I firmly believe that, unlike any other medium, videogame sequels generally tend to out-perform their predecessors. Hollywood continues to crank out sequels that shame and defile what came before them, yet the game industry has managed to avoid that trend… for the most part. Today, I’m going to talk about five videogame sequels that have dropped the ball in epic, disappointing ways. Read on, and see if you agree with me.
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within
Let me begin by saying that Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the second entry in Ubisoft’s three-part Sands of Time story, is a highly underrated game. It’s a game that critics have always had a little too much fun bashing, and while some of it is deserved, exaggerations run rampant.
However, it can’t be denied that Warrior Within dropped the ball in some embarrassing ways. Blood, gore, language, and scantily clad women aren’t offensive in and of themselves – but the way that they were portrayed, in stark contrast to The Sands of Time‘s storybook atmosphere, was almost humorous. In an attempt to appeal to a wider audience, much of Warrior Within came off as just that – a shameless attempt to appeal to a wider, less tasteful audience. Good thing the gameplay is as fantastic as ever, and the story is actually pretty damned interesting.
Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse
I’m well aware of the fact that I largely stand alone with my love for the Xenosaga trilogy. Nonetheless, all you haters can go suck a wet sock; it’s one of the best sci-fi stories ever told, and the series features some solid role-playing mechanics to boot.
….with the exception of the oft-maligned second entry, Jenseits von Gut und Böse. The storytelling in Episode II is still fantastic. What’s LEFT of it, at least. In another attempt to appeal to wider audiences, Namco chopped a lot of cutscene footage from the game, hoping that 20 minute cutscenes would be viewed as more “accessible” than 40 minute cutscenes. Make sense to you? Nah, me neither. What makes LESS sense is the utter destruction of the combat system from Episode I, and the subsequent implementation of a system that would made regular encounters take over 10 minutes to complete. Ouch, Namco. Ouch.
Devil May Cry 2
There isn’t much good to say about Devil May Cry 2, honestly. I suppose I could mention the fact that the combat is as flashy, fast-paced, and fun as its predecessor. But that’s hard to notice when the soul has essentially been sucked from the game. It’s not like the Devil May Cry franchise has ever been known for deep storytelling, but DMC2 falls to new depths. At least let Dante talk, for christ’s sake; it’s a little too late to portray him as a silent protagonist. Oh, and if I could just have the slightest inkling of where the hell I was and why at any given time, that would be nice too.
Final Fantasy X-2
I have an intense loathing for Final Fantasy X-2 that, in all honesty, isn’t entirely justified. I view the game as a stab in the back from Square Enix, in a sense. I absolutely loved Final Fantasy X, and I couldn’t have been more excited to see a direct sequel continue the story. And then when it finally arrived, X-2 proceeded to slowly break my heart over the course of, oh, 20 measly hours or so.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: X-2 is a game that could make a gay man feel girly. The constant, recurring “girl power” bullshit never failed to revolt me. The amusing thing is that I still can’t quite figure out who Square Enix was trying to appeal to. If I was a woman, I’d be offended by the ridiculously stereotypical and slightly sexist portrayals of the three main characters. As a dude I was just plain disgusted.
That aside, I have more “legitimate” complaints, if you will: THE STORY SUCKED. The plot, the characters, the pacing, the presentation, EVERY conceivable aspect. In a follow-up to Final Fantasy X‘s beautiful story about love, sacrifice, and self-discovery, we get an elongated Powerpuff Girls episode about… um… well, nothing really. Something about a giant robot and two ancient people who, for some inexplicable reason, look exactly like Tidus and Yuna. Oh, and the fact that you could easily miss the vast majority of it by not happening to be in a certain place at a certain time didn’t help. (Seriously, how the hell am I supposed to know to return to the depths of Bevelle after chapter 10? Good thing all I miss is a rather integral cutscene.) But yeah, the battle system was great. Overshadowed by the game’s utter crappiness perhaps, but still great.
Duke Nukem Forever
Haha… ha… hahahaha.
No, I couldn’t come up with a fifth example. Live with it.