Sometimes game sequels are so much improved over the original, they completely obliterate their predecessors. In order to narrow down the list of candidates, I decided to only include direct sequels; otherwise, this list might include a hundred games! Feel free to let us know if we missed any of your favorite sequels.
Silent Hill 2 - PS2 & Xbox
The original Silent Hill was a classic and a huge influence on games, especially the survival-horror genre. Silent Hill 2 was a massive improvement on the original in every way. Having the advantage of the power of the PS2 and the Xbox brought the creepy town and nightmarish monsters to terrifying life. There is a reason this is considered not only one of the best games of all time, but also one of the scariest. It also gave us Pyramid Head. A good thing right?
Just Cause 2 - Xbox 360 & PS3
Just Cause was met with mixed reception upon launch. Just Cause 2’s launch was the exact opposite and rightly so. Just Cause 2 gave players a massive world to wreak havoc in, as well as the tools necessary to do so. More importantly though, the game gave players the freedom to enact their craziest dreams and a versatile grappling hook to bring those dreams to fruition. You can also surf planes. ‘Nuff said.
Saints Row 2 - Xbox 360 & PS3
Saints Row was a GTA imitator which did not do much to set itself apart from other games of its ilk. For the sequel, Violition decided to go all out in the ridiculous department, giving players an open world game unlike any they had ever seen. The series went from a straight-faced gangster story in the original, to having a mission where players drive a truck that shoots sewage at bystanders in the sequel. The shift worked, and three entries later we have played as the President fighting aliens, been to hell, and wielded a dubstep gun. Wub Wub.
Team Fortress 2 - PC
Some players would debate upon whether TF 2 or TF Classic is superior, but it is difficult to argue against TF 2. Since releasing in 2007, the game has received consistent updates packed with additional (FREE) content, and the game itself is completely free to everyone. Diverse classes, great map design, a dedicated community, and varied game modes have helped launch TF 2 into immortality. Now how about learning to count to three Valve?
System Shock 2 - PC
The first System Shock took the world by storm upon its release in 1994. The game was something truly unique and ground-breaking. System Shock 2 was all of that and more. With better technology came a more chilling atmosphere, terrifying enemies, and one of the most unnerving antagonists in gaming: S.H.O.D.A.N. This game is considered one of the greatest and most influential - for good reason, as elements of the game can be seen in releases to this day, most notably the Bioshock series.
Hitman 2 - Xbox, Gamecube, & PS2
Hitman: Codename 47 was an interesting release, but was flawed in some key areas. If not for Agent 47’s presence, Hitman 2 could be mistaken for a completely new franchise. Adding more open levels, player freedom, and ironing out stealth mechanics proved successful for IO Interactive and the Hitman series. Hiitman 2 also led to some of the most memorable levels we have seen in the franchise thus far. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make a trip to St. Petersburg.
Super Smash Bros. Melee - Gamecube
Ah, Super Smash Bros. Many fond memories were had playing SSB on the N64. When released, our inner fanboys squealed in delight as we realized dreams of Nintendo characters duking it out could be a reality. We tolerated the abysmal framerate and the awkward N64 controller for hours on end, simply for the joy and good times to be had.
With the release of the Gamecube came the second entry in the series, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and a host of improvements. Once again, improved technology vastly improved the player experience, resulting in a more stable and enjoyable play session. More characters, inventive stages, and a plethora of modes and extras led to arguably the best Smash game to date. The competitive scene certainly thinks so.
Timesplitters 2 - Xbox, Gamecube, & PS2
Timesplitters was developed by the team at Free Radical, most notably composed of people who had worked on the classic FPS Goldeneye. Timesplitters was met with a warm reception both by critics and players alike. For the sequel, Free Radical went all-out with the zany and ridiculous, leading to a shooter unlike anything before and after it.
How many other shooters allow you to play as monkeys, zombies, ninjas, and all sorts of other characters with one of the most robust and fleshed-out multiplayer experiences to date? The campaign was also great, with varied and interesting levels. You know, everything a good shooter should have. Now if only Crytek would hop to an HD release or a new entry in the series.
Diablo 2 - PC
The original Diablo was a moody hack-n-slash with a dark, Gothic atmosphere and plenty of enemies to transform into gory corpses. The sequel had more of the same, which was not a problem in the case of Diablo, but added even more ways to entice players to play their life hacking away at enemies.
Blizzard added more classes for the sequel. On top of the additional classes, an item crafting system and a new loot classification system were added, along with a host of enhancements for the online experience. Diablo 2 enticed players to click long into the night and has kept them busy to this day.
Halo 2 - Xbox
Halo was a landmark game which helped launch Microsoft’s foray into the console world. Halo was a system seller and the reason many of us gathered for grand multiplayer battles with our friends.
If Halo blew us away, Halo 2 knocked our socks off with a Chuck Norris roundhouse, and then put our socks back on only to blow us out of them again. Halo 2 had a more memorable campaign and more developed story than its predecessor. More importantly though, the sequel’s multiplayer laid the foundation for the multiplayer we know and love today. Besides adding more maps, customization options, and weapons, the addition of online multiplayer via the new Xbox Live service helped invigorate online multiplayer for the console world. When the original Live service was getting shut down, Spartans were still waging battles worldwide.
The release of the Master Chief Collection has allowed players to relive the glory days in glorious HD, further cementing this classic into the memories of players everywhere.
Also, the Arbiter > Master Chief. It had to be said.