Published 2 years ago
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In today's gaming industry, just about any successfully and financially successful game means a sequel isn't too far behind. While that decision makes sense from a business point of view, it also means developers are expected to replicate success, and in some cases, catch lightning in a bottle yet again.
That's easier said than done, as can be seen by any number of sequels released year-to-year. Whether due to rushed development, a shift in direction, publisher pressure, or just failure to connect with gamers a second time, many sequels come up short.
We've looked through the pixels of gaming history to focus on the sequels we most felt were disappointing, misguided, or just plain broken.
Here's our list of The 10 Worst Video Game Sequels.
10. Dragon Age II (2011)
After BioWare delivered their long-awaited spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate with Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II had a hard act to follow. And for the most part, the story the developers chose to tell was a strong one, with gameplay that many mainstream gamers took to with ease. Unfortunately, that's where the similarities to the studio's hardcore RPG roots ended.
BioWare followed one of the most open-ended and varied character customization systems with one of the most directed and predefined, and fans made their problems known (and apparently, they were heard). Repeated environments, obvious hubs instead of an open world, and gameplay more at home in an action game than an RPG all brought the ire of the studio's once devoted fans.
Dragon Age II turned out to be a sign of BioWare's overall design shift into mainstream titles, but after its predecessor renewed hopes of the studio continuing its lineage, Dragon Age II dashed them.
9. Resident Evil 6 (2012)
Being the standard-bearer of any genre or movement is never easy or without a cost, and the Resident Evil series being tasked with upholding the proud tradition of survival horror is nothing new. But with Resident Evil 6, fans learned just how little of their series was truly sacred in the eyes of Capcom. The times, as they say, are a-changing.
While Leon's campaign (one of three) provided a walk down memory lane, that's where horror ended, and action took over. More Gears of War than Resident Evil, RE6 sent a clear message of the price developers are willing to pay to attract gamers beyond their niche's existing fan base.
The main problem wasn't quality from campaign to campaign, but the fact that well-developed horror could be packaged into the same game as a forgettable story and at times uninspired shooting carnage. It was a mixed bag overall, meaning it wasn't the Resident Evil installment fans hoped for.
8. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (2012)
In the realm of games that attempted to blur the lines between simulation and video game, Steel Battalion remains one of the most successful, not to mention immersive. By now the expansive controller shipped with the game itself - consisting of 40 button, lever and pedals - has become infamous among peripherals, but the result was a genuine feeling of operating one of Steel Battalion's Vertical Tanks.
A next-gen installment seemed a pipe dream, until Capcom confirmed that Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor would be coming to the Xbox 360 with From Software developing. Instead of a clunky controller, the game would utilize the Kinect, putting the player in the mech's virtual cockpit.
Heavy Armor deserved its critical slaughter due to the Kinect's inability to read body movements and gesture, but the entire approach was flawed. Frankly, removing any need for elaborate controls - the exact thing that made the experience unique in the first place - doomed the game from the start.
7. Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (2012)
It was the video game announcement that made every old school gamer stop and take note: Warren Spector, the man behind Deus Ex, System Shock and other role-playing classics was working on a Mickey Mouse game for Disney. Before the world even knew what Epic Mickey would turn out to be, they wanted to play it.
Even though Epic Mickey wasn't quite the critical success some may have hoped, potential was shown for a budding series, provided some problems were ironed out. Junction Point got their chance to make good on Mickey with Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, but this story would not have a happy ending.
Epic Mickey 2 may have solved many of the first game's problems, but itintroduced plenty of new ones as well. As a result, the studio closed, and the franchise seems dead and buried. There's nothing more inspiring than seeing a sequel save a franchise from extinction - and nothing more tragic than watching one deliver the killing blow.
6. Bomberman: Act Zero (2006)
If we're talking about game sequels or reboots that don't just disappoint, but baffle, it's hard to think of a game capable of matching the baffle-factor of Bomberman: Act Zero.
We don't know who at Hudson Soft had the idea to 'update' or 're-imagine' the titular hero as a futuristic military cyborg, but hopefully their design input was never trusted by anyone with influence ever again.
