The general idea of a sequel is to build upon the positives from the original game(s) while presenting something new and unique. We’ve seen our share of flat, lifeless sequels, but we’ve also seen some amazing titles. Today, we pay tribute to the latter. From racing to first-person shooting, we have a feeling you’ll appreciate these critically acclaimed follow-ups.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Activision)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did a splendid job bringing the classic war-based first-person shooter series into a startling new setting, but it’s with Modern Warfare 2 that it truly found its calling. With a captivating (and surprise-filled) single player storyline and huge advancements in multiplayer, it became a huge hit – and set the standard for future sequels to come, including this fall’s Advanced Warfare.
Halo 2 (Microsoft)
Speaking of games with strong multiplayer, Halo 2 is easily at the forefront in this category. It became one of the original Xbox’s most popular games, with various gameplay modes to take advantage of and plenty of opportunities to frag your friends. For good measure, the single player campaign was great too, with Master Chief owning up to his actions from the original game, then getting right back in the saddle against an alien horde. Hopefully, the forthcoming Halo 5 will have a similar vibe to what this sequel delivered so long ago.
Resident Evil 4 (Capcom)
Over the years, the Resident Evil franchise has grown immensely, introducing new characters – and scares – that effectively stayed with players. However, it was with the 2004 release Resident Evil 4 that the series reached its highest peak, with a nightmarish new situation involving infected townsfolk and plenty of hideous monsters – including the scariest chainsaw dude you’ll ever come across. With captivating, action-packed gameplay and twists around every corner, this is easily the best in the series.
Burnout 3: Takedown (Electronic Arts)
Burnout 2: Point of Impact was quite good, but then Criterion Software went and outdid itself with Takedown, a game that introduced a powerful new aggressive ingredient to the series. You were encouraged to ram cars off the road in order to achieve a first place victory and gain extra turbo power, as well as unlock a plethora of cars ranging from sleek sports models to bigger offerings, such as the fire truck. In addition, we couldn’t get enough of the much improved Crash mode.
Street Fighter 2 (Capcom)
In 1989, Capcom introduced the world to the fighting game genre with the original Street Fighter. However, just two years later, it catapulted it to new heights with Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior, featuring eight unique combatants, smoother controls and boss characters that put up quite a challenge. Ever since, Capcom’s sequels improved – but we dare not forget where the greatness came from.
Borderlands 2 (2K Games)
After creating an unbelievably fun co-op experience with the original Borderlands, Gearbox Software went back and produced an even bigger and better sequel, featuring new characters, more guns, bigger environments and devoted downloadable content that made each new turn in Pandora a great one. For good measure, Claptrap also returned, continuing to be the same dunderheaded robot we’ve come to know and love.
Portal 2 (Electronic Arts)
The original Portal managed to introduce smart puzzle physics in a first-person environment, and also gave us GLADoS, one of the most lovable villains in gaming history. Then Valve went and topped its effort with a bigger, better sequel, featuring all-new characters, gigantic levels that were mind-bogglingly incredible and a new co-op element with two charming characters. It’s so good, it makes us want to create combustible lemons to demand a third chapter.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (SCEA)
After Naughty Dog put its best foot forward with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, it went forth and produced a more adventurous sequel in Among Thieves. Pitting Nathan Drake against insurmountable odds through a number of locations, the sequel is a trailblazing effort that helped define the previous generation of games; it just felt right in terms of action and adventure. The team went on to do it all over again with the conclusive chapter, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
Killzone 3 (SCEA)
Killzone 2 did a solid job bringing Guerrilla Games’ first-person shooter franchise to the PlayStation 3. However, it’s with Killzone 3 that it truly defined what an FPS title could be. With massive environments, all-new gameplay elements (such as the jetpack), thrilling visuals and a more robust multiplayer mode, it did wonders for the system. Of course, that trend continued on the PlayStation 4 with the release of Killzone: Shadow Fall.
Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo)
Yes, Super Mario Bros. is a sequel to the original two-player Mario Bros. game – and what a vast improvement it is. Replacing the same-screen action with a side-scrolling platformer, Super Mario Bros. defined a genre that Mario continued to conquer for years to come. Better still, Nintendo topped its efforts just a few years later with the amazing Super Mario Bros. 3.
Grand Theft Auto 3 (Rockstar Games)
Following the crazy antics of the top-down Grand Theft Auto games, many people wondered what Rockstar would do next with the mega-violent franchise. In 2001, it answered that question with the amazing Grand Theft Auto 3, introducing a vast, enjoyable 3D world of chaos with Liberty City. The company didn’t stop there – it continued to produce quality sequels for many years, including last year’s incredible Grand Theft Auto 5.
Batman: Arkham City (WB Games)
Batman: Arkham Asylum helped put the Dark Knight back on the map when it came to top-notch comic book games – but then Arkham City came along and escalated him to new heights. With larger environments to explore, more fighting, an intricate side story involving the Dark Knight’s nemesis The Joker and even more of those “lovable toys,” it pushed the action genre. Sometime later this year, you can expect Batman: Arkham Knight to do it all over again.
Half-Life 2 (Valve)
Come on, you didn’t think we’d leave this off the list, did you? The team at Valve outdid itself with this excellent effort, introducing new weapons and dangers to contend with, along with plenty of challenges for Gordon Freeman to overcome. It was such a high demand sequel that gamers still want their beloved Half-Life 3. Hey, Valve, you listening?
Rayman 2: The Great Escape (Ubisoft)
The original Rayman was a fun little side-scroller, but was merely a stepping stone compared to the quantum leap the limbless hero made in The Great Escape. One of the first great 3D platforming games of our generation, Rayman 2 introduced fun new elements, including swinging across chasms, riding an electric chair of doom (no, we’re not kidding) and sailing a pirate ship through treacherous waters. Little did we know the Rayman series would get even better with 2011’s artistic triumph Rayman Origins.
It produced quite a bit of magic on the NES and SNES, but the Final Fantasy franchise took an imaginative new direction when it debuted on the PlayStation. With a wonderful cast of characters, a superb battle system and memorable moments that would make even the most devoted fan tear up (cue Aerith’s scene), it would appeal to a new generation of gamers while pleasing the old.
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (Capcom)
A lot of people struggled to get through Capcom’s heinously difficult side-scrolling action game Ghosts ‘n Goblins, but many hardcore gaming fans got some fun out of it. They returned for Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, an equally challenging sequel where Arthur once again overcame incredible odds to save his beloved, in boxer shorts no less.
Ms. Pac-Man (Namco)
There’s no question that Pac-Man helped the arcade industry grow to new heights. However, the missus did well on her own part, attracting male and female gamers alike with new maze designs, moving fruit, challenging ghosts and fun new cinemas.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Konami)
Finally, no sequel list would be complete without Konami’s triumphant sequel, which redefined what the series became known for in the first place. With a new exploration theme, a new “hero” in Alucard and plenty of awesome boss battles, this follow-up lived up to the franchise – and then some.