10 Sub Par Sequels that Dropped the Ball

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While writing both of my posts on sequels (which were better than the original) I came to realize there are just as many sequels that were disappointments. As with the other sequel lists, I have tried to limit entrants to direct sequels otherwise I could go on for some time (some exceptions may apply). So let’s jump into this well of disappointment and dredge up some painful memories, eh?

Crackdown 2

The original Crackdown was essentially a superhero sandbox game where you had guns, too. By using your various abilities (jumping, shooting, driving, etc.), you increased your strength in that area and became stronger. Before you knew it, you were leaping buildings in a single bound, outrunning cars, and had cars that could transform into armored tanks. It was mindless fun at its best! So what did the sequel do to mess all of that up? Nothing at all.

The developers literally changed the bare minimum between the sequel and the original. A stupid story about zombies (of course) was added and that was about it. Sure, there were some minor mission additions or weapons, but on as a whole, Crackdown 2 felt exactly like the first one. In fact, it felt like cheap, rushed DLC that the developers decided qualified as a full-fledged, full-priced release. Needless to say, it was a major disappointment.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot

Condemned: Criminal Origins recently made my list of criminally underrated games you should play; but, please, skip the sequel. Actually, play the sequel until the last quarter of the game. The last quarter of the game is where the shark gets jumped five times. Consecutively. The game then circles back to the shark, beats the shark to death, and proceeds to eat it.

Let’s just say the last parts of this game are so ridiculously stupid, they make Adam Sandler movies look like intelligent entertainment.

What makes the game great is the melee brawling system and the atmosphere. It is rewarding, visceral, and intimate; not an easy feat to achieve. So for some reason, Monolith decided what players needed where more guns than usual resulting in the most boring peek-a-boo game I have played which goes in complete contrast to the entire game you have played to that point. Also, your character gains an ability to scream which can make the heads of your enemies explode…. Like I said, it gets dumb. Such wasted potential.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

Monolith Productions is on a roll here! F.E.A.R. was a fantastic shooter and a decent horror game to boot. With satisfying gunplay, destructive weapons (Penetrator FTW!), creepy atmosphere, and your slow-mo abilities, the game was great. So what did they do wrong with the sequel? Everything.

While you once again played a soldier with slow-mo powers, that is where the resemblances to the original end. Gone was the creepy atmosphere and environments to be replaced with uninspired locales (the theater was good though). The A.I. seemed a step down from the original. A convoluted and unfulfilling story was thrown in along with mech armor sequences. This is probably the only time I will ever complain about using mech armor in a game.

The game was the opposite of the original in nearly every way. And guess what? Spoiler! The game ends with your character being raped by Alma, the creepy girl with supernatural powers who haunts you the entire series. Great way to end a game there!

Rainbow Six Vegas 2

Rainbow Six Vegas brought some much-needed life into the tactical shooter series when it released in 2006. With great cooperative play, gadgets to discover, and tons of weapons to use, the game was a fun, tactical romp in Sin City. The sequel was seemingly another case of lazy copy and pasting.

While some new mechanics were added and the A.I. of your teammates was improved, the sense of déjà vu was strong with this one. It didn’t help that this sequel was also a prequel. While it was still a fun cooperative experience, you couldn’t help but want for more. Now to see what the future holds for Rainbow Six Siege! 

BioShock Infinite

I said before BioShock 2 was a better game than the original, but surely I am crazy when I say BioShock Infinite was disappointing right? No can do, Charlie.

Yes, the story, while pretentious and up its own arse, was great; the gameplay and design had a lot of issues and unfulfilled potential. The game seemed to take no lessons from BioShock 2. While the previous games had good gunplay and a degree of player freedom when in combat, Infinite was a corridor shooter. Sure, the corridors were large and pretty, but gone was the player freedom from past entries. While we were promised Elizabeth could bring in various objects through rifts during combat to assist Booker in combat, in reality you could only use rifts at certain points to bring in some predetermined objects.

There was also the gameplay and world dissonance. In Rapture, everything was tied together by narrative and design. Plasmids made sense in the world because they were integrated into the city design and were included in the narrative. In Infinte, plasmids were thrown in simply because it was what people expected from a BioShock title. At the end of the day, Infinite is still a great game, but we should be honest about its faults. 

