The fall gaming blitz will soon be underway, meaning youre running out of time to prime yourself for all the potential blockbusters. Multiple titles may have been pushed to early next year, but there are more than enough major games to be excited for and surprise! many of them are sequels. These new entries in long-running franchises might confuse some out there that skipped previous titles, so for those that want to get ready for the coming storm, well take you through which older games to get acquainted with, as well as what to play after that if you have the free time.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
What you should have played first: Transformers: War for Cybertron
There had been many Transformers games over the years, but none had the right mix of fan service and quality gameplay until the first title in the Cybertron series. A prequel the original cartoon from the 80s, War for Cybertron treated the mythology with respect while filling the game with clever winks and references to more than 25 years of history. A clever shooter built around the multiple vehicles types you can transform into, Wars best asset was how promising its probable sequel will be. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron will hopefully be the payoff of that promise, and youll no doubt enjoy it more if you see how the high stakes war turned into the destruction of the home world of the Autobots and Decepticons.
The next step: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
After completing War for Cybertron you might be curious what developer High Moon Studios could do with the same game engine but considerably less time. Turns out you get the movie tie-in for the third Transformers film, which was pretty average, but is at least twice as good as the film that inspired it.
What you should have played first: Hitman: Blood Money
The devs have gone on record that Hitman: Absolution isnt a straight sequel to the last game, but theyve also said it isnt a total reboot, merely a simpler starting point. No matter how friendly Absolution is meant to be for new players, playing first Blood Money still has benefits for noobs. Itll introduce you to Hitmans logical shooter gameplay and the world of Agent 47, including his handler Diana Burnwood, a character that seems pretty important to Absolution. Also, if you play Blood Money on the 360, you can see just how far the system has come in the five years since Agent 47 first came to the console.
The next step: Hitman: Contracts
If youre dying to efficiently kill more targets after Blood Money, Contracts non-linear collection of missions is the next logical step provided you can find a copy of it (Contracts isnt on Steam for some strange reason). Plus, when youve finished Contracts you might be able to finally understand the complicated timeline of the Hitman games that preceded it.
What you should have played first: Darksiders
On the outside, some may have scoffed at Darksiders, dismissing it for being so clearly influenced by Legend of Zelda. But if you could overcome that seeming lack of originality, youd find a grand, post-apocalyptic adventure that starts with the end of the world and goes from there. Playing as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War explores the ruined world, out to prove his innocence in the fall of man. In an interesting twist for a sequel, Darksiders II stars a different Horseman, Death, and takes place at basically the same time as the first game. Youll run into multiple characters and situations that War also encountered, so itll be an extra treat if you actually recognize them thanks to doing your homework ahead of time.
The next step: God of War 3
Unlike most of the entries on the list, theres only one previous entry in the series to catch up on, so if youre looking for more you need to think outside the box. Gameplay-wise Darksiders II has more than a little in common with the God of War games, so the finale to that trilogy is a good place to get used to the controls.
What you should have played first: Halo 3
Halos original developer Bungie may be out of the game, but the saga of the Master Chief continues with Halo 4, thanks to 343 Studios. With this in mind, if you want to be all caught up with this military sci-fi epic, put Halo 3 directly on your must-play list. The game opens with the Chiefs crash landing (does he make any other kind of landing?) in east Africa. He and the UNSC forces push back against the remaining Covenant forces. The High Prophet of Truth has his sights set on a Forerunner artifact hidden amongst the remains on New Mombasa, and if theres one thing we know about Forerunner artifacts, its that the Covenant shouldnt have them. Also, if you really want to nerd out on Halo lore, check out , the prequel comic to Halo 3.
The next step: Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST both have merits, but as prequels, theyre a tad inessential if you just want to catch up on the plot. This HD remake of the original Halo however, is not only where the story began, it was 343 Studios first gig in the Halo universe. Itll serve as a fine primer to that studios approach to the series.
Pokemon Black/White 2
What you should have played first: Pokmon Black & White
Some gamers may allege that every new Pokmon entry is just a rehash of the previous game, but true Poke fans know better. The best core titles in the RPG franchise refresh the pocket monsters with a sense of newness was especially present in 2010s Back and White, thanks in no small part to an impressively deep plot that featured cults and conspiracies, asking tough questions about the very nature of Pokemon that had never been dealt with before by the series. Black/White is worth playing for the story alone, but if you plan on playing Pokmon Black & White 2, youll need it for story background, since B/W2 is a rare direct sequel for the franchise, taking place three years after the last game. And for added incentive, having an original B/W save unlocks multiple items and secrets in the sequel.
The next step: Pokmon Conquest
As long as youre waiting for the real thing, playing this engaging strategy game spin-off will not only give you new insight into Japanese history, but it also underlines the importance of type differences in battles. Each nation in this reimagining of Nobunagas Ambition represents one type of Pokemon, so you have to quickly grow accustomed to all the type difference or youll never make any progress.
