Monday, February 13, 2017

Video Game Review: Top 10 best Video Game Sequels Part 1

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 Now before you say anything yes this is in response to the Nostalgia Critics second sequels month and yes there will be a followup of what I consider the worst sequels. Now there will be some rules for this list. First it has to be a direct sequel so games belonging to anthologies like Final Fantasy and Shin Megami Tensei don't count unless the events are directly continued afterwords. Second it has to do something better then the game that preceded it, because sequels are supposed to improve in someway over their originals so cut, copy and past sequels don't count. Third only one sequel per franchise if not then every Ratchet and Clank sequel will be clogging up the list. Last and most importantly it has to be a sequel that I've personally played so if you don't see your favorite on here then simply put I haven't played it so there. So with that out of the way let's get started.

#10 Batman Arkham City

 Before you say anything the reason this is so low is because I preferred Arkham Asylum over Arkham City. I preferred the tight close terrifying atmosphere of the old Asylum over the open space of Arkham City. The first game felt like if Batman were trapped in Rapture from Bioshock, Arkham City still captures the feel of being Batman but I guess the first game just made a better impression on me. Though I can't deny the open world gameplay and the new freedoms that it grants me in Arkham City as well as the other improvements in the story and boss battles. 

 The first Arkham game had very few and far between bosses with the best being Poison Ivy and the worst being of course Titan Joker. So you may be wondering if I've had nothing but praise for the first game why is the sequel on the list? Well I honestly can't deny the improvements in gameplay and freedom that Arkham City grants the player. They've improved the combat system with new gadgets, tightened the counters and improved the flow. Even the stealth sections have improved significantly by adding enemies that can jam and detect your detective vision and even set mines on ledges so you couldn't just camp out and pick your enemies off one by one. This also carries over to the boss battles with the highlights being the battle of brawn with Ra's Al Ghul to the mental struggle of Mr Freeze. 

 Though another reason why Arkham City is so low is due to the Riddler challenges. Not just in the main game those you can beat with a youtube guide and patience but the challenge content is long, tedious and requires expert precision and perfection. I may be an amateur completionist but that is just too much for me. Also the game tried to hold the Catwoman content to pre orders and later 5 dollar DLC and that can't slide by me. So Arkham City may be on the list but for every two steps it took over Asylum it took a step back.

#9 No more Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle

  The frist No More Heroes was my very first encounter with Suda 51 and WOW was it an experience. The crazy boss battles, the story that never took itself too seriously and was delightfully tongue and check, the combat that actually made the Wii's motion control tolerable for me. But best of all is the badass Otaku assassin who doesn't give the slightest amount of a fuck unless you're in between him and getting some tail or cash, Travis Touchdown. The sequel which I honestly never thought was going to happen improves the combat with the alternate Beam Katanas actually feeling and performing differently. It also does us the favor of removing the tedious mini games and replacing them with awesome throwbacks to the 8-bit era as well as chucking out the empty pointless open world. On top of that we get more crazy boss battles, three of which we can take out with different characters including Travis' "apprentice" Shinobu Jacobs and his estranged Irish brother Henry each with their own skills and fighting style.

 The story does actually give Travis a better motivation then just grabbing some ass with his best friend Bishop getting killed by the #1 UAA ranked Assassin Jasper Bat Jr. as revenge for Travis killing his brothers and father in the side missions last game. Even though the game does retcon a few things such as making the UAA a real organization the game itself doesn't really care and quite frankly we appreciate it. But it's still tied down by the Wii controls and while the game promises us 50 assassins we only get around 15 and only 13 of them are fought by Travis. That and not adding anything to replace the removed open world does bring it down a notch in my books. Travis you made the list, but barely. Now if we can finally see you fight against Henchman 21 in Deathbattle we would be especially grateful.

#8 Ratchet and Clank Up your Arsenal.

