With the release of Assassin’s Creed 3 and Halo 4 on the not-so-distant horizon and in the wake of Resident Evil 6 I felt it appropriate to rant about the problem with sequels.
I find that I am less excited about major title releases than ever before. I think it has something to do with my roots as a gamer. I didn’t play many sequels at all during the Nintendo/Sega Genesis era of gaming. I played no Zelda titles between the original and Ocarina of Time. I never played more than one Sonic the Hedgehog and never indulged more than one iteration of Castlevania.
I must confess that many of my favorite games are sequels. GTA: Vice City, Super Mario 3, Twisted Metal: Black, Metal Gear Solid 2…you get the idea. Very rarely does something come a long like Shadow of the Colossus and become a standalone classic.
Like the majority of the gaming community I became a sequel junky because we didn’t have many options. And now we basically hold on tight and hope that the next installment of our favorite series is a gem. Occasionally we get lucky with games like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Dark Souls or Skyrim. But regardless of the potential that any heavyweight sequel may offer, it is the promise of games like The Last of Us or Watchdogs that keep gamers like me hungry or even the least bit excited about the future of games.
I don’t hate sequels at all. There are just too many of them. It seems like every game released has a number on the end of it. But the bigger problem than the inevitable churning of sequels is the hype machines that precede their release. The video game media is something of a Catch-22. In promoting games they bring awareness to the gamers but in their zeal they are quick to anoint many games the second coming and more often than not that title suffers for it.
I can count on one hand the games that I believe have ever exceeded the hype that preceded them. Most of them are first entries into a series like Halo, God of War or Deep Space. Perhaps this is because there is just less expectation on the part of the public when wading into uncharted waters.
I suppose the truth is that as gamers we can’t live without sequels. Until studios or developers can garner more money in their budget for new intellectual properties then sequels will always have the greater share of the market than new titles. At the end of the day this is a business and there is careful consideration given when doling out the dollars and rightfully so. People have families and they need to keep food on the table and roofs over heads. Only charities operate differently.