Sequels are rarely a bad thing, we’ve long known this. More often than not, second helpings of some stories are not only welcomed; they’re expected. The curse of a multi-million dollar success breeds the demand for another home run, and while there is now the expectation of another huge hit to satisfy, it is also a challenge all developers heartily welcome. Forward thinking is a quality cherished by publishers and designers alike for it moves the burden of decision away from the publishers to demand their companies to rush an awkward sequel, and it provides the companies a means to leave certain elements for a second title, as well as a second chance to do things better than before. Unfortunately, that forward thinking is a fine hair away from dangerous anticipation.
I understand that sequels are as much a business as they are a labor of love. There will always be stories that can be summed up in one game, yet are sliced into two, and vice versa. As of recently, however, it appears to me that many developers are not only banking on the success of their title, but they have already begun work on the sequel when the first game hasn’t even debuted yet. Now, with titles such as Modern Warfare 2, it’s hard to argue that the chance of this game performing below “bowel-releasingly-awesome” is above 2.23% (repeating of course), but there is still that chance. Short spurts of DLC like map packs and expansion stories that may have been scratched from the final product is expected nowadays. The dilemma, I find, is when a stand-alone title is announced before the original game has even stepped into the proving grounds. As positive as the previews of DJ Hero are, I’m now reluctant to buy it when I know there is a second version coming out by the end of next year. After all, sequels are always better…right?
This is why I will always be a champion of those companies that have a multiple-game franchise system, Much like how Ubisoft is handling the Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia franchises. Once they finish a game, they begin work on a completely new IP while the first goes into the brave world. Then, once it has matured through its mistakes and accomplishments, the company returns and they begin working on the next adventure. Designers need time away from a title once it’s done to recuperate and rediscover the creative hunger they had to make the first game. It allows them to gain an objective stance on their latest prize and admit to the weaknesses gamers inevitably find, however small they may be. Not only will designers promise to fix these inadequacies, but also expand the sequel into new territory so the franchise will continue to grow. Visceral’s (formerly EA Redwood Shores) Dead Space sequel will undoubtedly be well deserved of praise because of the time they’ve spent apart from it, working on the upcoming Dante’s Inferno story. I didn’t enjoy every single aspect of Dead Space (the asteroid-shooting section stuck out like a sore thumb, and don’t even get me going on that goddamned buzz-saw weapon of total uselessness), but whatever complaint I had fell short in comparison to all the things done so well. With a year vacation away from the sci-fi survival horror genre, I can only imagine what disturbing things will pop out of ventilation shafts and hold me upside-down in the sequel.
See you in the next level,