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The Top 7... sequels that improved nothing

Games are a medium of iteration, not revolution. We just have to accept that. That's why the people who make them are called game developers, not game pioneers or game wizards. Solid design is a case of building upon what went before and improving it with new ideas and new tech. That's what sequels are for. Sometimes though, no-one rememers that.

Either a sequel doesn't change enough, or the changes it makes are misguided enough to detract as much as they add. Those are the sort of games we're talking about here, so read on and point your most accusing fingers as we name and shame.

7. Soul Calibur IV

Attempted improvements: Insta-kill Critical Finishers, Star Wars characters, Ivy’s ever-more traumatised spine

But it’s on this list because: Soul Calibur IV was a case of prettier, bigger, shiner, and very little else. By part IV, Soul Calibur’s slick, accessible torso-filleting was pretty much perfected, but rather than overhauling things in any significant way for the next generation, Namco took the safe option and just HD-ed the crap out of it.

The combat was the same, augmented only by a breakable armour system and some massive finishing moves, and in practice they didn’t really change anything at all. The window of opportunity and circumstances necessary to trigger the finishers meant that they rarely ever became a practical factor in fights, and while we’d be cynical to say that the breakable armour was really only there so that you could strip the female fighters mid bout, we are cynical, and the breakable armour was really only there so that you could strip the female fighters mid-bout.

But even worse was what Soul Calibur IV gimped from previous iterations. Soul Calibur III’s character creation mode returned, but with considerably less options in terms of weapon disciplines. And more upsettingly, the traditional story mode (the absolute meat of SC II and III’s single-player component) was replaced with the dull-as-matt-finished-gravel Tower of Lost Souls. Which basically consisted of fighting a load of increasingly hard dudes over a very long period of time.

Also, Yoda was in it. Why the f*ck was Yoda in it?

6. Resistance 2

Attempted improvements: Bigger scale, a move to America, expanded multiplayer

But it’s still on this list because: Those bullet points unfortunately skirted around most of the original Resistance’s main problems. While Resistance 2 had some genuinely impressive – and huge – set-pieces, its core shooting just wasn’t inspired enough to stand up to the greatly-improved competition. It wasn’t as tight as Call of Duty 4, wasn’t as tactical as Gears of War, and lacked the AI of Halo 3.

The fact is that for all of the spectacle, Insomiac’s core combat model still wasn’t sophisticated or satisfying enough. And ironically, one of the moves intended to make up for that – the move from the small towns and historic cities of England to the skyscrapers of the USA – succeeded mainly in robbing the series of its unique personality.

Resistance 2’s stronger multiplayer showing certainly helped, with the 60-player, objective-based games and eight-player co-op filling out the press release quite impressively, but sadly, all of the effort put into them seemed to have detracted heavily from any much-needed improvements in Resistance’s core gameplay. And at the end of the day, that’s the stuff that really matters.

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Top 7

67 comments

  • ShokuaHyuga - October 14, 2010 6:14 a.m.

    The most dissapointing sequel I've ever come across; Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution. All they did was take Clash of Ninja 3 and give it Wii controls, and add some pointless characters.
  • D0CCON - October 11, 2010 11:29 p.m.

    Sorry for the double post but scratch that. I just thought of Destroy All Humans. Oh, and FF7. Crap, this is easier than I thought.
  • D0CCON - October 11, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    I know it was released after this list was made, but Crackdown 2 felt worse than its predecessor, which is one hell of a feat I must say. Normally sequels can get at least .01% better, but I never thought they'd get worse.
  • JosefMotley - September 26, 2010 1:15 p.m.

    and the boosting is exactly the same as it is in every mario kart game as far as i'm concerned. the difference is purely aesthetic - you don't jump anymore - but the implementation is identical
  • JosefMotley - September 26, 2010 1:13 p.m.

    oops i just realised 4 months later that i meant to say "i will never understand anyone who thought mario KART 64 was a good game" not mario 64. my apologies. (both overrated though)
  • masternoone - June 4, 2010 5:12 a.m.

    i totally agree, all the dynasty warriors games are the same, BUT i do enjoy each new one. even though the gameplay is extremely similar if not the same, they always redo the story and almost always redo every characters attacks. i enjoy working on each character to final level, and when its all done, get the next game. its like replaying the first, but everything is different. if a game is good, why improve it? dynasty warriors is a game that cant really be improved. theres nothing to add. while it does belong on this list, i dont think its fair to say that its a bad thing that its not improved. just think of it as one game in 8 different installments. its like l4d2, gameplay is the same, but with new characters, enemies and weapons, and better graphics. i dont know about you guys, but im pretty sure thats what i want in a sequel. a sequel should be like an expansion on the original, not a completely different game. try new things in new titles, not sequels.
  • Clovin64 - May 27, 2010 6:35 p.m.

