When is enough, enough? This thought plagued my thoughts as I gazed at my already scarce collection of Playstation 3 titles and found that 75% of them were populated by Assassin’s Creed games. It occured to me that in a few short months I would be handing over another $60 to own the latest installment of a series of games that I have come to love, hate, and everything in between. It has been months since Revelations was released and I have yet to finish the game. So much of today’s media is stuck in the world of Sequeldom and the video game universe is far from immune to this disease. Our consoles are filled with not ‘games’ but franchises and InsertTitleHere XXVII.
I have mixed feelings about sequels. After all, there are two sides to every coin and I always do my best to look at both sides. Maybe someday I’ll come across a penny with a picture of Cthulu in place of Lincoln’s head.
My main problem with the recent surplus of sequels is that they leave less room for any real developments, especially where modern-day consoles like the Playstation 3 is concerned. Sequels are safe. Companies are able to invest in a franchise that they know is already succesfully, slap on the same name, and droves of rabid fangirls and boys will line up at the door. Assassin’s Creed is a wonderful example of this. The first game was a strong concept if a little repetetive at times. The second game more or less made up for the short-comings of the first game. What about Brotherhood and Revelations? More of the same and with the impending release of Assassin’s Creed III the air feels with a certain degree of apprehension. Will it be more of the same? Or will Ubisoft manage to make a truly good game? In the end, it hardly matters. I will be there on release day to pick up the latest installment of the series if only to flesh out my already growing collection. So, while developers are busy playing it safe with ‘more of the same’ it leaves little room for any real earth-shattering innovations.
As a result, a girl who once said she would never throw her console to the wayside in favor of her PC instead finds herself turning increasingly to the world of indie-developers through outlets such as Steam. And why not? I pay a fraction of the price for a short game that brings more enjoyment, more awe, and more admiration than the 30+ hours I would spend racing around the streets of Rome, or whatever, again. Games like Bastion display a real sense of art and storytelling. I finished the game and felt, despite the open ending, fulfilled. Most of the console games I pick up in recent years leave the game not-quite-wrapped-up to leave room for the possibility of a sequel, or more downloadable content, or spin-off games for the iPhone. To me, video games, like movies and other media, are a form of art, but when artistry is thrown to the wayside in favor of quick profits– it makes my stomach writhe in disgust.
On the other hand, I do love a good sequel. It is so easy to fall in love with a certain setting, a story line, a group of characters, even a concept and want the opportunity to revisit it. And why not? If a developer has created a world and a storyline that allows for expansion, by all means, they should take that opportunity. Seize the moment, so to speak. Sequels give developers the opportunity not only to expand on stories, concepts, characters, but to take things to another level by rethinking gameplay dynamics, taking into consideration things that ‘did not quite work’ the first time around and redefining them. Assassin’s Creed II is a wonderful example of this. It took the story, characters, and succesful aspects of Assassin’s Creed and smoothed out all the little kinks.
I only wish that some game publishers would take a hint from the literary world, where we are often waiting years for the next installment in our favorite series. Creating art takes time. Creating a good game takes even longer. I would rather wait an extra year to have a good game than be handed a mediocre release every year in an attempt to make a quick profit.