Half-Life 2 – the best sequel ever?

GameCentral readers discuss their favourite ever video game sequels, from Street Fighter II to Zelda: A Link To The Past.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader NL, as a counter to last week’s Hot Topic about the worst sequels ever made. From franchise reboots to incremental improvements we wanted to know what you think has been the best ever video game follow-up.

Interestingly, most tended to be fairly old games, such as Street Fighter II, Half-Life 2, and Zelda: A Link To The Past, with relatively few modern sequels getting a look in.

 

Gold and silver
I’m a bit stuck on this one as it’s either Half-Life 2 or Portal 2, but either way Valve wins. Of course the tragedy here is that they no long make video games, after originally having given up the idea of making sequels by following Half-Life 2 up with episodic games that they never bothered finishing. A travesty really but that’s no taking way from what they achieved.

I think Half-Life 2 has got to be the best simply because at the time it seemed so perfect. More than that I think it has a good claim to be the dividing line between the more old fashioned games of the PlayStation 2 era and more modern titles. It had everything: amazing graphics, open world areas, and great storytelling.

Nowadays you can pick holes with the gunplay, which isn’t that great, and it’s slightly too long in parts, but for it to stand up as well as it does now over a decade later is a real achievement. Portal 2 is great as well, of course, and probably has less flaws overall. But it also doesn’t move the game on as much from the original. So I’ll only call it the second best sequel ever made.
Parzival

 

SNES sequels
In over 27 years of gaming I’ve played my fair share of sequels.

After the general relentless slog of Zelda II (NES) I played Zelda: A Link To The Past In the good summer of 1993 and was blown away. A different isometric perspective, amazing soundtrack, great level design, and gorgeous graphics (which stand up to this day), A Link To The Past was everything its predecessor was not, and a lot more. I actually prefer it to Ocarina Of Time, which is the biggest compliment a game can get.

My other choice would be Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. The original was fun, albeit of very low difficulty and was most notable for style over substance, known for its then cutting edge graphics.

The sequel was much more challenging, with levels requiring all your skills to master (Animal Antics and Castle Crush) and showcased the superior level design, a wider range of animals to control, and a darker tone; this entry remains the pinnacle for the Donkey Kong Country series.
Steve Derricourt (MAINEVENTMAFIA – PSN ID)

 

Race winner
This was an easy one for me and a franchise that first got me into PlayStation! With many fond memories I look back on Gran Turismo, at the time I was blown away… but imagine just how I felt after Gran Turismo 2!

It actually was so MUCH better with the Seattle and Tahiti tracks added, plus so many more cars. Polphony Digital nailed it again with this one and once again, after all the delays, was definitely worth waiting for even the actual discs smelt of rubber, petrol, and oil – a very nice touch that was too!

Been playing GT since it started, I particularly love how Polyphony Digital keep giving us free updates to this game (always have done). Other studios take note if you’re reading this.
marcs73 (PSN ID) – see you on the racetrack people!

 

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Sensible suggestion
Had to write in for this one as you always say don’t assume someone else will write in with your choice.

I’m going old school with this one, but it has to be Sensible World Of Soccer. I was already a fan of Sensi but World Of Soccer took it to another level. Every league in world football was playable. The career mode was one of the best manager games of the time and the gameplay was slightly upgraded from the original Sensible Soccer. Although the gameplay is not the most realistic, I have still not played another football game that gives me the feeling and tension of an actual football match that Sensi does. I still play it from time to time on my Xbox 360 and of course it has a great intro/theme tune.

Also, special mention to Perfect Dark, which I liked probably more than GoldenEye but it doesn’t get as much recognition. I still think Microsoft should bring it back, not as a first person shooter but maybe a third person single-player spy adventure to rival the Sony formula games. Hopefully Microsoft try something like this next gen and stop relying on Forza, Halo, and Gears.
Mcfly1888

 

Evil answer
Well, there can be only one answer, can’t there. Like The Highlander. This is Resident Evil 4. Still riding high in my own personal top 10 games I have ever played and in the lists of many others, it was one of those iconic, landmark moments. Bafflingly, some people put God Of War ahead of it when it came to game of the year awards.

Now, God Of War was also pretty great – but come on, now – there was no real contest. If you did that at the time or still think so to this day then sure, you are entitled to that completely wrong opinion just as I am entitled to look at you like you are an idiot.

