Recently I did a “My Top 10 Most Improved Sequels” list which seemed to go down pretty well with everyone so I decided to come back with a part 2. Yes much like our games industry today I couldn’t just leave something good alone and had to do a follow up. I did mention in part one that there were titles that simply didn’t make the list the first time round so I might do a second list in order to include them.
As per usual there is no order to my list, I randomly list games that come to mind until I eventually reach ten and then I spend the rest of my evening wondering why I missed out on a certain game. Please understand that I’m not rich and I’ve not played every game ever made therefore some “obvious” games may not make it, as you can see I’ve cleared titled this post as “My” top 10 therefore making it clear it’s a personal list.
If the game you’re thinking about isn’t here then feel free to check out the original top 10 most improved sequels as I may have already mentioned it there. Anyway enough chatter, thanks for stopping by and let’s get this one out of the way so everyone stops asking.
Uncharted 2 Among Thieves
Usually one of the first games that’s mentioned when doing this kind of top 10 lists as it’s a pretty recent titles rather than some relic from the 80′s. The original Uncharted was one of the first “killer apps” for the PlayStation 3 but in reality it wasn’t all that great, the game simply stood out more because there wasn’t anything too appealing on the PlayStation 3 just yet. It was a good title that I’d recommend but it wasn’t a system seller nor did it deserve to to win any game of the year awards outside visuals.
Uncharted 2 changed all of that by taking what was basically a 7/10 game and pushed it towards game of the year terrorist. The visuals dropped the plastic look and instead delivered a real show piece for what the PlayStation 3 could do and the story itself proved to be more interesting the second time round. The beginning of Uncharted 2 is one of my favourite openings to a game and really caught my interest right away.
The stupid re spawning enemies of the original were gone as was the annoying screen tearing, Uncharted 2 wasn’t the type of sequel that made the original redundant but it did offer up enough improvements across all areas to make it the superior game. It’s often seen as a better game than Uncharted 3 and it probably has something to do with the fact that the story naturally lead to amazing set pieces rather than the team came out with cool ideas and then forced a story in afterwards.
Naughty Dog got a lot of things right with Uncharted 2 and even managed to throw in a multiplayer mode which despite my fears didn’t actually suck. Yes the game holds your hand harder than your mum in a crowd mall but Uncharted 2 is still one of the better games you’ll play this generation.
Assassin’s Creed II
Much like Uncharted 2 this one is also considered an obvious choice though it worked a lot harder to reach greatness. The original Assassin’s Creed was a highly ambitious game that in the end couldn’t deliver on it’s promise, the pieces were all there but the execution wasn’t. For the sequel the team listened to all feedback regarding the first game and basically started over again but this time the base game was already there.
Assassin’s Creed II in many ways isn’t so much an improved sequel per say but rather something designed to replace the original, it’s what the first game should of been all along. Repetitive missions were gone and instead players could explore a large massive world full of variety. The all new weapon wheel made it’s debut which basically made Ezio the Batman of his era.
Speaking of Ezio, boring old Altaïr of the original is gone and replaced with someone who actually has a personality. In the original I don’t recall ever killing my target without making a mess of things, in Assassin’s Creed II I’ve pulled off some amazing stealth kills. Again it’s what the first game should of been all along.
Everyone has their favourite game in the series but for me it’s easily Assassin’s Creed II, it’s a fantastic example of a developers listening to feedback and delivered a game worthy of the hype.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was awesome, I recently wrote about it in my Retro Corner feature so check it out if you want my thoughts on that. The problem with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is that it didn’t leave much room for improvement right? I mean it’s a skateboarding game, you should be happy the game didn’t outright suck the first time around.
For the sequel Neversoft decided to go down the bigger, better, more badass route and the end result is a game that isn’t much different from the original but it does make sure that you’ll never want to go back. Level design is perhaps the biggest improvement in THPS 2, there’s about 3 or 4 good ones in the original whilst in the sequel ALL of them are cool. Again soundtrack, there’s the Superman song in the original and maybe something else. THPS 2′s soundtrack in it’s entirety rocks.
