Everyone Needs To Stop Complaining About Game Sequels
Just to clarify from the start, I am all for originality and innovation. We wouldn't be where we are now in this industry without both artistic and technological advancement, and I'm as big a supporter as anyone of IPs like last year's LittleBigPlanet and Mirror's Edge. However, the constant complaining about sequels running rampant in the industry needs to stop.
Yes, there are a lot of sequels and new installments in long-running franchises. Yes, many of the biggest games of last year had a number after them: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Gears of War 2, Devil May Cry 4, Fallout 3, Resistance 2, Grand Theft Auto IV, and new entries in the Guitar Hero and Call of Duty franchises. But has anyone noticed that these sequels tend to kick serious ass? We don't operate within the same boundaries as films; they've already advanced to a point where new technology and artistry isn't really playing a significant role any more, and games continue to take great strides every few years. Therefore, when a sequel or new installment in a franchise arrives, there's a damn good chance it'll easily eclipse previous titles in the series simply by default. While some may prefer the original Gran Turismo or Grand Theft Auto to Gran Turismo 5 (whenever it shows up) or Grand Theft Auto IV, nobody on earth can make an argument that the sequels are of "lesser quality" than the original games.
I would be up there complaining with everyone else if the sequels were simply getting stagnant, and publishers were releasing new games in a popular series that feature nothing in the way of freshness or advancement. But I almost never see that. Sure, we can debate all day long on MGS vs. MGS4...but really, the mammoth strides taken in depth, story-telling, fluidity, and presentation (not to mention the obvious technical flourishes in terms of sound and visuals) is undeniable. And if we're being brutally honest with ourselves, nostalgia often plays a larger role than we anticipate when embarking on "original vs. sequel" debates. Seriously, let's just admit that; it must be volunteered to be accurate. True, we still need more IPs and unique ideas, but that doesn't necessarily mean we need less sequels. Get to the end of this year, and the Game of the Year nominees will likely include stuff like Killzone 2, Resident Evil 5, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Street Fighter IV, etc. IPs like Heavy Rain and Alan Wake should be fantastic, too, but new entries in established series should rule once again.
And so what if they do? We all care about playing the best of the best, right? So who really cares if those games have a number after them? Usually, they're almost entirely new experiences, anyway! Think about it.
1/26/2009 Ben Dutka