Top 10 Most Improved Video Game Sequels (with Videos!)
More often than not, a sequel can't beat the original. In fact, some people prefer to leave things be and not see their favorite movie or game ruined by a follow-up that may bring nothing to the table but pain. Still, everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, as in some cases a sequel has helped the developers redeem themselves and fix what wasn't perfect, turning an already excellent product into a AAA masterpiece. Here are some examples in the world of video games.
10. Team Fortress 2 over Team Fortress (PC / PS3 / Xbox 360)
The original Team Fortress wasn't a bad game, but it technically wasn't a full game either — it was a mod for Quake that expanded the gameplay by giving players specialized classes for their characters. The sequel, on the other hand, was a complete, original game. The new build was blessed with a unique cartoony aesthetic to the sadistic specialists, hilarious voice acting, and a constantly expanding slate of maps and modes thanks to Valve Corporation's frequent updates. What started as an addition to id Software's famous multiplayer FPS became its own unique entity, and it continues today where its progenitor has faded into obscurity.
9. Super Metroid over Metroid 2 and Metroid (SNES)
While the original Metroid games are fondly remembered for being pioneers in expansive video game environments, they have not aged well. The lack of a map system and the overwhelming sameness of the caverns make progression very difficult, especially in the NES version (where several blocks that need to be destroyed in order to proceed look indistinguishable from every other block). These problems weren't present in Super Metroid, however. In addition to being a superb game, the SNES classic added a map system to make navigation easier, and enough diversity of environment to give a true feeling of exploration. Super Metroid was so excellent that it took Nintendo several years to release a sequel that they felt would measure up.
8. Tomb Raider: Legend over Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness (PC / PS2 / Xbox 360)
Tomb Raider was one of the pioneers of 3D gaming's first generations, offering both immersive exploration and a heroine whose shamelessly sexualized physique could only be conveyed in three dimensions. However, constant sequels destroyed Lara Croft's initial momentum, and the fundamentally broken Angel of Darkness seemed to be the final nail in the tomb. Thankfully, the developer switch from Core Design to Crystal Dynamics revitalized the character, and Lara's return in the 2006 Tomb Raider Legend debuted to very positive reception. With improved level design, more fluid controls, and a story written by returned series creator Toby Gard, Legend put Lara back on the gaming scene, where she stays to this date.
7. Sonic Colors over Sonic Unleashed and Sonic the Hedgehog (Wii)
The 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game was one of the biggest disappointments in video game history, offering a broken, meandering game and a cheesy storyline that went into disturbing territory with its realistic human / cartoon hedgehog romance. The 2008 Sonic Unleashed was better received, but was still plagued by average reviews due to its overemphasis on Sonic's new, brutish "Werehog" form. But Sonic Colors was a surprise success. Streamlining the focus towards platforming and high-speed action, while removing the gimmicks that plagued the series for so long, Sonic Colors helped the Blue Blur shake the stigma that's chased him since the days of the Dreamcast, and proved that the marriage between Sonic and 3D need not end in a messy divorce.
6. Red Dead: Redemption over Red Dead: Revolver (PS3 / Xbox 360)
The original Red Dead: Revolver was a decent Western action game that received somewhat positive reviews. Its spiritual successor, Red Dead Redemption, was one of the most popular games of 2011. Redemption had little in common with Revolver except for the name and the setting, but with the sheer scope of its open-ended Old West world, was anyone complaining?
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Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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