New additions come in the form of create a skater and create a skate park. the former is pretty cool and allows you to pick out all your tricks for your custom rider. Creating a skate park is where the fun really starts, it features an easy to navigate editor that gives you all the tools to make all sorts of silly custom skate parks in no time.
Like I said, bigger, better, more badass and oh, Spider-Man is in it.
Rayman 2: The Great Escape
I like Rayman on the PlayStation and that’s pretty much all I can say about that game. It’s a neat little 2D platformer but I grew up playing Mario, Sonic & Donkey Kong so I wasn’t particularly blown away by it. By the time Rayman 2 arrived 3D platformers were all the rage so what chance did Rayman 2 have against those?
It’s not quiet Super Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie but damn it, Rayman 2 is right up there with the best. It’s not that Rayman made the jump to 3D, it’s the fact that the game is an impressive 3D platformer. Colourful, vibrant and charming is only the start of Rayman 2′s magic, a catchy soundtrack, gibberish chatter and finely designed levels round off the package.
Rayman 2 was and still is one of the most polished well designed 3D platformers money can buy, run the Dreamcast version through a VGA cable and you’ll be in platforming heaven. Come to think about it, wasn’t Rayman 2 originally an Nintendo 64 exclusive? Fast forward to 2013 and not much has changed Ubisoft hey?
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
By including Metal Gear Solid 3 am I implying that I didn’t enjoy Metal Gear Solid 2? Well yes, I thought that game was awful. I’m fully aware that MGS 2 has it’s fans and I respect that but the combination of Raiden and a story designed to confuse even the die hard MGS fan left me wondering if this series was more for me.
If MGS 2 killed the series for me than MGS 3 brought me right back by delivering what I feel is the best game in the series. Pretty much everything I hated about MGS 2 has been fixed in MGS 3. Fantastic story complete with a rewarding ending, organic jungle setting replacing the bland corridors previously seen and some of the boss battles in the series. Young Ocetlot is amazing but the final showdown between Big Boss and The Boss herself is one of the most memorable moments in gaming.
The cut-scenes are too long and the game does take a while to get going but once it does it never lets go right up until the very end. MGS 3 is easily Hideo Kojima at his best, it’s the perfect Metal Gear Solid game in my opinion. Sadly MGS 4 took a giant dump on everything MGS 3 laid out, yes I’m a MGS 1 & 3 guy.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Forget the horrible mess that the series has become in recent years and think back to Call of Duty 4. When this bad boy launched in 2007 it took the industry by storm delivering an extremely polished First person shooter. The World War II based shooters had run it’s course so for COD 4 Infinity Ward decided to have their next game take place in the near future, there’s nothing wrong with the old trusty Thompson but we were all ready to get some red dots in our guns.
Extremely easy to pick up and play, solid mechanics, well designed and interesting campaign filled with jaw dropping moments and an insanely addictive multiplayer meant that COD 4 had no equal when it launched. Everything this game did, it did it well and I cannot say enough good news about the sniper mission in the campaign mode. It also single handily kicked off the perk based multiplayer feature seen in every game these days, COD 4 was a jugger naught and yet it deserved all the praise it got.
The problem with COD 4 was that it became too popular for it’s own good, even the developers struggled to create a worthy sequel and instead opted for the Michael Bay route. Since then it’s all gone downhill with the brains behind the original Call of Duty games leaving to form their own studio leaving behind a formula that continues to be remixed every year yet never pushes the series forward like COD 4 did. Let’s face it, the Call of Duty series is a shadow of it’s former self and is an old dog that refuses to learn new tricks.
Donkey Kong Country 2
Fans of 2D platformers unite! No I’m not talking about the casual fans but the ones who know level design when they see it. The original Donkey Kong Country blew minds with it’s visuals but as a game it wasn’t nearly as impressive. Go back and play the first Donkey Kong Country, it’s not actually all that great despite what nostalgia tells you. Now go back and play Donkey Kong Country 2, oh yes it’s still awesome.
The second Donkey Kong Country 2 is far and away the better game than the original, it’s hard to tell simply by looking because it looks very similar to the first. Whatever differences your mind picked up as a kid are now gone due to time blurring all three games into one experience that you just happened to remember as being fun. The best advice I can give you is to play an hour of Donkey Kong Country and then follow it up with an hour of Donkey Kong Country 2.
