Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there. You know what is better than 1? 2, 3, 4, this is not always true for video games but it is this week.
Sequels are all the rage in Hollywood but they have also bitten the bug of this generation of the gaming world too. Case in point Tuesday saw the release of two of the year´s highly anticipated games Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3. Throw in Sonic 4: Episode 2 and that is three sequels in one week. So with that in mind, the 411 staffers decided to make their own lists of sequels for this week´s Top 5.
John Downey (Writer of the Love/Hate Music News Report)
Honorable Mentions: Street Fighter 2, Streets of Rage 2, Mortal Kombat 2, Half-Life 2, Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within
5. Shining Force 2 Admittedly, this stretches my definition of a proper sequel as this wasn’t the second game in the Shining series, but the series is so loosely connected in the first place that I feel as though the Shining Force series is its own thing. While the first Shining Force title was a bit stock, Shining Force 2‘s writing burst off the screen while every battle felt important, if not epic. Couple that with being one of the few RPGs that made you seriously consider how to level up certain characters (two years before Pokemon pulled off a similar trick) and hitting the sweet spot of game length and it’s hard to argue against Shining Force 2 being one of the greatest strategy RPGs of all time.
4. Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne That this game was not a smash commercial success baffles me. Unlike many of its contemporaries, Max Payne 2‘s brief, brutal gunfights had weight due to what they meant to the player and how he could be expected to proceed, and served as an extension of the story’s theme of finding meaning in madness and doubt. Some have argued that the game is a bit short, but I prefer to call it concise—no encounter, cutscene, or line of dialogue feels out of place, and I wish that more games gave me as much bang for my buck as Max Payne 2.
3. System Shock 2 Here’s a horror title that is actually scary, a shooting title that requires actual strategy, and a breathtaking adventure title all rolled into one. System Shock 2 was ahead of its time, selling poorly on initial release but considered to be one of the greatest games of all time by almost everyone who played it. Let me put it this way: Bioshock, one of the most beloved games of this generation, is basically a simplified version of System Shock 2.
2. Mega Man 2 The first Mega Man title established the core elements of the series, but I feel that the formula was perfect with the second title. The game was colorful, the soundtrack was memorable, and the controls were precise, but what puts it over the top in my book is the subtly-varied level design, with each stage keeping you on your toes while also feeling like all of them belong to the same product. Few 8-bit platform games feel as complete as Mega Man 2, which is why I’ve ranked it so high on my list.
1. Mass Effect 2 I feel as though the people who disliked Mass Effect would have been the ones who would have loved Mass Effect 2 the most. Jettisoning practically everything about the first title that didn’t work while tightening and refining everything else, Mass Effect 2 stands out as a critical look at humanity, racism, and mortality, daring gamers to care about its characters and engaging them in some of the best gunfights in the history of the art form. Its lone drawback was its mining mechanic, and even that offered more gratification than most Facebook flash games. After my first playthrough, I tried to recall a more satisfying experience I’ve obtained from a video game, and I couldn’t think of a suitable comparison.
5. Super Mario Bros. 3 – Quite possibly the Holy Grail of the NES. Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2 are among the top when it comes to NES games. For Super Mario Bros. 3 Nintendo threw in everything and the kitchen sink. Flying, secrets all over the place, Giant World and my favorite the Tanooki Suit. To many SMB3 is still the best Mario game out there, and I won’t be one to argue with them.
4. Suikoden II – The under-appreciated and criminally overlooked Suikoden series! The first was enjoyable and introduced many of the core elements, True Runes, Army Battles and a good story. Suikoden II didn’t stray too far from that formula, on the contrary, many critics held that against it. What Suikoden II did have that the first didn’t, was an incredible story. Luca Blight was among the top as far as villains is concerned. The main Hero’s and Jowy’s eventual outcome ranks among the top of RPG storylines. Unfortunately this game was released around the same time as a little game called Final Fantasy VIII, it didn’t sell well to say the least. Still, there is a reason this game is still in high demand fetching top dollar on the web.