Deus Ex: Invisible War

Deus Ex was a landmark gaming achievement. Lauded for its open-ended gameplay and world, the game was met with accolades and is considered to this day one of the best games ever released. Needless to say, the sequel had massive shoes to fill.

Deus Ex: Invisible War is not a bad game by any means, but when you have to follow a legendary act, you get the short end of the stick no matter how good you are (BioShock 2 anyone?). The game was praised for some improvements made upon the original, but also criticized for carrying over some of the original’s faults such as the enemy A.I. and questionable design decisions. To this day, the opinions of players are still split regarding the game. Some love it; some hate it. It still remains a great game, just overshadowed by its big brother.

Uncharted 2

My feelings on the Uncharted series have been documented here before. Uncharted was not a particularly good game, but there was a glimmer of greatness under all the faults the game had. When I began to play the sequel, I had my fingers crossed the game would improve upon the potential of its predecessor and deliver a good or great game. I had high hopes with the opening train sequence, but it went downhill from there.

Somehow, Drake got even more irritating and smug than before, an impressive feat to accomplish. The story was nonsensical with imprudent characters and unfulfilled potential (poor Chloe). The gameplay and gunplay both got worse. The worst part was the condescending nature of the game itself.

The hints are delivered in such a patronizing way and the lack of respect for the player with the “Simon Says” ancient “puzzles” was grating beyond all measure. Simply put, the game is a smug mess, much like Nathan Drake. 

The Walking Dead: Season Two

The Walking Dead: Season One was a remarkable game that helped cement Telltale’s reputation for being remarkable storytellers. It was an emotional tale that resonated with players and actually elicited emotional responses from whoever played it. While it was not perfect, the faults were overshadowed by the strengths of the game. With the sequel, the faults were more glaring and harder to overlook.

Season Two let us down in a number of ways.

The characters seemed to make dumber decisions than they usually did and the writers also seemed determined to ensure you ended up in certain situations no matter what you did. For me, the worst part was the final conflict between Kenny and Jane. It was a good idea and setup to have the two going at each other, but the way the final fight turned out to be a total letdown. There was one way to make the game end with a poetically bittersweet finale, but the season as a whole was still a disappointment.

Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age: Origins was a great throwback to CRPGs of old. With tactical combat, a fantastic narrative filled with great characters, and the terrific tactics system, the game was a treat for all lovers of RPGs. Like most great games, it was not without flaws (some technical and performance issues and subpar graphical fidelity), but the trees could be overlooked for the forest. With

With Dragon Age 2, you ran into every tree while trying to navigate the forest.

I was so excited for this one; I preordered it and eagerly awaited it with high expectations. Once I booted up the game, the disappointment seeped in deep. The problem was the game was actually difficult for me to play. I enjoyed the characters you met and could recruit, but everything else could not make me suffer through the game to get to the bits I liked. With more repetitive environments than than Skyrim, a focus on a small setting, simplified combat, and a loose narrative framework that never seemed to go anywhere interesting, it was hard to endure the bloody game just to have conversation with Fenris or Merrill. Sorry my elven friends.

 

Mass Effect 3

No list of disappointing sequels would be complete without this entry. The Mass Effect games were enjoyed by players everywhere and met with great reception. So when the third game was announced, needless to say, the game was highly anticipated. Players were wondering how the series would end given the amount of divergence allowed by player choice. BioWare promised the ending would be more than a simple “A, B, or C” choice. In the end, that is exactly what we got.

The grievances were many: the ending seemed to disregard some choices made by players; lack of closure; plot holes and inconsistencies, among many others. To me, the ending felt rushed and unfulfilling after everything leading up to it. Maybe the reaction and resulting outcry was a bit much, but the resulting fallout stands as a testament to how involved players had become with the series and just how talented BioWare is at storytelling. Maybe they should not make promises regarding endings though for their next games, eh?

Of course, there are plenty of other sub par sequels, but these were the most disappointing to me. Agree with my list? Which games did I forget? Sound off in the comments below!  

Published May. 31st 2015

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Editor-in-Chief at artistryingames.com Father. Metalhead. Lover of games, comics, and all things nerd. Slightly addicted to Magic the Gathering. Get in touch! I promise to be nice.

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