    Dont be so hard on Soul Calibur IV! The breakable armour option was an incredibly significant addition! For teenage boys at least lol. But your right, the singleplayer modes were a bit pants. And yes, Sheva is incredibly stupid. And yes, DMC2 sucked big hairy Dante balls.
  • avantguardian - May 26, 2010 12:20 p.m.

    to add a little, i think a lot of people's negative feelings towards these games stems from them not reaching expectations...this is more evident in games that are making a generational transition(such as double dash-yes there is boosting, i'm sorry it's just not the same), than games like MUA2, which doesn't seem like you really would expect too much improvement...they should almost be treated as separate lists; people expect to be wowed when they get a current gen(or is it next-gen?) version of a beloved series, and are disappointed when they're not...some people who don't own an older system or have a similar feeling of nostalgia for certain games may not understand criticism of current versions of games that they see no problems with...but i also like to think that we gamers over-think things a bit...so, ya, whatever..
  • avantguardian - May 26, 2010 11:55 a.m.

    @josefmotley: i don't make a point of commenting on games that i've never played...that's just...stupid...even the article itself points out the removal of the bunny hop, which i'm referring to, along with waggling the stick back and forth to drift-boost...now MK wii, havn't played it, notice the lack of opinion...also.. "what.the.fuck." classic...no need to get butthurt if people don't like the games you do...
  • infestedandy - May 26, 2010 1:02 a.m.

    @gilgamesh310 Halo 2 definitely improved everything from the first game. Now, Halo 2 to Halo 3 is where the non-changes happened and I agree with you... why aren't they here!? Dave! Under your Resi 5 section you've got a few typos. Thought I'd give you a heads up: "So the gameplay remained exactly the same, but we got got slight pube-trimmings..." And then towards the end you spelled "falir" instead of "flair."
  • Gameguy94 - May 25, 2010 11:24 p.m.

    I would once again like to say I HATED Resistance 2. Now I'll leave...
  • Metroidhunter32 - May 25, 2010 9:42 p.m.

    I wouldn't complain to much about double dash killing the speed. It's about 3x as fast as mario kart wii. And also, I like it allot. More the the super nintendo one. and the DS one. And any others that they're about to make.
  • flabslapper - May 25, 2010 2:30 p.m.

    I disagree with MK:DD, only because MK:Wii was for worse for only one reason, and that reason was the exclusion of co-op Trophy mode. The reason why I had so much fun with MK64 and MK:DD was because my friend and I would play together against the atrocious AI and make sure one of us got in 1st place so we could unlock everything. When my friend drove TWO HOURS to my house so we could play MK:Wii together we were so disappointed that I nearly started crying, at least MK:DD was FUN for us But your opinion made sense to me at least, you made some good points that I will agree with. Also the ReCAPTCHA thing sys 'Series gissing', coincidence?
  • JosefMotley - May 25, 2010 12:47 p.m.

    also sorry to double comment but the guy above me reckons there was no drift boost in double dash cause there was no jump???? what. the. fuck. has he even played it?????? i will never understand anyone who thought mario 64 was a good game.
  • JosefMotley - May 25, 2010 12:46 p.m.

    oh it's so easy to poke fun at dynasty warriors. but aren't devil may cry and indeed afro samurai & dante's inferno just as ultimately shallow? button bashing is fun to some people, stop picking on dynasty, it's the biggest games journalist cliche ever. devil may cry one was just as painfully dull. also mario kart wii should really have been the object of your vitriol rather than double dash, which was way more playable and fair... but good points all round nonetheless.
  • avantguardian - May 25, 2010 11:44 a.m.

    i'm sorry, but double dash was sh*t... definitely a case (imho) of subtraction by addition... i LOVED MK and MK64 (though i never owned either system), but DD hurt me...ironically though, it was the one glaring subtraction that broke that game for me; without jumping the drift-boost was gone...unac****ingceptible... @oreopizza47 & authorityfigure; great points and i completely agree..GR needs to lay off on the RE5 hate(single player sheva is WeToddEd though, i'll give you that)... @phillipshaw: totally agree, probably in the "sequels that sh*t on potentially great game franchises" article...
  • gazdog9 - May 25, 2010 10:26 a.m.

    the Driver series . The first one , awesome driving physics , cool replays. Second one driving still good . On foot missions terrible. Driver 3 (No , I refuse to substitute the letter "e" in Driver for the number 3) , Window punchingly frustrating . How did it go so wrong
  • philipshaw - May 25, 2010 10:06 a.m.

    Spiderman 3 should be on the list, it took what was an amazing game in Spiderman 2 and added stuff to it which somehow managed to ruin what was great about the last game
  • AuthorityFigure - May 25, 2010 8:44 a.m.

    Go play Resident Evil IV after playing V and you'll see an undeniable difference... I think V is a successful sequel. IVs progression was imperfect anyway: the abandonment of all puzzles after chapter 2, the awkward save-points and single-stick control are things commonly critisized in GR articles anyway...
  • dpowers - May 25, 2010 8:19 a.m.

    even though its repetitive and hasn't changed dynast warriors is frickin sweet. samurai warriors was pretty good as well i'd say. the day they start having kills instead of KOs and blood and dismemberment is the day i never play another game (ok so bit of an exaggeration but it would be nice)

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