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The Top 7... sequels that improved nothing

3. Resident Evil 5

Attempted improvements: The addition of co-op, a new Gears of War-style twin-stick control scheme.

But it’s still on this list because: Resident Evil 5 was the messiest case of marketing-driven identity crisis since Madonna. Resident Evil 4 was always going to be impossible to follow. It was amazing because it shook up its franchise completely and changed the mechanics of survival horror and third-person shooters forever. It changed everything, and it’s fundamentally impossible to improve upon a ground-breaking work by repeating it. That’s the nature of something that’s ground-breaking.

So after Resi 4 had slapped its massive, over-achieving knob down on the table, all Resi 5 could ever hope to do was investigate out those unsolicited penis enlargement e-mails and hope to measure up. So the gameplay remained exactly the same, but we got got slight pube-trimmings in the shape of better graphics (obviously), a new setting, new control options, and co-op.

Only that last addition really changed anything, and arguably it wasn’t for the better. With a friend hollering down the mic, Resi 4’s dense atmosphere and immaculate pacing were unceremoniously curb-stomped, and in single-player mode, dealing with combat-useless, ammo-stealing AI partner Sheva was like babysitting a toddler who’d repeatedly loot your wallet and spend the money on hamster food. And didn’t even own a hamster.

Above: Little did Sheva know, Chris was about to kick her right off the boat, and then run her over. For being a massive idiot. Heeeeere, crocky crocky!

And worst of all? The total lack of imagination or design falir. With Resi 4 director Shinji Mikami departed for Platinum Games, Resi 5 brought barely even a single new enemy to the table, rehashing and recycling – even when logistically illogical - where its predecessor had shocked and amazed us at every turn. Bag-headed chainsaw men were back, and El Gigante was suddenly in Africa for some reason too. Except where once he was awesome, now he was rubbish.

2. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2

Attempted improvements: More well-known characters, two-character special attacks

But it’s still on this list because: Nothing else changed. And as Henry pointed out in his M:UA2 review, the gameplay model for this series has been around since 2004’s X-Men Legends. Is some meaningful improvement to a basic dungeon crawler too much to ask, given a five-year window of potential improvements? Yes. Yes it seems it is. What cheeky scamps we are for even suggesting it.

So yeah, we got a more recognisable cast list, but aside from fan-service, the game’s improvements were on a par with adding  extra cheese to a triple-cheese pizza with a base already made of nothing but cheese. We walked, ran and flew along. We encountered bad people who wanted to hurt us. We hurt them ‘til they didn’t want to hurt us any more. We pulled out the X-hose, we super-rinsed, and we super-repeated.

The new twin-character combo attacks were a nice touch. And it’s almost plausible that coming up with a unique one for each combination of the game’s multitude characters took so long that there wasn’t time to do anything else. It hurts our heads to even try to work out how many there needed to be. But the fact is that once each super-combo super-load was blown, it was straight back to the same old mash and grind we’d been crunching through for half a decade. Super-snore.

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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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