Resident Evil 6
What you should have played first: Resident Evil 4
Unlike most games on this list, you cant simple jump back to the previous numbered entry to get ready for Resident Evil 6. The story of RE6 involves characters from all over the RE franchise, but many of them are from Resident Evil 4, particularly Leon S Kennedy, Ada Wong and their complicated relationship. Play the recently re-released HD version of RE4 not only to reacquaint yourself with the stakes of the series, but also to get your first hints to how bioterrorism evolved in the fourth game and Leons unique arrangement with the US government. Plus RE4s emphasis on a scary atmosphere will prepare you for RE6s return to the shadows.
Some might think you should go back to RE2 to see where Leon and Adas story began (along with RE6 co-star Sherry Birkin), but that game looks pretty archaic today. Youd be better off with these entertaining light gun games that retell the plot of RE2 with current gen graphics and CG cut scenes.
What you should have played first: Borderlands
We dont need James Camerons help to revisit this Pandora. Borderlands 2 promises a return to an alien world free of creepy blue kitty people, and plenty of Diablo-style weapons looting. There are just oodles and oodles of guns in these games. Its not a series known entirely for plot, though its macabre sense of humor certainly turned a few heads. Instead of boning up on story continuity, play some of the original Borderlands and make a few friends to party with in the sequel. If ever a game was built for online co-op, this is one of them.
The next step: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC
Part of what made the original Borderlands thrive was the steady stream of expansion packs 2K Games released. If we had to pick one, wed go with Dr. Ned and his island. It introduces a nice big outdoor map, with plenty of branching areas to explore. Youll be blasting WereSkags and zombies until Borderlands 2 arrives on shelves.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
What you should have played first: Call of Duty: Black Ops
With Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 primed to take the series into a frightening future full of drone warfare and a bombed-out LA (take that 405 traffic!), the place to start is with the original Black Ops. Set in the 1960s, it concerns controversial moments in modern warfare, such as the Bay of Pigs and that whole Cold War thing. Obviously, it lacks the sci-fi elements that will likely define the gameplay of Black Ops 2, but its cold, cynical approach to history and militarism will definitely be reflected in the tone of its sequel. It also has character continuity! If you want to know who the old man in the wheelchair is in that trailer, Black Ops is the game you need to play.
The next step: Battlefield 3
Sure, we could recommend Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, but thats so obvious. If youre anticipating a new CoD at all, youre probably playing that game already. Right now. At this very second. So why not pick up the other big-budget military shooter? That way you can participate thoughtfully in the inevitable intelligent discourse/raging flame war that will erupt in the comments of our Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 review. Sound good? Its a date!
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
What you should have played first: Disney Epic Mickey
Disney Epic Mickey is Disney fan service on a level that even the most optimistic Mickey lover would never have dared to dream of. Honestly, we thought the Mouse House wouldve put Song of the South on Blu-Ray before it hired Warren Spector (the creator of Deus Ex, you philistine) to make a Mickey Mouse game. But they did, and it was a glorious Wii exclusive. Now weve got a sequel on the way, the multi-platform Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, which will feature co-op between Mickey and the once forgotten Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. If you want to know why Mickey working with Oswald is such a big development (from a story perspective), theres literally nowhere else to begin but the original Epic Mickey.
The next step: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
If youve played the original Epic Mickey and crave yet another awesome game starring the worlds most famous rodent, start scouring eBay or other, less legitimate sources, for a copy of this Sega Genesis classic. It wont be easy to find, but it will serve as a fine precursor to Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, the upcoming 3DS side-scroller that harkens back to Mickeys 2D days. Maybe try looking in grandmas basement?
Assassin's Creed III
What you should have played first: Assassins Creed II
Though the whole conspiracy angle of the Creed games might seem so dense that you should start from with the first game, the second title gets you up to speed on that so quickly that you may as well start there. Plus its a much better game anyway. Fixing most of the rough areas of the first game, ACII introduced a new leading man, the beauty of the Renaissance, and much improved pacing to the franchise, making Assassins Creed the AAA series it intended to be. You experience decades of Ezios life while also watching significant progress happen in the present storyline featuring ACs overall protagonist Desmond. Once youve explored the rooftops of Italy and stabbed hundreds of people, youll be ready for whats in Assassin's Creed III, though you might have some lingering questions about Desmond (trust us, you wont get those answers in the next two games).
The next step: Assassins Creed Brotherhood
If by the end of ACII youve become so attached to Ezio that youd like to see his story and his battles against the Pope continue, Brotherhood is the next logical step. The story might not be as good as the previous games, but Brotherhood deepens the gameplay impressively with an expanded city building mode and the ability to create your own collective of assassins.