3. Grand Theft Auto 3 – Grand Theft Auto 1 and 2 for the PSX was a novel idea, but based on the hardware at the time, it was restrained to say the least. Grand Theft Auto 3 arrived on the PS2 and blew the doors wide open for sandbox games. Series like Saints Row, Crackdown, and the True Crime series have GTA3 to thank.
2. Street Fighter 2 – My introduction to Street Fighter 2 was at a pizza place. My mind was blown! I waited in a pretty long line to pop my quarter in and have my turn. My ass was handed to me and I still remember my opponent calling me out on not even knowing how to block. I fell in love with Street Fighter, and to this day it is one of my favorite game series. I remember searching for the original, one day I found it at a convenience store of all places. It sucked, we all know this. Street Fighter was a good idea, Street Fighter 2 was light-years ahead of it.
1. Mega Man 2 – Unlike other games on this list, minus Suikoden II, Mega Man 2 did not stray far from its roots. Mega Man 2 ran the same engine as the original, did not overhaul the graphics, although they were “tweaked” a little, and didn’t really add too much. What Keiji Inafune and his team did accomplish, on their own time I might add, was to build a solid and highly enjoyable game that surpassed the original in terms of level design, character design, playability and sheer fun factor. Mega Man 2 was the rocket that sent the blue bomber to the top, and Capcom had its new mascot.
Gavin Napier (Writer of This is the End(ing)
Honorable Mentions: Grandia II, Super Punch Out!!, Mortal Kombat 3
5. Silent Hill 2 The original Silent Hill is praised as a master work in survival horror games for the disc based generation of gaming. And rightfully so. What makes Silent Hill 2 better? Well, for one, Pyramid Head. He’s a guy with a sword that would make Cloud Strife blush and a giant bloody/rusty pyramid shaped cage on his head. He stalks you with all the speed of a classic horror monster, and with the same efficiency. He’s always nearby somewhere. The other positive difference for my liking is the fact that the graphics took such a huge step forward that it makes the game much more playable. Like most successful sequels, it took the things that the original game did right and kept them, while improving everything else.
4. Street Fighter II The adventures of Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter were very basic, very straightforward, and very frustrating. Enter Street Fighter II, where a variety of warriors with unique looks and abilities battled with each other in an effort to overthrow M. Bison and become the world street fighting champion. The very fact that the term “Ryu motion” is a part of the gaming lexicon speaks to how good this game was. It’s a staple of video game history and continues to produce quality sequels. Comparing this and the original Street Fighter would be like comparing macaroni noodles to macaroni and cheese – it’s no contest.
3. Grand Theft Auto III Another sequel that set a landmark in gaming, GTA III pushed every limit imaginable. It gave players an unprecedented world to roam and interact with. It provided a plethora of options for mischief and violence. It had an incredible licensed soundtrack with a ton of great music on it. The first two GTA games were good for what they were, but GTA III went above and beyond and revolutionized the industry in a variety of ways.
2. Uncharted 2 Uncharted has quickly become one of the staples of modern gaming. The first offering was a solid, fresh game full of action and platforming and likable characters. It captured an almost nostalgic, fun feeling that God of War didn’t have just because God of War was so dark in terms of subject matter. Uncharted 2 took everything that the original did and improved on it. The voice acting is the best in video game history (a point that I’ll eventually beat into the ground if I haven’t already), the action and platforming are both tight, and the story has a rewarding end. Easily my favorite game of the 360/PS3 generation, and one of my top 5 games of all time, period.
1. Super Mario Bros. 3 Wait…Mario can FLY? For a generation of gamers that grew up on Super Mario Bros. for the NES, Mario 3 was a huge leap forward. On a personal level, I greatly enjoyed Super Mario Bros. 2, which was actually just Doki Doki Panic with some sprite changes, but it couldn’t touch Mario 3. It didn’t hurt that this game had the greatest marketing campaign of any video game in history, either. The Fred Savage/Nintendo vehicle The Wizard was all about Mario 3. The world’s greatest video game players were battling it out, and the winner would be determined by who did the best at a game nobody had ever seen before…Super Mario Bros. 3. When the curtain raised so that the curtain could raise, it was unimaginably epic for a 10 year old. There have been great Mario games since, but I don’t remember one that inspired the buzz that this one did, and then lived up to the hype. Twenty-plus years later, it’s still my favorite Mario game.
