Weekend Hot Topic, part 2: Best video game sequel

GameCentral readers discuss their favourite ever video game sequels, from Metal Gear Solid 2 to Batman: Arkham City.

The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader NL, as a counter to last week’s Hot Topic about the worst sequels ever made. From franchise reboots to incremental improvements we wanted to know what you think has been the best ever video game follow-up.

Interestingly, most tended to be fairly old games, such as Street Fighter II, Half-Life 2, and Zelda: A Link To The Past, with relatively few modern sequels getting a look in.


The less obvious answer
Just in case nobody else says it I’m going to say the obvious answer here is Street Fighter II. But I’m going to slightly left of field and say that my favourite sequel ever is Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Released in 2000 this was a magical time for fighters where traditional 2D sprites were at their absolute pinnacle, just before being superseded by 3D and other more modern efforts.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 looks gorgeous, still has the best roster of the entire series, and has this wonderful cheesy attitude that is 100% late 90s Capcom. Capcom are doing great again nowadays but I don’t know if they have it in them to be this crazy again (or if Marvel would let them play around as freely with their line-up).

I must’ve spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours playing the game over the years and still come back to it occasionally. I hope they do a fourth/fifth game but I doubt it’ll ever be as good as the second one.


Downhill from here
Don’t know if anyone else will agree but I’m going to say Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. That game was fantastic and took everything that was good about the original to turn it into an absolute classic. It still has the funniest script Nintendo has ever done (I was glad brought it up when talking to the Pokémon guys) and even on replays I find myself laughing out loud. Especially anything to do with Luigi or Peach.

The tragedy though is that it was all sharply downhill after that and I have no idea why. Even if the writers left or something it doesn’t explain the gameplay being dumbed down so much, from a proper role-playing game to all the nonsense with stickers and cards and what-not.

I really hope there’s going to be a proper sequel on Switch that prioritises proper role-playing combat and being really funny.


Best Batman
My favourite sequel has to be Batman: Arkham City. I loved everything about Arkham Asylum, where I felt it nailed the Metroidvania exploration and progression with the use of Batman’s gadgets while also delivering slick and weighty combat that would become the template for many other games. And all while set in the Batman universe!

When Arkham City came out I thought it built on everything that Asylum had put in place with one game-changing addition: gliding in a true open-world setting. This was such a unique experience and easily the most enjoyable traversal mechanic I’d ever played (with only Marvel’s Spider-Man recently edging it out), where you actually felt like Batman roaming Gotham and taking out thugs from the sky.

Not only was the gliding top notch but it also introduced even more enemies from Batman’s epic rogue gallery and an interesting story.

I rated Arkham Knight highly too but agree with the general consensus that the Batmobile was overplayed, which took the shine off it. Despite that, I’m still eagerly waiting to hear what Rocksteady have been working on and would love it to be a new addition to the Arkham series. But I’m sure we’ll have to wait until the next generation for whatever it may be.


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Out of order
When I played Uncharted 2 on the PlayStation 3 back in 2010 it was the first Uncharted I had played and for me it was the best Uncharted game sequel, including story, characters, and gameplay. Although technically I had played the sequel before the first game, so I don’t know if
this counts for the Hot Topic question. I did go on to play all the sequels, which I really enjoyed, including the PS Vita one.

I played Uncharted 1 straight after I completed Uncharted 2 and could see how they had upped their game since 1: better graphics, longer game, great set pieces. One of the things I didn’t like about Uncharted 1 was that you had to use the Sixaxis motion control joypad to aim the grenade arc. They took that out for the second game, as I didn’t feel that that was a good idea aiming with motion controls for throwing a grenade. Uncharted 2 was quite gripping, especially from its interesting beginning, which I won’t spoil here.

Another game that I really enjoyed is SteamWorld Dig 2, I enjoyed the original greatly and when I came to playing the sequel I thought the idea of digging in a new area might feel samey, but with a new character, location, new abilities and even better graphics than the first game it was really fun and I was sad when it ended. Hopefully they will make a trilogy.

If you haven’t played SteamWorld Dig 2 I highly recommend it as it feels like a Nintendo game. I own SteamWorld Heist, which is another genre altogether but will have to try that sometime to see if I like that too.
Andrew J.


Second trip
I nearly didn’t write in at all, as I generally avoid things which seem like ‘more of the same’, whether wine, music, or games. Silent Hill proved to be an exception. I never imagined when first playing Space Invaders that a ‘game’ like Silent Hill would be made. Even after reading reviews I wasn’t prepared for the sense of dread and level of horror it presented.

