Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Greatness Comes in Threes: Best Trilogies in Gaming - Part Three

It's the third day of August and the third day of the work week-- what a perfect time to bring back an article series celebrating its third entry about the best gaming trilogies!

The trilogy-- in movies it's a common occurrence with hugely successful blockbusters whether it's Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, or Back to the Future. Trilogies are also pretty common in gaming as well, but at the same token, an actual good trilogy is a completely different matter. This new article series details some of the very best trilogies that our hobby and industry have been able to create in its much shorter lifespan. Check out parts one and two to see the past trilogies mentioned in this article series.

The Batman Arkham Trilogy:

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360, PC)
Batman: Arkham City (Wii U, PS3, 360, PC)
Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, XB1, PC)

Rocksteady made a name for itself by creating one of the first truly masterful Batman games, much more a truly masterful superhero game, with Batman: Arkham Asylum. The game felt somewhat like a Metroid-structured game with new gadgets allowing Batman to access new portions of the titular asylum, where the inmates indeed ran it. Batman: Arkham City opened up things with a large open world to explore, as well as keeping multiple dungeon-like indoor areas available as well. Lastly, Batman: Arkham Knight, released last year, took the series to a larger open world area, complete with Batmobile. The tale told by the Arkham series is one that tells one of the greater Batman stories in the video game medium. Controlling Batman felt fast and fluid, taking out henchmen and other malcontents could be done with ease and finesse, and you really felt like you were the Dark Knight throughout all three games. While Arkham Origins is also an excellent entry, a prequel to Rocksteady's games, its story isn't as important to the overall Arkham trilogy, nor was it developed by Rocksteady. Hence why it's not included.

The Gears of War Trilogy:

Gears of War (360)
Gears of War 2 (360)
Gears of War 3 (360)

Epic Games came off the wild success of the Unreal Tournament series with a new franchise for the Xbox brand, Gears of War. Taking the already revolutionary third-person shooting gameplay from Resident Evil 4 and somehow revolutionizing it further with a highly remarkable cover-and-shoot mechanic, the Gears of War trilogy is something macabre and marvelous to behold. From running, gunning, and taking up cover, to shooting a Locust into submission before tearing into them with a chainsaw, the brutality available to players was exceptional. The popcorn movie blockbuster-like story across the three games saw your crew of four buff and gruff soldiers sticking it to the Locust horde all the while spouting off smooth one-liners. The other piece to Gears of War's success as a series is the incredible multiplayer, though it did hit a bit of a snag with the second game. However, Gears 3 brought things back to how they should be with addicting and visceral multiplayer action goodness for all.

The Mass Effect Trilogy:

Mass Effect (PS3, 360, PC)
Mass Effect 2 (PS3, 360, PC)
Mass Effect 3 (PS3, 360, PC)

Despite all of the arguments both founded and not about the ending of the Mass Effect trilogy, that by no means ruins the entire time many of us spent with the three games in the Mass Effect series. Filled to the brim with different character classes, races, planets, areas to explore, and lore that would give other sci-fi series like Star Trek a run for their money, Mass Effect brought players into its universe and grabbed them, never letting go until long after Mass Effect 3's credits rolled. From the engaging third-person shooting gameplay to the RPG-like customization for your own specially crafted character, Mass Effect as a series is a wonderful one. Again, the trilogy might not have ended on the highest of notes, but that doesn't detract from the overall greatness that the Mass Effect trilogy has and will continue to endure for (console) generations to come.

The Jak and Daxter Trilogy:

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2)
Jak II (PS2)
Jak 3 (PS2)

This trilogy is an interesting one. Despite having a formula and tone set for the original Jak and Daxter, after The Precursor Legacy, Naughty Dog went for a much darker angle with Jak II. In essence, it was very tryhard and almost embarrassing to see. That said, while the original Jak and Daxter was a 3D collectathon like a Super Mario 64 or a Banjo-Kazooie, Jak II took the series to an open world, darker setting where instead of attacking with Jak and Daxter's limbs, Jak used weaponry such as guns, turning the platformer series into a third-person shooter with platforming elements. Jak 3 ended the trilogy with a great capstone to the story, and it was a more polished and less frustrating game. While I would have preferred that Naughty Dog not lose the narrative on what makes a platformer fun, the Jak and Daxter trilogy is a fun one despite the tonal shift the series saw.

The LittleBigPlanet Trilogy:

LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)
LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4, PS3)

Play, Create, and Share-- that is the mantra and motto of the LittleBigPlanet series. The first LittleBigPlanet game was such an exciting prospect, and it turned out to be really good execution-wise by Media Molecule. Not only were the worlds fun to explore, but the ability to create one's own levels and creations and share them with the world was added to the longevity of the game. Though the creation tools took some learning to create masterpieces, being able to craft your own designs whether levels or enemies was stupendous. LittleBigPlanet 2 added even more creation options with it being my favorite of the trilogy. Finally, LittleBigPlanet 3 released a couple of years ago on both the PS3 and the PS4, though under the care of a new developer. New characters and level types were included, but so were unwanted glitches and bugs that I think still permeate throughout both versions of the game. SuperPhillip Central has yet to review the third installment, but don't worry, dear gadders, it's coming!

The Original Mario Party Trilogy:

Mario Party (N64)
Mario Party 2 (N64)
Mario Party 3 (N64)

While all of the other trilogies on this list are trilogies by story, Mario Party's trilogy is based on being on the same system, the original party machine, the Nintendo 64. Call it an unofficial trilogy! Mario Party brought Nintendo 64 gamers and party-goers multiple boards and a multitude of mini-games for four players either in a battle royal, 2 vs. 2, or 1 vs. 3 form. Many mini-games would see a second time in the spotlight with Mario Party 2, such as crowd favorite Bumper Balls. Thankfully, with the sequels of Mario Party, the need to turn the control stick of the N64 controller was long gone, which meant no more blisters on palms or thumbs due to super fast spinning of the stick! Mario Party 2 also brought costumes into the forefront, while Mario Party 3 introduced new characters to play as. All in all, my favorite Mario Party games still remain the first trio. What about you?

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