Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Most Disappointing Video Game Sequels - Part One

We all have them-- games we very much enjoyed but then their sequels came up short in some way. The six games featured on this inaugural edition of The Most Disappointing Video Game Sequels fit the bill precisely. Now, they might not be bad games by any stretch of the imagination (though, some definitely are), but they did have to disappoint in some aspect of the game. Maybe they weren't as fun or creative as their predecessors, were rushed out to market, or some other reason. After scoping out and reading through SuperPhillip Central's picks, feel free to bring up those sequels that you wish turned out better than they actually did.

Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, 360, PC)

One of the times that critical acclaim and its Metacritic score just bewilder the hell out of me, Grand Theft Auto IV was a massive disappointment compared to the PS2 and Xbox's San Andreas. For one, IV lacked so many features that were present in San Andreas, some due to GTA IV's greater focus on realism over actual fun. The handling of cars felt extremely wonky in IV, the mission variety was limited at best and boring at worst, the almost complete lack of customization was highly disappointing, the map was all city and too segmented to be enjoyable, and the abundance of annoying phone calls by people who wanted to hang out were tedious to respond to. Perhaps if just taken as an open world game and not comparing it to past GTA games, Grand Theft Auto IV wouldn't have chafed my opinion on it so much, but as it is, GTA IV was a tremendous disappointment which would be thankfully remedied with Grand Theft Auto V's variety, customization, and more.

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360, PC)

The structure of Final Fantasy XIII confuses me as a player and someone interested in game design. Generally, a game starts out with open expanses and then when budget constraints eventually come in, the game becomes much more linear in design to make up for lack of funds near the end of development. With Final Fantasy XIII, the opposite happened design-wise. The first half of the game is devised up of extremely linear dungeons and areas that occasionally fork (and that's being generous) for a side path to get some treasure. The second half, however, is very much wide open once Lightning and companions reach Gran Pulse. Instead of leading with the game's best foot forward, Final Fantasy XIII forced players to agonize through boring, linear dungeons before getting to the real meat of the game. For many, the multiple chapters of doing this made for quite a sense of tedium. Yes, XIII is as beautiful as any other Final Fantasy game has an enjoyable battle system, but those alone do not make a great RPG. The entire package does, which Final Fantasy XIII did not reach its full potential.

Devil May Cry 2 (PS2) 

As we've seen already, a game can be a disappointment to some and still perform fantastically commercially. That was indeed the case with Capcom's Devil May Cry 2, but for many fans of the original and the series in general, Devil May Cry 2 is seen as the weakest game of the Japanese-developed entries in the franchise. Between weapons that seemed to have zero major differences between them and bosses that required little to no strategy, the overall difficulty of Devil May Cry 2 was made much easier, which ruffled the feathers of many a player. Levels went for more of an open approach, sacrificing graphical fidelity in the process, which also made the level designs not as compelling to play through,  Then, there is Dante's total change of personality, which made many miss his cocky demeanor from the first game. With all these problems, Devil May Cry 2 wasn't as an enjoyable sequel for many Devil May Cry fans with some even calling the game a total failure. Thankfully, Devil May Cry 3 very much righted the ship for the franchise-- well, before it went off course again with Ninja Theory's entry.

Perfect Dark Zero (360)

This game, a launch title for the Xbox 360, is one example that shows that a game can still be enjoyable despite it not living up to its predecessor. Indeed, Perfect Dark Zero is an example of a disappointing sequel when compared to the original Perfect Dark, a Nintendo 64 classic that would get its definitive version on Xbox Live Arcade. The original PD is one of my favorite FPS shooters ever made, so to go from that to Perfect Dark Zero was quite the gut check. While the multiplayer and gunplay were rather good, things like the campaign, the story, and especially the horrendous voice acting (Americanizing Joanna Dark and performing some revisionist history on the series were not good moves in my opinion) made for a game that didn't come close to reaching the same highs as the Nintendo 64 classic. While I wouldn't call Perfect Dark Zero a bad game per se, it was, in fact, a poor sequel and huge disappointment coming off of the greatness that was the original Perfect Dark.

Mega Man X6 (PS1)

The first of the Mega Man X series that was truly terrible, Mega Man X6 seemed rushed out of the gate, releasing close to a year from X5, if not less. I remember seeing Mega Man X6 on a store's shelf wondering to myself, "When the heck was THIS announced?!" Regardless, Mega Man X5 was supposed to be the conclusion of the X series, and maybe it should have been considering how poor X6 and then the attempt to bring the series to 3D with X7 were. (Though, X8 was of a considerably greater quality, thankfully.) Between the poor level design (such as facing a mini-boss in Blaze Heatnix's stage no less than 5-6 times in one go), awfully implemented Nightmare System which randomized certain elements of levels to lame effect, and the worthlessness of most of X's weapons, and you have a game that started the X series' slide into mediocrity, one that, again, would not be rectified until Mega Man X8.

Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)

The Wii's Animal Crossing: City Folk gives us an example in a sequel that is pretty good as a game by its lonesome, but as a sequel it's not much improved at all. City Folk released a couple of years after the Nintendo DS's Animal Crossing: Wild World, and in essence, City Folk is just Wild World on a console with better graphics and a city thrown in. That's pretty much it. Well, don't forget the privilege of paying full price for Wild World 2.0. Not only a disappointment for veterans of the series for how little was improved from past games, but it was a disappointment in 2008 being Nintendo of America's table scraps for more dedicated gamers that holiday season when the focus was on Wii Music. That said, if you've never played an Animal Crossing game before, then City Folk wouldn't be disappointing at all. It's just putting it in a specific context where it does end up being less than amazing.

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