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.


Top 7


  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - May 24, 2010 12:16 p.m.

    ahh RE5 improved on on-line co-op, that's something i guess
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 24, 2010 12:20 p.m.

    Ahh.. Here we have the paradox known as the "sequel dilemma". Keep things the same... People will say BOO-RING! Totally change things up... People might hate it! "Improve" the gameplay? You might lose half toyr fanbase! So, where would you go as a game developer?
  • TURbo - May 24, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    It's simple if the demand is inelastic, drill that shit, and keep pumping out sequels.
  • reverandglass - May 24, 2010 12:53 p.m.

    I gotta take issue with resistance 2 being on the list. Compared to the first game everything was improved except, one could argue, the shooting. Fans of the first game aren't going to mind that though and it's a bit like saying burnout it no good because it doesn't handle like forza! Other than that I lol'd at dynasty warriors, well done.
  • lozarian - May 24, 2010 1:01 p.m.

    Pedantry: no-one remembers that Considerably fewer options. anyway. I agree, IV was severely disappointing, I've owned II,III and IV, and whilst imo III was a definite step up from II, IV added absolutely nothing. Though I would have thought that every single madden/fifa/champ manager game ever made deserved a mention.
  • tdarlistner100 - May 24, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    This a very nice "Top 7" and one that surely needed to be written eventually. My only gripe with this list of sequels that fell short of their expectations is that "Kill Zone 2" was not present on this list. I was able to play about 5 minutes of the game before the shooting mechanics got to m. Perhaps it is my own personal gripe with "Kill Zone 2" but I think it would have been a worthy addition to the list.
  • OnyxOblivion - May 24, 2010 1:34 p.m.

    I hate Mariokart...All the damn games are exactly the game. Not just Double Dash. All of 'em.
  • nadrewod999 - May 24, 2010 1:38 p.m.

    I just hope ACIII, SW:TFU, and inFamous 2 don't eventually end up on a list like this one. Ezio FTW!!! XD (just realized that, if you take out the W and the : from the acronym for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, it reads STFU! Take that, n00bs!)
  • spencerisgod1990 - May 24, 2010 2:02 p.m.

    i felt like Red Dead Redemption is a sequal to GTA4, its the exact same game in the west, with regenerating health, horses mixed with a few more minigames that you think is brillient till you remember darts and bowling from gta got old quick. you only do them for the achievements/trophies. ReCAPTCHA: the claims
  • gilgamesh310 - May 24, 2010 2:39 p.m.

    Why exactly isn't Halo 2 or 3 on this list. Surely if Resi 5 is there than at least one of the Halo sequels should be. The only improvement that Halo 2 had over the original was duel weilding and absolutely nothing else besides. The story developed into a convoluted mess. I long for the day when the halo sequels are shown up for what they really are.
  • sgloomy - May 24, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    I think there shouldn't be any major improvement if the game is working (i.e. God of War III, SSF4) but if there are flaws with the first game, they HAVE to be addressed in the sequel (Assassin Creed 2).
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - May 24, 2010 3:34 p.m.

    >It's simple if the demand is inelastic, drill that shit, and keep pumping out sequels. Lol economics I have several dynasty warrior games you cannot tell the difference between them And in some cases the get worse
  • CARDYKEV - May 24, 2010 3:37 p.m.

    Wish Splinter cell conviction was on this list
  • TyeTheCzar - May 24, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    I seriously hope Sengoku Basara will be a true Dynasty Warriors-killer when it finally comes out over here.
  • johngrybos - May 24, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    Typo @ RE5: 'falir' rather than 'flair'
  • Eaxis - May 24, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    This is a great top 7.
  • Chewrocka - May 24, 2010 3:50 p.m.

    I think you could argue that all though the options for Soulcal IV's character creations were less the actual depth was much greater. Different gear granted different attributes and abilities, I have like 6 of the same character because each does something different. And I think MarioKart Wii might have been a better choice, they tried to ad TONS of stuff to it and it just ended up a disappointing mess that shames MarioKart64.
  • dslayer99 - May 24, 2010 4:08 p.m.

    lol i have every dynasty warriors game and the only difference is the graphics!
  • Spacegrass - May 24, 2010 4:18 p.m.

    I thought the clothes changing in Soul Calibur IV was the worst thing about it; I bought the game to fight, not to play dress-up.
  • garnsr - May 24, 2010 4:24 p.m.

    I liked Samurai Warriors, it had some additions that as far as I know never made it into Dynasty Warriors, like having several different missions you could choose, or miss. Dynasty seems even simpler than that pretty simple game, I don't know how they've produced so many.

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