We love sequels! Especially the 11 Best Video Game Sequels on this list. While movies that recycle the same formula often feel stale and pointless, when a game reuses the same formula as the original they can pare away the ingredients that didn't work and jazz it up with a few new ones. If you check your gaming library you'll probably find countless awesome sequels trying to entice you to play. Maybe you played the original, maybe you didn't, but the point is that it's often a later installment in a franchise which turns out to be your favorite, which is why we're bringing you a list of the 11 Best Video Game Sequels.
Raise your hand if you've played the original Team Fortress. Okay, as we thought, there's a few of you out there, but far more who are familiar with Valve's unstoppably popular first-person shooter franchise. Something about the lightning-fast gameplay, cartoony aesthetic, and the hat-based economy blended together perfectly, making it the perfect starting point on our list of the 11 Best Video Game Sequels.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
While most of the titles on this list are here primarily for their gameplay, this action-adventure game could warrant its inclusion on our list through the power of its performances alone. Nolan North, Emily Rose, Richard McGonagle, Claudia Black, Steve Valentine, and a score of other talented voice actresses/motion capture performers helped bring a new level of cinematography to Uncharted 2, one that few games (outside of the Metal Gear Solid series), have ever managed to capture. It also doesn't hurt that the game's damn funny, too, with North's performance as leading man Nathan Drake's every utterance crackling with wit.
Somehow Burnout 3: Takedown managed to blend the adrenaline-pumping, car-crashing action of the previous games with what are essentially a series of over-the-top puzzles masquerading as car crashes. Of the two basic gameplay modes, the first has you racing against other cars and doing your best to out-stunt them in order to gain the burnout energy needed to slam their asses off the road and into last place. The other presents you with a carefully constructed intersection of vehicles, obstacles, and power-ups, asking you to figure out the best way to crash your car in order to maximize your score. It's all devilishly addictive, and we wish that later Burnouts would re-emphasize the brilliant carnage of the third.
We've got just one question for you, Gaben: where's Half-Life 3? Where?! WHEEERE??????
Mass Effect 2
While Bioware often manages to bring the goods with their original titles, their sequels don't often fare so well (we're looking at you, Dragon Age II and Knights of the Old Republic II). Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, kept everything that was great about the first Mass Effect - its rich, sci-fi universe, vivid characters, and compelling role-playing system - and wrapped it up in a package that was glitzier, more engrossing, and better-flowing. Mass Effect 3 continued this trend of greatness, too, at least until the last half-hour or so. That's when Bioware gave Mass Effect fans a collective middle finger and ran away laughing.
Batman: Arkham City
What is it to be Batman? He's vengeance, doling out justice on the criminal scum of Gotham while throwing down against the wildest and craziest supervillains this side of metropolis. He's the night, slinking around in the shadows, inspiring fear in those who would inspire fear in the innocent, tracking down the clues leading him to his next wrongdoer. He... is... Batman! And Arkham City managed to perfectly encapsulate that feeling of Batmanitude, thanks to its simple, but in-depth, combat system and a huge world to explore.
Resident Evil 4
In 2005, the series that helped put survival-horror on the map redefined it. No longer was the genre limited to focusing on rationing supplies or moving slowly through the horror. No, said Resident Evil 4, survival-horror could be about shoving brutal waves of carnage down your throat, playing with your expectations, striking out at you at the very moment you thought you could relax. RE4 deserves to be on our list of the 11 Best Video Game Sequels.
Plenty of elements helped elevate Halo above its predecessor, but perhaps the most crucial of these elements was online multiplayer. Before everyone's 10-year-old sibling was calling everyone racial slurs on Xbox Live, we were console cave-gamers stuck playing with those around us. With Halo 2 and it's contemporaries, a wide world suddenly opened up. You didn't just have to teabag your friends anymore - you could stick your virtual genitals in the virtual face of anyone!
Street Fighter II
Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis/Arcade
As Resident Evil helped define survival-horror, so, too, did Street Fighter II help define fighting games. Street Fighter II (and its many iterations), struck the arcade scene like lightning; countless gamers crowded around the glow of the arcade machines, quarters at the ready, hungry to challenge the next would-be world warrior. Street Fighter II had just enough depth, accessibility, flash, and fun to it to tap into the '90s zeitgest. After its success we saw countless others follow suit, refining the formula Street Fighter II helped define.
Speaking of games that defined a genre, Diablo and Diablo II were so seminal that most games which copy their formulas are often referred to as "Diablo Clones." And while Diablo the First blew gamers' minds across the globe, Diablo II freaking exploded them. The wild variance of the loot, monsters, and levels meant gamers could play it over and over and not get tired of seeing the same things, and the skill tree revolutionized the way players' power progressed. No longer were we restricted to the linear power growth predetermined for us by the game developers. With Diablo II's skill tree, we could create the kind of character we wanted to play.
At their core, every one of the games on this 11 Best Video Game Sequels list took the best of its forefathers and made something better with it, with perhaps none doing a better job of it than Super Mario Bros 3. SMB3 had the same running, jumping, platforming fun of the originals, but sharpened to a masterful edge that was surrounded by a ludicrous number of secret items, levels, and worlds. And the beauty of Super Mario Bros 3 is that virtually anyone can play it. Less experienced gamers may run into trouble later on, but they'll get to see so much awesome fun that they'll stay hungry to find out what lies beyond each new corner.
Next: 10 Classic Arcade Sequels