Sequels! [E3 2009]

Gamers may profess to want innovation in message board posts and blog posts, but they apparently aren’t voting with their wallet. Witness the rise of Activision on the strength of annualizing their franchises, and the decline of EA when the risks they took in bringing new IPs such as Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space weren’t rewarded in the marketplace.

These lessons seemed well learned by the major publishers and platform holders, as I’ve noticed a decided emphasis in this years E3 in the hype about sequels. Of course, this has likely always been the case, and perhaps I am just more sensitive to it this year because I work on the retail side of games and spent much of last holiday season watching people pass over the aforementioned EA games in order to pick up Call of Duty 5 and Guitar Hero 4 and all manner of Wii shovelware, sadly included among the crap was the rare misstep from legendary Nintendo game designer Miyamoto, Wii Music.

I am not writing this as a castigation of the industry for focusing on sequels, because this year I am definitely part of the problem. New Metal Gear starring Raiden? Sure! Another helping of Modern Warfare? Don’t mind if I do! More Metroid and TWO new Super Mario games? The Gods love me! The happiest I got during the Microsoft press event was the official announcement of Crackdown 2, and I’m very excited to see what that turns into in the wake of games such as inFamous and Prototype, which seem to have borrowed a lot from the original Crackdown. Can they surpass their descendants? I hope so!

Heck, I’m even excited for the upcoming EA Sports Active expansion, as I am currently in the middle of the game’s 30 Day Challenge, and Wii Fit Plus looks to be a significant improvement.

Some sequels even surprised me: despite the lack of interest I have for Splinter Cell and my flat-out antipathy for Assassin’s Creed, the footage shown has me interested in trying out those games as soon as I can.

[[image:090602_drake_copy2.jpg:Uncharted 2:center:0]]
Still, no game has supplanted the upcoming Uncharted 2 on my internal hype-meter. I love (love love) the first game and the sequel seems to be shaping up nicely. As I write this, the multiplayer beta is downloading to my PS3, and despite my misgivings (the first game was fine without multiplayer) I’ll probably be logging quite a few hours into the beta while it’s available.

I am a little disappointed that so-far no new IPs have caught my eye. It seems as if the major publishers and platform holders are playing it safe, and “new” games like Dante’s Inferno and EA Sports MMA appear to similar to existing games that they might as well be sequels. It is possible I have been blinded by all the hype surrounding the sequels shown and announced, and that there was new and interesting stuff shown that I didn’t notice because of it. I’m sure you guys will point it out if that is the case.

17 thoughts on “Sequels! [E3 2009]

  1. Nintendo had me with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. But then Galaxy 2 and Team Ninja Metroid?! Oh man. I’ll agree that the gods love us. Boy do they.

    But! There was one game that caught my eye that wasn’t a part of the sequel brigade, and that was ModNation. a user-created-everything cart racer? I’m there.

  2. Speaking of sequels, is anyone else surprised (and maybe even a little disappointed) that Left4Dead 2 is coming so soon? I thought the original would have longer legs, maybe get some new levels/weapons/characters someday.

  3. Yea, it does sound a lot like the big studios are playing it safe. Something I thought was a huge announcement that has so far gone unnoticed is that Gran Turismo 5 will have the Nascar seal of approval. All I’ve heard about racing games lately is how they’re becoming the new fighting genre: very niche. But a racing sim with such a huge pedigree and high quality like GT plus Nascar is sure to get all kinds of mainstream traction from the average Wal-Mart customer.

  4. Part of what bugs me with sequels is when it’s more of the same, and in fact I was almost apathetic about New Super Mario Bros. Wii and especially Super Mario Galaxy 2 until I actually saw trailers. Contrast this with Metroid: Other M, which looks to be a refreshing change of pace for the series and already off to a good start. Personally, Monado and Glory of Heracles have my interest, but it wouldn’t be the first time I get really interested in JRPGs that wind up being disappointments.

  5. I eventually bought Mirror’s Edge, but I waited for the $30 or $40 price point. The game is excellent, but its not worth paying $60 for a 10 hour experience.

  6. We got some incredible sequels this year, and I for one am excited. Yeah, the lack of original content is depressing, but they are literally reinventing many of the games there (splinter cell, NSMB, Metroid, etc.) and the established stuff is evolving (Uncharted, GT5).

  7. Sorry for the double post, but if you can’t get more than 10 hours from Mirror’s Edge, you’re doing it wrong. :

  8. Where do you people get your E3 news? I haven’t been keeping up, although I have seen some videos for Crackdown 2, Halo 3: ODST, and Alan Wake. I hope Alan Wake is good, but it isn’t coming out until 2010 according to its website.

  9. Apparently there’s something wrong with me too since I was able to do Mirror’s Edge start to finish in under 5 hours and that’s all I really cared for. Its decent, but $60 is asking a lot for so little. I’d suggest the industry lower the initial MSRP $10-$20 and these games would likely sell more if they didn’t cost $60, but they’d look at me like some kinda idiot and spit on me and call me crazy.

    Anyway, where’s the Canterbury Tales game? If any work of classic literature is begging to have a game made after it, its The Canterbury Tales.

  10. I agree with Moran. I only really cared for about 5 hours worth of Mirror’s Edge. Once it got to the combat it was downhill for me. The L4D2 announcement was a disappointment for me. I hope for the people that buy it that there are more than 4 levels out of the box for the $60 price tag.

  11. I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with more of a good thing, especially when a lot of these sequels are only up to number 2 (in particular, I’m ecstatic about Mario Galaxy 2). It’s when we start getting upwards of 5-6 games in a series over the course of a single consoles life span that I start to cringe. Doubly so when they end up not being “more of a good thing” thanks to inevitable, and unwanted, feature creep that adds poorly implemented features rather than refining what was already there.

    Modern Warfare 2 (COD6) gets a pass, by the way, because I only count the Infinity Ward entries.

  12. Um, it *is* Infinity Ward.
    They’re calling it simply “Modern Warfare 2” without the COD moniker.

  13. Overall, to me anyways, E3 2009 was one HUGE Zzzzzzzz-fest. I didn’t like it at all! There were far too many videogame sequels, there was too much blood, guns and mindless violence, and, there were way too many me-to devices. What happened to originality, creativity and simplicity in videogames?

    Oh! Oh! I almost forgot to mention this. I also hated all the media center and social networking stuff. I don’t want it and I don’t need it! Goofy looking Felicia Day! Ugly ass bitch!

  14. Er, yeah, I meant that I’m ok with, and excited about, Modern Warfare 2, despite technically being the sixth Call of Duty, and the fifth in one console generation.

  15. Apparently, Spielberg is making a Tintin game. I am probably the only person in the world who is excited about it.

    @Levi: I also felt that the bad fiscal year for EA was a sign of players not wanting innovation (or, at least, not the sort of innovations EA provided). This year is the year of playing it safe because so many gamers played it safe last year (I am most certainly among the guilty).

  16. Does ‘The Last Guardian’ count as a sequel? I mean, it’s a Team ICO production that looks very very very much like their last two games. Not, of course, that there is anything remotely wrong with that.

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