Sequels ahoy?

This is going to sound like one of those nostalgic rants of how things used to be and how things are awful now. But the reality is that as far as video games are concerned, things are generally better. I still remember when entertainment was watching an adulterer get stoned or inept actors use masks to represent emotions. Gamers are no longer seen as those hairy men who live in their mother’s basements. The power and capacity of PC’s, laptops, gaming consoles, handheld or otherwise are constantly increasing, as is our expectations of the game industry as a whole.

But what is with all these unnecessary sequels? I mean the obvious answer to this is the desire for money, which seems to work. I watched for the trailer for Assassin’s Creed IV today and realised I haven’t yet played number 3. I’ve heard about the coming Battlefield 4 and don’t really understand why. I’m sure they’re probably up to Halo 17 by now. The latest Sim City was more of a failed and awkward reboot than anything else, somewhat similar to Tomb Raider and DmC: Devil may Cry which weren’t bad games in themselves, just unnecessary.

I remember when sequels were an exciting concept. Half Life 2 had the fan-boys battling each other in the streets, along with Portal 2. The Mass Effect series, despite the ending, was still a shining example of a video game trilogy where each sequel was story-driven, as opposed to being new-generation-console-driven, like the Super Smash Brothers games, or new-year-driven, like every sports game ever. But it doesn’t even seem to take a new generation of consoles or even a significant change in computing power, game mechanics or anything really to give you a sequel. That being said, I’m currently enjoying, asides from my usual indie games, Bioshock: Infinite (3rd in the series) and Skyrim (5th in the series), but at least they’ve made attempts to be completely different.

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5 thoughts on “Sequels ahoy?

  1. I agree that in many times a sequel can be pushed out to make money on a franchise without the same consideration for an excellent game but wanted to point out that in terms of your example (Assassin’s Creed IV) this is an exception to the rule.

    I read an interesting article in a gaming magazine on my recent trip to Sydney where they spoke to the people being Assassins Creed IV and it was really a bunch of people who made the same conclusion I did playing Assassins Creed III. There’s a lot of fun stuff in there, but he boat mini-game was so much fun it could have been the whole game.

    That’s the basis of Assassins Creed IV, there will be a new storyline and the usual action/adventure but a large part of the game will be a new open-world explorable adventure based on piracy!

    I think this is an exciting break from the normal sequel model that should be recognized.

    1. Excellent points! While the direction of the story/plot from the others does seem odd, the step away from Desmond might make things seem a little fresher then they would otherwise. Though does this make the game more a spin-off as the memories are set before the events of Assassin’s Creed 3? Or does it still have validity as a direct sequel to the third.
      You’ve also hinted at the idea that the sequel is somewhat based on enjoyable game-play from the third rather than any real drive for story-progression which in my opinion is perfectly acceptable since video games are an interactive medium. I’m yet to play Assassin’s Creed 3 and so haven’t had the chance to enjoy the boat mini-game. I remember that Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood also had a boat mission where you had to use a mortar attached to a gondola to sink other ships. Fun for a one-time mission it was fun, though not something I would want to do too often. I’ll have to maybe post up another opinion of this once I’ve had a crack at the third one as it is clearly worth a play-through.

      1. Then I will have to loan you a copy of Assassin’s Creed III for XBOX 360 🙂
        Certainly there were a lot more complications that just a simple firing mechanism, as you had to position yourself to take care of the wind whilst avoiding being out of position for the waves all the while trying to line up your cannons on the moving enemy ships (and trying not to be struck down by them also!).

        I agree that it does seem like more of a spin-off, but I do like the fact that it’s not too far out (the game will be set around the youth of Connor from AC3’s grandfather).

        Another fun fact for sequels, how many times have they produced something where they have attempted to add a ‘fun twist’ or ‘new feature’ to the original which left you sitting their thinking “Why didnt they just produce an expansion pack? More of the same game with new areas!”.

        I know HoMM6 I purchased because of a huge enjoyment of HoMM5 and I don’t think I played it for more than about 10 hours (whereas I would have spend 100’s on HoMM5).

        We will see what you have to say after playing AC3 🙂

  2. http://kotaku.com/can-you-please-explain-to-people-why-megapublishers-are-455156649

    I found a full write-up somewhere, but can’t find it again. I find that there’s a lot of miscommunication between the industry and the consumers. For example, when I look at buying two games, one of which I had heaps of fun with the first game, and one which I don’t know at all, obviously it’s as much of a “risk” for me to buy the unknown game as it is for the publisher to release it.
    As a dev/designer, I do lots of research, and educate myself before buying games, but if you asked me about shampoo or deoderant, I’ll probably buy from the brand I’ve had a good experience with. As someone who doesn’t have the interest in investing time into researching every product I buy, I purchase “low-risk” products – it’s a similar situation for somebody who doesn’t value game design in the way that I do, when they have to decide about buying a game.
    At the end of the day, I attempt to “educate” people about what I think they should buy – I hope the friends I have understand my passion about the industry and take my recommendations to heart – although in all honesty I don’t really pay a lot of attention to friends who recommend I buy/not-buy a specific brand of chocolate. We’ve all got lots to learn.

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