We tend to regard game sequels warily, and often with good reason: A bad sequel to a good game can tarnish a series' entire legacy.
On the flip side, a good sequel can cement your love for a series. Have you ever played a follow-up game that made you say, "Oh, yeah. I am all about this?" Talk to us.
My favorite sequels are the ones that build on the original formula and take it in new and interesting directions. Persona 4, for instance (which I consider to be the second in its own little trilogy). Or Pokemon Gold and Silver. More than just a rehash, these games are evolutions.
In that light, my favorite sequel is... drum roll please... Dark Souls. I mean, it's cliche at this point, but there's a reason we called it the best game of the past 15 years.
Okay, Dark Souls isn't technically a "sequel" to Demon's Souls; but for all intents and purposes, it is. It takes the original hub and spoke design of the original and builds it into a seamless Castlevania-like dungeon in which you are free to progress however you please. Dark Souls is lauded for having some of the best level design of all time, and a lot of that is to do with its thoughtfully constructed world.
There's not much more to be said about Dark Souls that hasn't already been covered; but suffice it to say, it's my favorite "sequel" of all time. And a lot of people agree with me.
Man, I don't even know. My quick gut reaction is like Assassin's Creed II, but I know I probably love some sequel more than that. Uncharted 2, Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Mass Effect 2, Resident Evil 4? I could go on for days.
Screw it, I'll go with Burnout: Takedown. The first Burnout and its sequel were fine games, but Takedown is where the rubber hit the road. Have you ever felt the timeless perfection of the takedown? That perfect nudge, that magical tip that sends your opponents careening off the road? Then watching them crash in glorious slow-motion.
Burnout Revenge sort of delivered on that experience, and Burnout Paradise offered a fun open-world, but for my money none of them was purely perfect in a way that Burnout: Takedown was. It's just a masterpiece of a racing game and I wish more like it existed these days.
I super-love sequels that vault over their predecessors by degrees. The Mega Man series was once famous for doing this: Mega Man 2 improves on Mega Man several times over, same as Mega Man: Battle Network 2 improves greatly over the original.
Another stand-out example is Mega Man Legends 2. The first Mega Man Legends game has a lot of charm and character going for it, but Mega Man Legends 2 doubles that charm, and it has a great story, and it's filled with intriguing areas that are a blast to explore.
Would Mega Man Legends 3 have improved over Mega Man Legends 2 in similarly wide strides? We'll never know. Ha ha ha.
This is maybe the hardest question to answer. To make this a bit easier, I'm narrowing my options down to actual sequels, not the third, fourth, or millionth entry in a series.
For a boring answer, it's easy to point at Uncharted 2 as a great video game sequel. It does what all sequels should do: it expands in scope, introduces more endearing characters, it feels better to play in all other senses. Uncharted 2 is what all sequels should be: in improving upon what came before it, and then some.
For an oddball answer, Fantasy Zone 2: The Tears of Opa-Opa is amazing. Like Uncharted does in building upon its predecessor, Fantasy Zone 2 hosts a whole new world on top of its already existing one. A dark world that's brutally difficult, contrary to the saccharine zones of Fantasy Zone proper. The samba-inspired music is unforgettable, getting stuck in your head long after you put the game down. As a retro shmup, it's also been pushed through dozens of versions. The very best, in my opinion, is the 2008 remake that polishes its rougher edges, but retains its surprisingly sad spirit. (This is a series about a spaceship basically killing his evil spaceship dad, after all.)
For a recent answer, Nier: Automata and Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus are also great sequels. They're both the sort of games I'm really going to fight for when game of the year discussions roll around. So if my colleagues actually read this and haven't played them yet (other than our dear news editor Matt): then play them before the year is through, please.
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