For me what made Donkey Kong Country 2 the better game is it’s level designed which can’t be easily explained, the original felt cheap and frustrating. Donkey Kong Country 2 instead feels perfectly tuned, perfectly setup and progression is based on skill rather than trial & error. There’s much more I can say, you truly have to play to one to see what’s so special about it.
Is the game better than Donkey Kong Country Returns? That my friends is one hell of a question, I honestly don’t know. The music is better for sure but beyond that, it’s a battle between two of the very best in the genre.
Super Mario Galaxy
This one is really easy, the game it followed up on was Super Mario Sunshine and we all hate that game so there’s that.
For the sake of further bloating out this top ten let’s go through the obvious, Super Mario Galaxy is such an improvement on Sunshine that I often forget that it’s the game that followed it. The poorly textured 30FPS environments of Sunshine are gone and replaced by extremely lush environments with plenty of visual flair. Crysis is the type of game you say looks amazing, Super Mario Galaxy is the type of game you refer to as beautiful.
Forget graphics, the soundtrack is even more impressive featuring orchestrated music that does away with MIDI in most cases bringing the series right up to modern standards. Best soundtrack in videogame history? You bet.
Even better than both the visuals and soundtrack is the gameplay, Mario is in space and who knew things could be so much fun up there. Gravity plays a major roll in the game creating all sorts of new gameplay opportunities, if Nintendo put Mario in space you can rest assured they are doing it for the new possibilities it brings and not the simply novelty of Mario being in space.
This sequel is so improved that there is no way it can be topped right?
Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out in 2010, the rest is history.
Mortal Kombat 2011
Who’s a Mortal Kombat fan around here? Okay, now with a STRAIGHT face tell me that there has ever been a good Mortal Kombat game. Okay FINE, Shaolin Monks was awesome but I mean an actual good Mortal Kombat fighting game.
Fans might latch on to Mortal Kombat II but truth be told even that is pushing it, thankfully good things eventually come to those who wait and a Mortal Kombat reboot launched in 2011. The series had gotten so stupid and silly that there was NO CHOICE but to reboot everything, in my eyes this series was beyond saving.
Taking inspiration from Street Fighter IV, the 2011 reboot of Mortal Kombat isn’t just a good Mortal Kombat game but a damn good fighter at that. It’s still a little clunky around the corners with some wonky animation at times but beyond that it’s hard to imagine Mortal Kombat ever being any better than this.
The game is a 2.5D fighter that looks great, sounds great and plays great. X-Ray attacks act as Mortal Kombat’s answer to Street Fighter’s Super Combos and all the awesome fatalities are back in their full glory. There’s no silly throw away characters, the game is loaded with content and received some nice post game support. It might be a while before Ed Boon and his team can top this one so it makes sense that they are doing Injustice Gods Among Us instead for the time being.
It took about 9 games and 20 years but Mortal Kombat finally got good, welcome to the club.
Whatever Follows Up Metroid Other M
Rest assured that whatever comes after this piece of shit will be an improvement of some kind.
Hey, you didn’t mention…
Yes I know once again I’ve left out one of your favourites, sorry but that’s just how these lists tend to work. Now that I’ve done a part two I guess we’re done with lists right?
Midway through writing this editorial I got the same feeling the first time I did the original and I still feel as though I’m missing games, not many more games but still a few. Perhaps enough games to warrant doing a part three and leave this list as a trilogy or sorts.
Actually maybe I’ll do a part three and hint that it’s the last one only to return with a forth one featuring a slightly different name, I hear it’s all the rage in the games industry these days. Yeah and it could be a list that looks more deeply into my lists, instead of Call of Duty 4 I would look at Call of Duty 2. Let’s “Guitar Hero” these lists to hell.
Thanks for giving us a visit, thanks for looking through the pictures whilst ignoring the text and thanks for keeping “you didn’t mention Megaman 2 AGAIN” hate message to a minimum. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to fight some MGS 2 fans who are claiming I’m too stupid to understand it’s greatness.
Enjoyed this post? Why not check out the original Top 10 Most Improved Sequels list, it’s 538 words longer than this one.