games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Video Game Prequels – Metal Gear Solid 3, Yakuza 0, More

October 30, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Metal Gear Solid 3

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m covering video game prequels which is a good topic since Red Dead Redemption 2 came out last week. For the sake of this category (and since I’m only 15 hours into it) RDR 2 isn’t eligible for this list. The main idea here is picking games from established franchises that make a jump back in time in the continuity of the franchise. Let’s begin:

#8: Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

MGS 3 is comparatively low on my list simply because I just didn’t like how it played that much. I mean, they basically had to reissue the game with the “Subsistence” moniker with a functional camera since the one in Snake Eater was so reviled. MGS 3 places you in the role of Naked Snake, the original Snake, who Solid/Liquid/Solidus were cloned from, as he infiltrates a few Soviet bases, first to rescue a scientist and then later to stop an insane Soviet commander from starting a war. Stylistically, the game is superb, it looks awesome, has some great music and character work, but man, playing the game is such a slog to me, aside from some really good boss fights.

#7: Halo Reach

Halo: Reach might be the first Halo game I enjoyed from a character perspective. It did have a few unique missions but gameplay-wise it was pretty par for the course for a Halo game. However, I really liked the team-aspect in the game. You really feel a part of the squad, even if your particular character isn’t the chattiest in the group. Plus, I just liked the setting and locations of this game, it was a more down-to-Earth feel than most other Halo games, even ODST, which remains awful.

#6: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Now, I fully can say that San Andreas is a much better game. Way better gunplay, graphics, size and scope of the world, and so on. I put Vice City on here simply because I think I just liked the actual game world and time period better. Fronted by a Flock of Seagulls-led soundtrack, Vice City is bathed in the 80’s aesthetic, from the dance clubs to the Hawaiian shirts to all the neon in the game, it’s a game that relies heavily on the excess of the decade and it makes it a really interesting experience for me (and people of my generation) who were too young to experience it. Also, this game has Danny Trejo and Luis Guzman in it and that is some great casting.

#5: Suikoden 5

It’s interesting that four of the five Suikoden games are basically within a 30 year timeframe. Suikoden 5, 1, 2 and 3 are in chronological order from earliest to latest. Only Suikoden 4 is the odd one out, taking place 150 years before Suikoden 1 does. In the timeline though, Suikoden 5 is the earliest for the “main” games. It features certain non-magical characters that pop up in Suikoden 2 like Georg Prime or Killey or Lorelai. Aside from the continuity stuff, Suikoden 5 is just a good JRPG. The camera angles can be a bit wonky as you explore, but the battle system is the classic turn-based system that the older Suikoden games used, it has a lot of extra content for you to do, and recruiting all 108 characters is always enjoyable.

#4: Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Human Revolution was the game that helped revitalize the Deus Ex franchise…and Mankind Divided is the game that helped kill it, once again. OK, I’m being unkind to Mankind Divided but you get my point. Human Revolution was a pretty well made game with some bad boss fights. However, Adam Jensen was an interesting main character, the different cities you went to were varied and fun to explore and the core gameplay was solid. It wasn’t as versatile as original Deus Ex but few games are. It still held the same spirit as the first game though and helped to show how the Deus Ex world got so Augment-heavy in the first place.

#3: Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 was the game that got me, and from the sales/popularity, a lot of other people actually into the Yakuza franchise. While it did have its fans from the PS2/PS3 era of games, they were typically weirdoes and the earlier games had some real problems when it came to combat. Yakuza 0 is set during the 80’s, like all good crime games, letting you play as both Kiryu and Majima as they fight to keep a blind woman alive and to unravel the mystery of the Empty Lot. OK, the last bit is a tad weird, but Yakuza 0 combines the best fighting system in the series (still) with a lot of zany 80’s elements (the Cell Phone guy, for one) and a fairly grounded story. I still hold Yakuza 0 as the benchmark for reviewing other games in the franchise.

#2: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

The nice thing about Assassin’s Creed 4 is that you are playing a character that is the ancestor of the previous game’s protagonist just in a much…MUCH better game. It’s nice that Edward Kenway has an actual personality compared to his grandson Connor and actually seems to be having fun as he travels around. They got rid of the wonky gang mechanics that AC3 had, but added improved naval combat, letting you recruit boats into your own Naval force, and a funny present day storyline where you worked in a video game company trying to find new plots for upcoming Abstergo-related video games. Sadly, this last part goes nowhere in the grand scheme of the fiction, but it was still pretty novel to me.

#1: Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core actually made me care about a story in a Final Fantasy game. This is the first, and last, time this has actually happened to me. I actually liked Zack as a character and his enthusiasm for his job with the growing realization the Shinra isn’t a great company helped to drive his journey. More than that, I really enjoyed the battle system in the game. It was much more action-based than other Final Fantasy games, more akin to FF 12 or FF 15 than the usual turn-based battle system that most FF games have. I’d really like a HD port of this game to PS4 or PC. Come on Square, make it happen.

For comments, list your favorite video game prequels and why.

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Top 8 Worst Video Game Main Characters

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison