasmid and then whacking them with a wrench, but the game also made you feel like you were inside the creepy Rapture, through its survival horror elements and rich environment. It dragged you in with its great storyline and periodically threw up a moral choice, such as killing or saving the ‘Little Sister’ NPCs.
BioShock 2 arrived three years later as a direct sequel, filling in much more of the story behind the first and making unspectacular but solid improvements on the original game’s elements. BioShock Infinite however, was more of a risk, its new setting and storyline being unrelated to BioShock 1 and 2 (at least in theory, spoiler-lovers). Thankfully, Irrational Games nailed it, giving fans of the series an experience that was similar yet separate from the originals.
The flying city of Columbia created a living environment that was fresher and more open than Rapture, holding sinister terrors under the surface whilst retaining a steampunk style. The idea of the dystopian dictatorship was revisited but reimagined with a little less insanity and moral choices were built upon, with player decisions affecting storylines (in theory) alongside having more variety. In short, BioShock Infinite gave fans a game that introduced a huge new setting and storyline, but played and felt like the same ominous world of BioShock 1 and 2.
1. Final Fantasy II-X, XII & XIII
Is there any other series out there that repeatedly banged out hits and consistently satisfied fans? The original, so the story goes, was designed by Hironobu Sakaguchi of Square in a bid to capitalise on the success of Enix’s Dragon Quest, but was seen as a last ditch attempt for both Square and Sakaguchi. Square were facing bankruptcy until the commercial success from Final Fantasy kept them afloat and allowed them to continue making games to this day. Apparently, that’s why the name was changed from Fighting Fantasy (although that name was scrapped because of fears it would breach copyright over a series of roleplay gamebooks) to Final Fantasy, the seemingly final hurrah by both designer and company.
Getting a couple of sequels right would have been impressive, but to get eleven (XI and XIV were online and had their detractors, but XII and XIII did very well) is amazing, and testament to the format of the series. The secret to Final Fantasy’s success may lie in the way it uses similar elements and themes in all of its instalments, but also implements brave changes in gameplay.
Anyone familiar with a Final Fantasy game will know what a chocobo is, or know that the basic story is a group of adventurers trying to save the world, but every game creates its own identity with a new story and a big gameplay change every time. For example, most new Final Fantasy games include a new way to level up your characters, or in later instalments a whole new battle system. This mix of familiar themes and exciting gameplay changes for every release has helped Square keep Final Fantasy fans happier than most other gamers, and long may it continue!
#10 Best Game Sequels Of All Time