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.


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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