Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Worst video game sequel

Crackdown 2 – not a series blessed with great sequels

GameCentral readers name and shame their least favourite sequels, from Resident Evil 6 to Assassin’s Creed Unity.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked what follow-up have you found the most disappointing and why?

We had plenty of different suggestions from all eras of gaming but there were a few names that popped up multiple times, namely Capcom’s Devil May Cry 2 and Resident Evil 6, and the reliably unpopular Mass Effect: Andromeda.


Zero redemption
I’d say Crackdown 2 is the most disappointed I’ve been in a sequel.

Like many I really enjoyed the first one; hunting down agility orbs to leap around the city with increasing absurdity was enormous fun but the sequel just felt tired and bereft of ideas. It’s been a while since I’ve played it admittedly, but if memory serves it was exactly like the first one but with groups of zombies thrown in (maybe I missed something and it was a satire on the gaming industry).

As a PlayStation 4 owner without the opportunity to play the third game it was still disappointing to see that title’s poor reception, probably putting paid to any future redemption down the line.
Andrew Wright


Generic rage
I have two picks for most disappointing sequels.

The first is Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within. The game ignored all of the charm and whimsy of its predecessor and replaced it with bad language, extreme violence, an unlikeable protagonist, and women who were allergic to proper clothing. If those things made it more ‘mature’ then I’ll happily stick with the ‘immature’ Sands Of Time thank you very much.

The second is Mass Effect 3. It wasn’t just the controversial ending that I took issue with. But also the fact that every choice made in the previous games had only a superficial impact on the story. Ultimately my choices didn’t matter and very few characters got the pay-off that they deserved. A disappointing end to what should have been a great trilogy.


Nintendo’s worst
There are many games that I could name for worst video game sequel. To name a few of the worst contenders would include Perfect Dark Zero, Resident Evil 6, and Final Fantasy XIII, but I have chosen to shame quite possibly not one of the most obvious.

Yoshi’s Island is regarded as one of the SNES’s greatest games, and rightly so. The sequel on N64, despite mostly favourable reviews, wasn’t even close. Yoshi’s Story on N64 was a shallow, repetitive, and dull experience throughout. Despite the novel visual style, the level design was very basic and insultingly easy. Yoshi’s Story lacked the charm of its predecessor and had an annoying chorus of Yoshi’s singing between levels!

To name another, more modern game, would be Chibi-Robo! Zip Lash. The original was one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences on the GameCube and somewhat overlooked, a Toy Story Influenced 3D platform adventure.

Granted, it’s sequel on DS, Park Patrol, was passable, but not released at retail in the UK. Zip Lash was a basic, boring and dull 2D platformer with little challenge and bad level design. To quote a famous movie, ‘these aren’t the droid(s) you’re looking for!’
Steve Derricourt (MAINEVENTMAFIA – PSN ID)


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Odd exceptions
I had trouble thinking of sequels I have disliked as I tend to read Edge, GameCentral, and Eurogamer’s reviews so don’t often get a game I dislike. I have avoided sequels where the original was very good and then the sequel has reviewed poorly. I loved Deus Ex when I played it in 2000 and I was really excited about the sequel, but then when the middling reviews came in I decided not to get Deus Ex: Invisible War. I liked Deus Ex: Human Revolution and I am part way through Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which I have enjoyed so far.

I’ve played a lot of the Assassin’s Creed games but although I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed Unity I found it was one of the weakest in the series because you couldn’t pick up and hide bodies if you wanted to be stealthy, which the other games had. I started Assassin’s Creed Liberation on PC a few years ago and I know it was originally a PS Vita game but I didn’t like it as it was very simplistic (obviously because it was on a handheld system previously, not to say all games on handhelds are simplistic) and also very buggy on PC.
Andrew J.


Dishonourable mention
I think as long as there have been successful, new IP video games (and movies for that matter) there have always been ample examples of sequels that have just been chucked out to try and scoop in more money from prospective players. In a similar vein there’s also those franchises that have just gone on and on, with me sometimes wondering why they’re still getting made (although mine’s only one opinion – people must be still buying them after all!)

Your yearly FIFAs and Call Of Duties do seem worth a punt, as they do chuck new campaigns and features in to keep you interested, but I think some of the most prominent games series do have some examples of some awful entries. I do recall getting very bored, very quickly with Gears Of War 4 by the time it came out and it prompted me to switch to a PlayStation 4, as it was one of the few exclusives that had kept me on the Xbox One.

I think it got good reviews at the time, but it just didn’t seem to add anything for me. Obviously I haven’t played Gears 5 but viewing some of the trailers/gameplay media it’s still not something that I feel I’m missing out on, like I did when I was sat on the other side of the console fence.

