It is an inevitable part of life in the arts, if the story is good enough, it merits a sequel.
The Hobbit has the Lord of The Rings trilogy (which each book/movie has it’s own sequel), Jaws had Jaws 2, and Mass Effect had Mass Effect 2&3. The gaming industry is no stranger to the idea of sequels, in fact, depending on the company, they pray for the ability to do a sequel to their brain child.
Is it always a good thing though?
If the game is good enough, and the story is deep enough to do so, what does it hurt to give the people more? It works in the favor of the developer to make another game, such as God Of War warranted 2 sequels due to it’s evolving story line. When you do a sequel right, you never need to worry if the gaming community will buy into it, with that said the sequel is a very temperamental being and the exact formula has yet to be nailed down as of yet.
Continuing with the God of War (GOW) reference, Santa Monica Studios indeed had the ability and resources to stretch the GOW universe to new levels in GOW 2 & 3, but was the story enough to keep the games fresh?
It has been a toss up for a long while for me as I had seen the rise of GOW and loved the first and was semi addicted to its story and play style, yet there was so far the story could carry the game. The shame about the GOW series was that the gameplay never changes, it sticks to the same formula in each title, adding in misc powers or different named weapons to traverse areas that felt all too linear to the previous areas you move through.
So it’s easy to assume that story isn’t the main factor in a game unless you can match it with something innovative compared to the previous installment. Now I am in no way saying sequels always need to have a different style of playing, far from it, some sequels with amazing story and similar gameplay have been amazingly successful (Mass Effect). BioWare may have changed the way you interact in the universe in small ways but the package was the same as the initial installment. Your choices change the environment around you, how much more could you improve upon that?
Allowing you to act rashly in the middle of a situation towards your emotional status, thus affecting the universe even more. Small additions to the gameplay is all it really takes these days to make a successful sequel/prequel that the audience would more than happily eat up and spend their hard earned money on. Though that proposes another question.
Are we content with just having sequels through the rest of our gaming lives?
Simple answer is no. Most of the Gamers I know like originality, they like engaging in new concepts or in new worlds and new faces. People do not want to rehash the same old same old at all times, they may like and have the option of replay ability but once we hit the sequel slump, what I call Sequelitis, it becomes too tedious to replay the same scenes over and over again, even for one of your favorites without some break for creativity in between.
We have recently been caught in a Vortex of Sequelitis, with games like Mario Party reaching what feels like their 15th incarnation, Mass Effect 3, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, and Assassin’s Creed Franchise reaching it’s 6 and 7th game. They each have their own innovation to behold but sometimes it feels like it is a good time for a fresh shot of creativity.
With the Next Gen Consoles pushing forward, the Durango (Microsoft), PS4 (Sony), and the Wii U (Nintendo) have potential to breath new life into the industry. The Wii U has already shown it’s looking to do just that with games like ZombiU, Ubisoft as the developer has promised some very interesting ideas. You start off at level 0, low level survivor and as you progress, the items you use more of become better in your hands, hidden messages from other players can write hidden messages on the walls to warn players of future dangers and possibly to give tips, and the Co de grace, if you die, you are forced into another survival role and start from 0 all over again and even have to kill Zombie you to retrieve previously collected items.
It has promise, as does the next title from Bethesda and Arkane Studios, Dishonored. I did my own preview of the game in question and it sounds very promising. Assassins, spiritual powers, possession, you decide how you fight and traverse the lands mixed in with intrigue and hidden agendas. What could be better? Steampunk butterfly knife, that’s all I can say. The ideas and the massive replay ability show that there can be some break in the sequel madness.
Will it be enough to show people the need for new content?
This gamer hopes so, I’ll be on the look out for a break in all the sequels and prequel and will be here to update you on the progress of Vortex Sequelitis.