 Now you could argue that Ratchet and Clank 2 should be here instead, and to a degree you'd be right. The change in gameplay between the first and Second game is undeniable. It got rid of the 4-8 hit health bar and replaced with 100-200 HP, introduced upgradable weapons and weapon mods. But why I'm putting the end of the original trilogy instead is for a few reasons.

 1. we get to customize your fighter ship giving you your own flavor to how you fight in space. 2. you actually got rewarded for playing the last two games with store discounts if the previous game's save data was on your Memory Card, this was the second time I've ever seen that in a game (The first being R&C 2 of course). 3 We actually got some character development for Quark, where he finally started to act like the hero he always thought he was. 4, the last reason why I put this game over Going Commando, this game introduced Dr Nefarious one of the funniest villains in gaming. I mean this guy is such a hilariously over the top cartoon super villain you can't help but love him. 

 What makes him even better is that he shares the same voice actor with Andrew Ryan from Bioshock Armin Shimerman  Learning that fact just makes me want to replay Bioshock but pretend that it's Dr Nefarious instead of Ryan. Which just makes all his scenes go from chilling and menacing to hilarious. Also Lawrence is the perfect straight man to Nefarious' Nicolas Cage esq scene chewing. So kind of a shallow reason but hey this is my list so there; take it up with me personally squishies!!!

#7 Sly 3 Honor Among Thieves.

 Yet another PS2 trilogy ending entry on the list. Now don't worry from here on out we do start to diversify but I just have to say that Sly 3 is my favorite of the Sly Cooper games. First and foremost we actually see the consequences of Sly 2 carry over and isn't just swept under the rug. Murray after failing to keep Clock-La's beak from crippling Bentley goes on a vision quest to find himself and comes out a much more calm and focused man with made up Dream Time powers. The van comes back after drifting away during Jean Bison's Lumberjack games (not important but had to mention). 

 But best of all Bentley becomes 1000 more awesome after ending up in his wheelchair. No really he outfits his chair with various weapons and gadgets and can seriously handle himself in a fight despite what you may think. He even gets a girlfriend who's a match for him intellectually, can hold her own in a fight if need be and the two just click. (which makes what happens in Sly 4 all the more exasperating, I'll get to that on the next list trust me.)

 We also get new playable characters for some missions, both old and new faces including The Guru AKA Koala Yoda. The old faces were the real treat, Dimitri who becomes an informant for several cases and eventually an official member of the Cooper team, Muggshot who you can finally beat down like a real man with the awesome Inspector Fox. But the last member was the biggest shock for me as a kid, The Panda King, the man who helped kill Sly's dad and buried mountain villages in hundreds of pounds of snow was recruited to the team. And believe me Sly was not happy about it initially but the once member of the Fiendish 5 would go to any lengths even working with the son of the man he killed to save his daughter from one of the most hateful villains in the franchise. 

 Another refreshing change of pace is that the villains weren't all part of the same group, just random crime bosses that the team had to deal with to recruit the people needed for the Cooper Vault heist. The negatives however seem small but make up for quantity with quality. This game got rid of the clue bottles, recon photos and the treasures. The clue bottles were just a personal favorite of mine, a little bit of a collectathon that wasn't too long, not too short but just long and challenging enough that it didn't overstay its welcome. The recon photo mission may have been repetitive but did help the framework of the team and show their competence as a gang of master thieves.

 Now granted some of their jobs might have seemed straight forward but as Sly 2 showed these jobs never go exactly as planed and recon photos could be the difference between 10 figures in your bank account or 10 to life in jail. On the note of immersion wouldn't a thief like Sly want to steal everything valuable belonging to these guys that isn't nailed down? Besides now that the easy cash source was gone we had to rely even more on pickpocketing for new upgrades, which means more time and less fun in some peoples' cases. But the biggest gripe I had was the 3D, I absolutely hate 3D and when the only way is with those old stupid red and blue glasses it only served as the icing on the annoyance cake. In the immortal words of everybody's favorite fuck mothering vampire "It's a stupid fucking gimmick and everyone knows it!" So with those Sly manages to take the #7 spot

