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Top 5 Best & Worst Video Game Sequels

Video games tend to obey different rules than movies. While movie sequels are rarely as good as their predecessors, video game sequels tend to be improvements. There are plenty of reasons for this, but sufficed to say, there are also plenty of exceptions. That's why this list will celebrate the best while shaming the worst that video game sequels have to offer.

The rules for this list are as follows: 1) the game has to be the second installment in a series (though there is some wiggle room, as we shall see); 2) the original game has to have been at least a relatively decent game (this is why you won't find Street Fighter II on this list, despite the fact that it is arguably the best video game sequel of all time); 3) the game has to have been out for at least a couple of years (sadly, that means no Mass Effect 2); and 4) both the original and sequel have to be games I have played. Using those rules, here are the five best and the five worst.

5. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
The Prince as an Emo Roidhead

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is one of the most revolutionary platformers ever made. Due to its short length and immense popularity, a sequel was inevitable. Unfortunately, that sequel happens to be Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, a game that strips the original of its charm and replaces it with an unnecessary and repetitive heavy metal soundtrack. The crisp and beautiful look of the original is lost, favoring a colorless gothic look in every environment; the story is darker, too, without the ingenious charm of the original's ending; and the main character--the Prince--is morphed into a generic, brooding anti-hero with absolutely no personality and a growing need to find a throat lozenge. While not a terrible game in its own right, it is hardly a worthy successor to The Sands of Time, and the third game of the series, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, is definitely an improvement.

5. King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne

The original King's Quest is a classic PC adventure game in which you play as a knight on a quest to find three valuable treasures that will allow you to become king of the fictional land of Daventry. King's Quest II picks up after the first one ends, with you as King, only now you undergo a quest to find a queen with whom to share your kingdom. The sequel is longer and more epic, forcing you to travel through the sea and air and face off against the one and only Dracula before you can unlock the three gates that lead to your damsel in distress. Easily my favorite game in the entire series, King's Quest II does everything a sequel should and arguably helped start the long-running trend of video game sequels that continues to this day. If you'd like to play it now (or at least an updated version of it), you can download it for free.

4. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Naked Raiden

While I have fond memories of playing through the completely insane closing chapters of Metal Gear Solid 2, I recognize that this entry in the long-running and ever popular Metal Gear Solid series is the weakest link. The main problem, aside from the completely wacked-out ending, is the fact that the main protagonist of the game is not Solid Snake, but rather an androgynous-looking rookie named Raiden. Fans who had been treated to cutscenes and gameplay leading up to the release of the game had no way of knowing that everything they had seen amounted to nothing more than the opening tutorial level of the game, and that most of the rest of the game was completely different. These fans cried foul, and though the series has continued and been successful, few have forgiven Metal Gear Solid 2.

Resident Evil 2
4. Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil, while not the first recognized survival horror video game, defined the genre as it stands today. Still, the game has not aged well (though the Gamecube remake is incredibly good), and many are willing to forget the truly dismal dialogue and voice acting. Resident Evil 2 didn't really improve upon these elements, but it did improve on the gameplay and story. Most die hard fans of the series believe that Resident Evil 2 is the best of the bunch, and it is hard to argue otherwise. While the first game was isolated to a single mansion and underground laboratory, the sequel allows you to explore an entire city (granted in a very linear fashion) crawling with zombies. This is what zombie games are all about, and until Resident Evil 2, it had never been seen before. On top of all that, the game has some of the series' most memorable scares and introduces us to Leon Kennedy, the best character in the Resident Evil universe (aside from maybe Wesker).

3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
Too many lightsabers

The Star Wars brand has officially made its way into almost every single genre of gaming (except maybe survival horror), and most of us remember how we felt the first time we played the exceptional Star Wars RPG Knights of the Old Republic. Still considered one of the greatest RPGs ever made outside of Japan, Knights of the Old Republic was bound to spawn a sequel, and unfortunately, that sequel did not live up to the original. A mess of gliches, rushed plot developments, and an ending that sucks no matter which side of the force you choose, Knights of the Old Republic II effectively killed any chance for a third installment. How such a landmark game can be followed by such a landmark failure is almost beyond belief, and yet it stands as a warning for every game developer out there working on a sequel to a beloved game.

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-e. magill 3/23/2010


Copyright 2010 e. magill. All rights reserved.