This had just come off the heels of the Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil Zero, two games which both contributed to the established formula beginning to feel stale. Zero because it was kind of mediocre and boasted the blandest leads so far – at least 6 still had Leon and Ada and the remake, which while very nice and atmospheric didn’t really help a series move forward by literally going back to the start. So, a little self-indulgent. I don’t begrudge Capcom that, but it was still self-indulgent. But just a bit! Don’t lynch me!

Resident Evil 4 came with its goofy humour and exceptional gunplay mechanics that just blasted apart the old ways like Leon blasted a Ganado in its face. Still eminently playable to this very day, the only problem is that a HDTV will make the colours a bit murky – especially in darkness. And guess what? A game called Resident Evil has a lot of dark bits. Played it a few years back on either the PlayStation 2 or GameCube and you would be practically blind in darkened sections.

But who’s going to go to the trouble of setting up an old CRT telly? I got rid of mine years ago so I’d have to buy one. And they take up a ridiculous amount of space. A minor nuisance, though. I certainly wouldn’t be petty enough to deduct a point over it… Ahem. Unsubtle hint.

I bet you’ll get some people say Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. Although, the Zelda template is more evergreen in some respects. Sure, it was desirable to go in a bold, new direction – a breath of fresh air, if you will – but would anybody have scored it less than an 8 out of 10 had it been more traditional? I doubt it. It wouldn’t have blown anyone away, but as probably Link’s Awakening proves, that formula is practically foolproof.
DMR

 

Godly improvements
I’m tempted to say God Of War for this as although it’s a soft reboot it is a direct sequel, it just hasn’t got a four on the end of its name. Even if it’s not the best it’s definitely the most improved one. I mean, I hated the originals and was not interested in the new one at all until I started to see the reviews.

Even then I wasn’t entirely convinced, but I gave it a go and it blew me away not only with its quality but the way it used the grimdark origins to tell a better story than if it had started from scratch. Now that’s a good sequel!
Squarey

 

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

 

90s classic
My first thought for best sequel was my default go to for pretty much any ‘best’ or ‘favourite’ game question: Zelda: A Link To The Past. It’s the perfect distillation of 2D Zelda and, in almost every way, remained the blueprint for the structure of every Zelda game for the next 26 years. Then I remembered that it’s technically a prequel to The Legend Of Zelda, Zelda II, and Link’s Awakening. I also found it hard to believe that no one’s managed to put out another candidate since 1991.

Of course there have been other contenders, Half-Life 2, Super Mario Galaxy, Resident Evil 4, Star Wars: TIE Fighter… so many to choose. Even looking at the modern era, there are plenty of possible candidates. Keeping it Zelda for a second, for my money, Breath Of The Wild is such a leap in quality from Skyward Sword it almost boggles my mind they’re part of the same series by the same developer.

I think GTA V and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are excellent examples of current iterations of great franchises that are refined to a pinnacle it’s difficult to see how the developers can improve with their next efforts.

But then it struck me. It’s got to be Street Fighter II, hasn’t it? I’ve got to confess I’ve never played the original Street Fighter. I’ve seen numerous playthrough videos, but surely there’s never been a video game sequel that’s done more to raise the profile of its own series and establish the structure, aesthetic, and gameplay dynamic of an entire genre as Capcom’s flagship one-on-one fighter sequel.

Growing up in the 90s I remember it being massive. Every kid at school knew what it was. Everyone had a favourite character. Knew all the moves. Maybe not how to pull them off, but at least what they were and how they were supposed to work. Each new version, both official and hacked, created a fresh wave of borderline hysteria as people rushed to their nearest arcade to try it out and boast about their achievements in the playground afterwards.

If you didn’t have a SNES and your own copy or couldn’t hadoken your way to victory against your mates at the arcade you were nothing. Mastering the dragon punch felt like the 1991 equivalent of gittin’ good at Dark Souls. I don’t remember any other game that’s been so universally acclaimed and adored by an entire generation.

It’s stood the test of time so well, as far as I can tell vastly improves upon its predecessor, influenced an incalculable number of copycats, wannabes and imitators. It’s led the field in one of the most popular genres of all time since it came out, and was so good to start with even its own creators could only tinker and tweak the formula for every subsequent game. Its own best sequel, IV, is virtually a remake. A brilliant remake, that reignited the genre for modern times, but still.

Checking up, it seems that it originally came out in… 1991. Perhaps the early 90s really were as awesome as I now like to remember them being?
yourhomeisatrisk

GC: A Link To The Past has a direct sequel in 2013’s A Link Between Worlds.

 

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