As we continue to celebrate the forthcoming release of BioShock Infinite, this weeks Friday Feeling takes a look at the strongest of the strong sequels. We’re only looking at 2nd entries in this feature but we’re confident you’ll agree…
Batman: Arkham City
Rocksteady and Batman: Arkham Asylum came out of nowhere to blow gamers and critics away. No-one expected that their debut Batman title would be reach the heights that it did. For the first time in gaming’s history, you felt like Batman. Wisely building the game around Batman’s strengths – fear, stealth, control, brutal-efficency and gadgets – Rocksteady created a Metroidesque adventure that was a love letter to the character’s lore and gaming itself. When its follow-up Batman: Arkham City was announced, many Bat-fans were worried. Could lightening strike twice? Would the much vaunted mechanics fit in an open-world? We needn’t have worried. Arkham City was everything we wanted and more. Improving on everything from the original and bringing in new elements, with a jaw-dropping storyline that examined just what the Batman is and how far he would go to achieve his goals, Arkham City is not only a perfect Batman game but one of THE games of the generation.
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
Released way back in 1991, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge is still considered the great point-and-click adventure of all time – and with good reason. Building on the superb original’s popular setting and iconic characters, developers Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and Dave Grossman increased the amount of islands to visit, with puzzles now more complex and requiring you to visit multiple locations to complete them, while keeping the intimate feel of its predecessor. With the humour just as sharp, LeChuck’s Revenge saw a boost in graphics (the game still looks lovely today) and an impressive soundtrack. With the series not following-up on the games bizarre, yet compelling, ending (series lead Gilbert left LucasArts after the games release) and has seen the quality slightly dip, that nagging question still remains – just what IS the secret of Monkey Island?
Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed delighted and disappointed in equal measures. While many were fascinated with the sweeping setting of the Crusade-era Holy Land and conspiracy-laden storyline, many criticised the game for not having much game-play in it. Not so with the sequel. Assassin’s Creed II introduced franchise poster-boy Ezio and improved just about everything from the original. Players now felt like an assassin, able to blend into crowds at will, strike at the right moment and escape across the rooftops of Renaissance Italy – not at all like the clumsy oaf the first game made us feel like. Developers UbiSoft, seemingly more confident in the series and their own abilities, showed us just how to make a blockbuster sequel.
System Shock 2
It’s a simple as this – no System Shock 2, no Deus Ex or Bioshock. Co-developed by Ken Levine’s Irrational Games (Bioshock) and Looking Glass Studios (Deus Ex), System Shock introduced and mastered features that we still today; audio logs, diaries, FPS merged with RPG and cyber-punk were all present and correct. You’ll see the name mentioned in many an interview with games developers as an influence for many reasons – the mechanics, the narrative, the sci-fi/horror themes. In fact, despite its many admirers borrowing liberally, the 1999 title still feels fresh today and recent collectors-edition has recently been released on GOG.com to universal acclaim. We’d urge you to check it out – it’s STRONG!
Mass Effect 2
We’re big fans of the Mass Effect series here at Low Fat Gaming. Even so, we’ll freely admit the original Mass Effect had its flaws and hasn’t aged terribly well. The same can’t be said of its superior sequel, Mass Effect 2. Billed as the trilogies Empire Strikes Back, the storyline was darker and more personal than the epic grandeur of the original. The action was ramped up and improved too, with the exploration much cleaner and straightforward to experience – though the less said about the planet mining, the better. The series main draw, however, was carrying on your storyline and character from the previous episode and fans couldn’t wait to delve back into Shepard’s adventure. Bioware didn’t disappoint with one of the most memorable, and ballsy, openings to a game of all time.
Uncharted 2 has become the modern template for the triple-AAA adventure game, as seen in this years Tomb Raider and countless other titles. With good reason too; breath-taking and relentless, Uncharted 2 is the white-knuckle ride Hollywood executives would dearly love to recreate on the silver-screen but only exists in our beloved PS3s. While it can become a little uncomfortable the way star Nathan Drake wise-cracks after murdering hundreds of people, developer Naughty Dog improved on the original in a game that entertains from start to finish.
– Dave Green. Tell him what he missed on Twitter @davidpgreen83