Todd Vote (Games Zone Reviewer and News Writer)
5.Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 – This game is heads and shoulders above the first game, if you can look past the slightly smaller roster of characters. The best part was the fusion attacks. any two chracters combined their special abilities to create a devastating attack. For example, combining Hulk and Wolverine for a fusion attack resulted in Hulk throwing Wolverine claws first at his enemies, while bouncing off the walls to attack more enemies. Oh yeah, and a playable Deadpool. nuff said.
4.Spider-Man 2 – Yup, one of the best movie games out there is also one of the best sequels for my money. The first game to get the super hero thing correct, who doesn’t remember swinging around New York City? Spider-Man 2 had so much going for it, but the main thing was really nailing down the swinging mechanics. If that wasn’t your cup of tea, there were plenty of side missions to keep you occupied, or climb as high as you can and dive off, just to make the Web Crawler go splat!
3.Mortal Kombat 2 – You had to know it was coming somewhere on here. Is there any doubt that of the original MK series, II is the absolute best? I know Salms will argue the fact based on his love for MK Trilogy, but for us sane, non Target Terror loving gamers, MK II was the best of the series. It introduced multiple Fatalities, Babalities, and of course the ever awesome Friendships.
2.Assassin’s Creed 2 – I played the first game… It bored me to tears. Altair had a cool story, but the gameplay was so one dimensional that I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the game. My cousin loaned me Assassin’s Creed 2, I was a bit leary. I am very glad I borrowed the game, as playing through it has made me a fan of the series. I’ve since purchased Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and am working my way through it.
1.Super Mario Brothers 3 – The best Mario game ever in my humble opinion, Super Mario Brothers 3 changed the series, adding in so many new features. it was ever bit worth the wait. How many people watched the 90 minute Nintendo infomercial known as The Wizard, just to see SM3 in action?
Stewart Lange(Writer of MMA 5 & 1, Also on 411 MMA UK Podcast)
5.Left 4 Dead 2 – Whenever a moment of boredom crops up in the Lange household, generally, within a few minutes, Left 4 Dead 2 will be suggested. It’s literally the only game my wife will play and I’ll be damned if she’s not pretty good at it too. While I personally prefer the characters in the first game, this instalment improves so much on the first that I can’t not include it. If only they’d release more campaigns for the 360 version.
4.Trials: Evolution – The most recent and only arcade title on this list, I can’t put this game down since it came out a month ago. Trials:HD is, for my money one of the best XBLA titles out there and this one blows it out of the water. Since it came out I’ve bought and neglected- The Witcher 2, Minecraft and Prototype 2, and other than battering Prototype, nothing other than Trials has had a look in. Oh- if you want to play Minecraft, add me on xbl- outafterdark216.
3.Shenmue 2 – Long time readers will know I’ll find any way to crowbar a Shenmue title into a top 5, but boy, does this belong here. Better story than the original? Check. Better graphics and gameplay? Check. Cliffhanger ending (COME ON, ALREADY!)? Check. One of the finest games of all time, strangely, I’d almost say my top 3 on this list is my top 3 of all time anyway.
2.Mass Effect 2 – When Mass Effect came out, I didn’t enjoy it. At the time, gaming was more a “quick bash of FIFA before going out with friends” or “spree on GTA” sort of thing for me so I dismissed it as “too much.” When the sequel came out, I decided that, with a serious gamer hat on thanks to playing a few other titles in the mean time, to try it. I was able to speed run the first game, enjoying the hell out of it, but then just killing this one. The suicide mission is one of my favourite gaming sequences ever.
1.Fallout 3 – While you could argue this isn’t a “true sequel,” you can shut your mouth. Not only does it have a 3 in the title, making it eligible for this list, but it’s the game I’ve spent the most time on, know the most about, completed the most amount of times and hell, I even have “that” bible passage tattooed on me. Fallout 3 is my favourite GAME of all time, so it easily tops this list.