#6 Kingdom Hearts 2.5
Now I'm going with 2.5 because it is the complete definitive version of Kingdom Hearts 2 (At least until it re releases for PS4. Square Enix, seriously either give those who bought the collections for PS3 a major discount or don't even bother because knowing that I dropped cash for a last gen collection only to find out a few years later they're getting re-released for PS4 is nothing short of piss boiling. Now don't get me wrong I will get that collection eventually but not Day 1 and not with my money. Because, just like how I got the Bioshock collection these collections do make for good Christmas list filler as well as the price going down pretty far in the intervening months between release and Christmas so HO HO HO Square! )
 Ok rant over on to the good parts of Kingdom Hearts 2. We don't just get new worlds to explore we get world exclusive forms as well. My favorite levels are of course The Pride Lands, Space Paranoids and The World that never was, with Sora being a lion for the first, getting a Tron esq outfit for the second and the general creepy, intimidating and impressive atmosphere for the third. Outside of the world exclusive outfits Sora can also channel his inner Shouichi Tsugami and has access to a red power form, a blue long-range mode (I know Agito's blue form was mid-range but you get the geist), a midrange power form, a white shinning final form and in 2.5 a form borrowing the powers of his old set. The combat system get action commands added which adds unique flair to defeating enemies and the Gummy Ship segments are much shorter and streamlined. (Though I do prefer the Gummi Ship in the first game but the removal of the need to travel between worlds until you get the wrap upgrade is a nice touch, once you beat the course once you technically don't have to do it again unless you really want too.)

 The extra bosses in this game are mean, nasty and will cause you to snap your controller in half. I only need to mention two names, Data Luxord and The Lingering Will; anyone who's played this game especially on the hardest setting will be sent into a world of pure anger, madness and evil the likes of which nobody has seen before. But for everything good in this game the bad parts are just criminal. I personally would have liked to play in the Timeless River for longer then we did, but nope one level and boom done. But that was just a small gripe compared to the two parts of this game that really smashed a Keyblade against my skull.

 First (literally) being THE FIRST 6 HOURS OF THE GAME WITH ROXAS!!! Oh my god that was the longest, most boring and most tedious tutorial level I have ever had the displeasure of ever playing! I almost gave up the first time I played it if I'm remembering it right due to the sheer tedium of those first hours. Now, Pop Quiz kiddies what is the purpose of the tutorial and first level of games? Introducing the mechanics in a quick, entertaining and immersive way that doesn't overstay its welcome in a way that once the player knows which buttons do what they can just go on their merry little way. So Kingdom Hearts 2, 1 out of 5 questions right, F please see me after class!

 Then the cherry on top of the sundae, they made Atlantica into a musical rhythm level with some of the most annoying music around. Though thankfully you can just press the mute button and follow the button prompts so it's not as bad as it could have been. But holding out on the extra content for the Japanese audience while leaving the rest of the world with the bare basics until this rerelease? Smooth Square-Enix, smooth, one small constellation in this new digital age is that updates and new features for games is but a click away. But regardless Kingdom Hearts does stumble in a few places but improves over the first game and Chain of Memories enough to make the 6th spot of this list. But do keep an ear out because next time I'll give my honorable mentions as well as my personal Top 5 Video Game Sequels.

Ratchet and Clank is owned by Insomniac Games and Sony Computer Entertainment.
Batman Arkham City is owned by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Rocksteady Studios and DC Comics
Sly Cooper 3: Honor Among Thieves is owned by Sucker Punch Productions and Sony Computer Entertainment of America
No More Heroes 2 Desperate Struggle is owned by Suda51 (Goichi Suda), Grasshopper Manufacture, Ubisoft and Rising Star Games.
Kingdom Hearts is owned by Square Enix, Disney Interactive Studios, Tetsuya Nomura, and Shinji Hashimoto.