Mass Effect: Andromeda is my biggest let down of this generation, and I don’t think anything’s ever going to beat it. I’m not even talking about the annoying bugs and animation glitches that you saw in the game either, as annoying as they were. For me it just lacked imagination and content compared to its predecessors and really didn’t pull me in at all. None of the characters were very memorable and the story was pretty drab; just seemed like it was thought up in a day and just given a, ‘Meh, that’ll do’ green light. I can only hope that the next Dragon Age (if that’s BioWare’s next big release) is given a bit more vibrance in terms of its story and content.

Other ‘honourable’ mentions could go to Resident Evil 5 and 6, which essentially turned a good survival horror series into a very average shooter, before it got back to its roots. And Devil May Cry 2, which seemed to strip out all the good points from the first Devil May Cry and become a bland hacking slog with little to no challenge. Although I’m sure I’m not alone in being happy that the series rebounded from this quite well.

Has there ever been an Inbox for suggestions of sequels that have been the best for a series? Taking them to new heights after a successful (or non-successful) opener?
PS: On a separate, unrelated note; I noticed that the Inbox just seems to be plain text lately without the borders/boxes around each entry when I view online. Not sure if it’s just me or an issue with the page?

GC: The text boxes were causing some of the recent problems with adverts acting oddly, so we took them out. Hopefully it’s still readable without them. And yes, we’ll probably do that Hot Topic as well soon.


Death Catalyst
For some reason Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is the one that came to mind. It’s not a terrible game but it was a horrible disappointment to me and killed the franchise through it’s failure. It’s also one of a small, but not inconsiderable number of games that would’ve been better without an open world.

I can still play the original game now and again and enjoy it. But everything about Catalyst just feels flat and empty. Maybe it just proved that the original was a flawed idea that would never get any better but I think it was just a case of forcing gimmicks that were popular at the time (the skill tree was also unnecessary) on a game that didn’t need them.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Horrific sequels
Slightly harking back to last weeks’ Hot Topic about video game scares, I’m going to plump for a couple of horror sequels as my choices for most disappointing follow-ups.

First up is Dead Space 3. Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two, I was really looking forward to seeing Isaac’s battle against the Necromorphs reach some kind of epic, gore drenched, mind-bending finale. Yet what I got was a game that not only looked worse than either the gritty original or its super glossy sequel, but played like a rough and repetitive slog.

The premise of exploring the lost space fleet was interesting, but every ship you visited was just an identical series of locked survival rooms featuring endless waves of the same enemies, time after time. To me, the weapons lacked any of the practicality or satisfying heft of the previous games and the dismemberment mechanics and creature designs felt sub-par for the series.

I don’t remember a single memorable set piece, whereas the first and second were full of them. I didn’t really feel like the story was all that compelling, and the game’s final boss fight just seemed daft somehow. There was also the fact that, as a primarily solo player I felt gypped that so much of the game was locked behind a two-player only wall.

It clearly underperformed and EA pulled the plug on the franchise, which seemed such a shame for such an initially promising IP, especially given the things I’ve seen and read subsequently about the concepts Visceral had for the fourth entry.

My second pick is kind of a double whammy, but it’s got to be Resident Evils 5 and 6. To be honest, it’s mostly 6. Resident Evil 5 did disappoint me, but a lot of that was to do with the fact that it was very clearly in the shadow of the landmark fourth entry. It’s a shame it wasn’t literally in the shadow of 4 as one of my bugbears with 5 was the fact that it was almost all set in daylight and if there’s one thing I feel Resident Evil needs, it’s a certain amount of darkness.

However, despite my initial impressions, I persevered and found there was still plenty to enjoy. A solid game. Just not quite what I was hoping for.

But then came Resident Evil 6. From the initial trailers I thought it looked great. The reality was I found it to be anything but. As far as I’m concerned it’s one of the worst games I’ve played, in as long as I can remember. I’m not going to go on at length as to why I didn’t rate it. At the time, I wrote two rather long (and somewhat unpopular with the Underbox) missives to GC about my reasons for not enjoying it. It felt like it outright killed the series for me.

Suffice to say it was only the total change of direction taken in Resident Evil 7 and its overwhelmingly positive reviews that tempted me back to the series. That I did like. I preferred the remake of ResidentEvil 2, but based on Capcom’s recent output, I’m a lot more optimistic about 8 than I was for 7, after 6.

I admired the fact that the developer seemed to acknowledge and confront the less than glowing reception to their previous work, and take considerable time and trouble to craft something different, pushing things forward but also managing to bring back many of the series signature features that made the games great in the first place.

And therein lies what I feel is key to producing a great and worthy sequel to a video game. So long as any given developer takes long enough between a game and its sequel to do a decent job of crafting the thing, I’m more than happy to see sequels to games I’ve enjoyed. Especially if they introduce innovative and suitable changes or additions to the existing template, whilst still staying true to the original concept.

I’m not sure how I’d like it if every game I was a fan of got iterative, yearly, full price sequels where you can only tell you’ve got the latest version because of the number on the front of the box.


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The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

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