TA Top Five: Disappointing Sequels

By Jonathan Barnes, 2 years ago
There is a nice little lunch spot in my town that specializes in "loaded hot dogs". For further color (and to make you hungry on a Sunday morning), you can get a hot dog with a Beer Battered Onion Ring, Smokey BBQ, Monterey Jack, Cheddar Cheese and Chili on top of it... with tater tots on the side. Sounds pretty good, right?

...but wait, there's more. For ONE DOLLAR MORE, you can "double the dog" and get two of them. TWO! Sounds pretty good, right?

Yeah... try eating both. After the second one you'll want to kill your server, the cook, and then yourself for doing that to your body.

While there are times when we (as gamers) really love that first hot dog game, the second isn't always the best idea and can leave you feeling confused, agitated, uncomfortable, and (occasionally) sick. While some sequels do things right, many others miss the mark. These are the editorial team's Top Five Disappointing Sequels.

Honorable Mentions

Dragon Age II
Top Five

I know I'm in the minority of gamers who actually liked BioWare's rushed sequel to Dragon Age: Origins, but even I can see that it definitely suffered from a short development cycle. While the gameplay became more action-focused and pleasing to a general audience, the recycled assets, limited environments, focused linearity, and general lack of polish made a less-than-stellar followup to the original.

BioShock 2 (Xbox 360)
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Here's a sequel that, while not "bad" per se, suffered from being a follow up to a genre-defining classic. Gamers had been pining for a return to Rapture since almost the moment they left in BioShock (Xbox 360), but 2K Marin's 2010 offering seemed to just miss the mark. What was initially seen as a mysterious and dangerously-inviting setting wasn't quite as sharp. The temptation of playing as a terrifying Big Daddy was nerfed as gamers were put in an earlier, less-powerful model. The antagonist didn't have the same awe and mystery of Andrew Ryan. Finally, there was the multiplayer... let's just leave that be.

Top Five

5 - Guitar Hero: World Tour

World Tour represents the point where the Golden Goose stopped laying those eggs for Activision. The third Xbox 360 entry in the annualized series, World Tour attempted to capture what (original series developers) Harmonix did with their Rock Band series... except not as good. While it took the industry a few more years to strip mine every last dollar out of the genre, World Tour marked a clear "beginning of the end" for plastic instruments in living rooms.

4 - Fable III
Top Five

For someone who loves the franchise, completed the base game, and even owns a flippin' Border Collie, it pains me to say that this game definitely disappointed.

The Albion that was so successful in the first two games was fast-forwarded a bit too much in the third entry, the rise to power, rule, and defend the land plot line was ambitious but not executed well, and the bugs... oh my... the bugs: graphics stutters, framerate drops, screen tearing, and complete hard locks were just the tip of the iceberg. While Fable III isn't a terrible game, it certainly was a HUGE let down after the major advancements in Fable II. Also, you may still need to find some guns if you want to complete it.

3 - Assassin's Creed III
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There is so much wrong with Assassin's Creed III that it's almost easier to say what Ubisoft got right with their wrong turn.

What Assassin's Creed III got right - European colonists abused and displaced Native Americans with violent and inappropriate means leading to terrible sorrow and downright tragedy.

On the other side of the ledger are the game's horrifically degraded controls, un-fun main story missions, terrible facial animations and lip-syncing, and the wild, cancerous spreading of incredibly tedious side missions, minigames, and collectibles.

Basically, Ubisoft took what was a fun game with a fun protagonist and made a boring, chore-filled mess with a character who was one of the most dour and unlikeable protagonists this generation. Fortunately (by most accounts), these perceived sins were remedied with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, but it'll be a while before I test that assertion.

2 - Gears of War: Judgment
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When this topic was being bandied about the Newshound offices, punkyliar strode up to me with her VERY pointy grammar stick and threatened all that I hold dear if Judgment didn't make this list. Here's why:

Technically this game is a prequel, but it is so deserving of its place on the list that we’re throwing out the rule book... just like Kilo Squad did; only we’re not on trial for doing so. This title took the Gears of War franchise, threw it on the ground and curb-stomped it until its remnants were splattered up the wall.

The franchise's much-loved Horde mode was replaced with Survival mode, which never had the charm to compete with its bigger brother. Competitive multiplayer was let down by a pitiful number of maps and game modes, so that many players soon roadie ran back to Gears of War 3. Without the option to turn off the scoring, the shorter campaign was constantly interrupted at the end of each section and any hope of a compelling story disappeared down the nearest E-hole. However, it was the changes to the weapons controls that really divided people. You either loved them, or you hated them -- a bit like Baird, the title’s main protagonist.

I’m not sure whether it is dread or bated breath with which we’re anticipating Black Tusk Studios' upcoming Gears of War title, but it is difficult for things to get much worse.
1 - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Top Five

As a Star Wars fan, I was able to enjoy LucasArts' "Force power fantasy", Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. While by no means perfect, the tale of Starkiller and how he wove his way into the universe was (at the very least) interesting, as was the use of "beefed up" Force powers. That being said, the sequel was terrible from the get-go. The first game told a compact story with a clear, succinct ending that left many gamers (myself included) satisfied. The story for the sequel as an unabashed mess of confusion, conspiracy, and half-baked ideas. On top of the narrative foibles, the gameplay still suffered from "the lightsaber dilemma" where these mythical weapons can cut through reinforced blast doors, but still need several whacks to take down the easiest of enemies.

Star Wars gamers may continue to pine for more to play in their favorite universe, but The Force Unleashed II was best left a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

The TA Team will be bringing you The TA Top Five every Sunday until we run out of coolness to debate and discuss. If you have an idea for a Top Five you'd like us to do, be sure to let us know in the comments!
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.