Despite the hype, I didn’t rush out to buy Silent Hill 2 as I was worried that it would be a slight disappointment in the way that, say, Led Zeppelin II was for me. In the end I borrowed it from a friend, who bought it on release. I can’t remember exactly what I felt after completing it, but I was definitely impressed by the fantastic lighting and seeing a ‘more real’ version of the town. Despite the wonderful monster designs it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be had a more ethereal atmosphere than I expected, and I missed the air raid siren signalling a shift to the otherworld. I later became aware that a single rushed playthrough was doing it a disservice and so bought it to replay it.

In hindsight I played Silent Hill (1) to progress through the world and find out what sort of nightmare was round the next corner, not really absorbing the story, and I think I has the same mind-set during my first journey through Silent Hill 2. On replay, I paid more attention to the characters and of course could see things differently, a little like watching The Sixth Sense for a second time. What comes across on repeated play was how brave they had been to include such bold and challenging ideas in a really bleak and disturbing story. It wasn’t ‘jump scare, bash monster’ but a haunting human experience.

In relation to its status as a sequel, I think of Silent Hill 2 as an evolution of the original, less overtly intense but more personal. In the first game I felt trapped in a world of horror, while the sequel eventually felt more like following a character who is trapped in their own individual horror. I don’t want to spoil the game for anyone who hasn’t played it, but on repeat play I became more affected and impressed by the dark brilliance of story events than the monsters and the actions you take to ‘survive’.

I won’t ramble on further about how things continued with the series but suffice to say that I feel gaming is somewhat too safe and wish that more developers have the sort of artistic licence and talent that created this unsettling and thought-provoking game.
David ‘Daley’ Thompson


Peak Effect
So many options to choose from but the one that keeps coming to mind is Mass Effect 2. I like the original but the sequel was such a step up in every way, even though the plot felt more like a spin-off than anything else. But the way the characters were worked into everything and the feeling of being a starship captain in charge of your hand-picked crew was fantastic.

Although I wouldn’t go that far I wasn’t surprised to see Mass Effect 3 or Andromeda turn up in last week’s Hot Topic. Number two is definitely the best it ever got.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


Solid sequel
One of the best game sequels I have ever played is Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty. The first Metal Gear on the original PlayStation was an absolute masterpiece but obviously can look quite dated now. The PlayStation 2 certainly took the graphical capability of the series to the next level. From the shootout in the food storeroom with the bits of food and furniture being blasted all over the place and the water ripples with the dynamic lighting and other effects in and around the main off-shore facility called Big Shell are astounding.

The characters are so well designed and have such amazing and complicated backstories, that from a narrative point of view it makes it an absolute must to complete the game and to play it again due to probably not understanding it on the first playthrough. It does go into the background of the overall series of games from its past and if you have not completed the first one, it’s heavy listening indeed.

But if you are just in for gameplay alone then that has you covered, as this game has one of the best range of boss battles that I have ever had the pleasure to experience. From Fatman, Fortune, and the Vamp to Solidus Snake’s fantastic sword fight battle, all are different and very engaging. The Harrier jet and your Stinger missile battle was another noteworthy boss fight.

The most surprising thing to me, and most other players of the game, was the fact that the main protagonist was not Solid Snake but a bloke called Raiden! I was expecting at any moment to return to controlling Solid Snake after the game’s opening scenario and being so used to him from the original PlayStation game that controlling an unknown character was an interesting premise. Of course, Raiden comes into his own eventually and you’ll get used to the guy and become very interested in his backstory also.

The game has definitely got that zany and eccentric Kojima style of various gaming mechanics and plot lines. One noteworthy one is when you are speaking to Colonel Campbell on the transmitter and he starts going strange and talking bizarrely and a whole bunch of crazy stuff happens as a virus infects the system, causing weird amusement for the gamer to enjoy.

Such a lot of thought went into this title that a bar was set making Metal Gear Solid 3’s job a tough one indeed to better it. In some cases it may have. This game left me with a new mindset in how I view gaming in general and pushes the very nature fo how games can make you think on another level, like a good film and book.

I thoroughly recommend this game and even now I believe it is quite playable and just as exciting as when I first played it. It does show why people like Shigeru Miyamoto, Shinji Mikami, and Hideo Kojima have become such personalities in the world of video games and deservedly so.


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