On the surface, the design of Act Zero seems more like a bad joke than a game that actually shipped, but we've made sure it wasn't all just a horrible nightmare. The game itself was as misguided as turning the cartoonish lead character into a killing machine, making the game a failure on all fronts.
Given just how much of a misstep Act Zero really was, it isn't hard to understand Nintendo's reservation in revisiting or updating their most beloved exclusives.
5. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (2008)
Once known as the creators of highly influential and beloved characters, Rare went into somewhat of a downward spiral after being acquired by Microsoft in 2002. But that didn't stop fans of Banjo-Kazooie from ogling over the thought of a third entry in the series.
After confirming that the bird and bear duo would be making their triumphant return on the Xbox 360 with a trailer at Microsoft's X06 event, gamers couldn't wait for the acclaimed N64 franchise to reclaim its former glory, in even greater detail than ever before.
As it turned out, sadly, the resulting video game - Banjo & Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - wasn't the platforming fiesta that fans were hoping for, instead giving gamers a racing game with an emphasis on building vehicles.
Although Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts wasn't completely broken from a technical standpoint, it wasn't at all what followers wanted, or hoped to see from their favorite twosome.
4. Test Drive Unlimited 2 (2011)
There was a time when the promise of a truly open world, socially integrated simulation racer seemed like one that the developers of Test Drive Unlimited were bound to deliver on. As one of the most visually impressive racers in this generation of consoles' early days, the hopes were high for the follow-up.
Unfortunately, Test Drive Unlimited 2 went off the road quickly. An ambitious approach to both simulation racing and new levels of immersion and online connectivity were done in by flawed execution.
Awkward user interfaces, clumsy social systems that hindered the growth of a community, and simulated racing that failed to keep up with the competition all got jumbled together in one big mess.
What potential Eden Games had managed to show was wasted in an effort to do everything, instead of excelling at any one element of gameplay.
3. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 (2010)
After a disappointing series of releases, LucasArts surprised everyone with the release of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Telling the story of Darth Vader's secret apprentice, the game managed to do what had seemed to be impossible: deliver polished, deep, customizable third-person action, and all while telling a story truly worthy of the Star Wars legacy.
A sequel was a no-brainer financially, but from a story standpoint, one of the best parts of the first game was its finality. So in the case of The Force Unleashed 2, that story was undercut, and replaced with one that was nowhere near as refined and game design that matched, feeling hurried instead of inspired.
Lucasarts later pulling the plug on all game development helped provide some context, but The Force Unleashed 2 remains one sequel we'd prefer to forget.
2. Final Fantasy XIV (2010)
It goes without saying that a coveted or highly-anticipated MMO is bound to run into issues at launch, but Final Fantasy XIV blew previous disastrous launches out of the water.
As the successor to Square Enix's MMO Final Fantasy XI - a groundbreaking game in its own right, and at the time the most profitable in the series - fans expected a game that would at least aspire to the same goals of what came before.
What they got instead was one of the glitchiest, poorly-constructed MMOs to date, with issues rendering the game virtually unplayable for many. Eventually, the developers had no choice but to shut down the servers, and redesign the game for a release in mid-2013.
The reborn version may turn out to be a success, but there is no other online sequel that comes close to the disaster that Final Fantasy XIV truly was.
1. Duke Nukem Forever (2011)
It was the game that many thought would never be completed; and once it was, most wished it hadn't been. When discussing failed sequels disappointing fans, there's no way Duke Nukem Forever doesn't take top billing.
While the crass hero was an embodiment of PC shooter culture in the 1990s, gamers grew up. And as the game sadly taught the world, Duke himself never did.
We'll never know what the world would have thought of DNF if it hadn't been delayed a decade, or if Gearbox Software hadn't purchased the rights and forced the project to completion.
All we know is that the finished product was an underwhelming, poorly designed, badly written, and altogether obnoxious and insulting festival of immaturity. Not even in a fun way, just a pathetic one.
Top 10 Games of 2012
There you have it, Game Rant's 10 Worst Video Game Sequels. There's no question that the games on our lists have plenty of defenders (and several of us still find them guilty pleasures) but when compared with the shoes they're trying to walk in, they fall flat on their faces.
Which game sequels have proven to be the most disappointing to you? Was it due to a poor quality or lack of polish, or a shift in direction for the series overall? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.