Sequels are a tricky business. Like a musician’s second album, it has to build upon the foundations set by the original, while simultaneously introducing a number of fresh elements and attempting to better its predecessor in every conceivable manner. Invariably things don’t always pan out, though when it does, we’ve been privy to some of the best slices of gaming on the market. PlayStation 3 has seen its fair share of disappointing sequels (Resistance 2, Resident Evil 5 spring to mind), but mostly, the platform’s CV has a glowing record when it comes to follow-ups.
With PS3 approaching its six-year milestone on the market, PSU.com decided to scrutinize some of the console’s biggest and best sequels to date. Did your favourite make the cut? Read on to find out.
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UNCHARTED 2: AMONG THIEVES
Nathan Drake’s globetrotting spectacle isn’t just one of the finest PS3 sequels to date, but one of the best games this generation, period. The original Uncharted was top-notch make no mistake, but Among Thieves tops it in virtually every avenue. Developer Naughty Dog really went to town with this sequel, offering a compelling adventure packed with sumptuous visuals, jaw-dropping set-pieces and frantic gunplay. Remember how Terminator 2: Judgement Day took the series from surprise hit to Hollywood blockbuster? Well, that’s pretty much how Among Thieves propelled the Uncharted series back in 2009. PS3’s graphical muscle was pushed more than it had ever been up until that point, allowing for dynamic lightning, intricate textures and stunning facial animations. Gameplay was far more diverse too, implementing more emphasis on stealth and CQC, while the script was far more adventurous, taking Drake from the jungles of Borneo to the freezing mountains of Tibet. Oh, and final ingredient: multiplayer was introduced for the first time, offering a robust online component ripe with perks and addictive combat. Until the sequel arrived, Among Thieves was undeniably the PS3’s quintessential action-adventure – though for some people, it still hasn’t been topped.
Resistance started out great with 2006’s Fall of Man, but when Nathan Hale rocked up again in Resistance 2, something wasn’t quite right. Enter Resistance 3, the grittiest, most captivating entry in the franchise to date. The key component here is the absence of Hale; the stoic hero took a bullet to the head at the climax of R2, and was replaced by family man Joseph Capelli. By contrast, Capelli’s battle against the tenacious Chimera packs far greater emotional punch than any of the previous games, and remains unequivocally the strongest lead of the series to date. It’s not just the narrative that comes out better, either. Resistance 3 is dark. Very dark, in fact. There’s a palpable sense of hopelessness to the proceedings as you creep around the remnants of U.S. civilisation, taking in dilapidated buildings, barren wastelands and burnout vehicles. It’s overwhelmingly depressing, but that’s what makes it such an immersive, cinematic experience. Humanity is on the brink of collapse, and you and a few other stranglers are pretty much all that stands between the survival of the human race and total annihilation. Throw in some superb weapons, intense battles and a solid multiplayer, and you essentially have the game Resistance 2 should have been, but ultimately failed to deliver.
ASSASSIN’S CREED II
Assassin’s Creed II makes the original game look like a high-end tech demo. While I personally loved Altair’s stab-happy jaunt through the crusades, it was undeniably flawed, and Ubisoft was acutely aware of this when they green lit the sequel. With a new hero in the shape of enigmatic womanizer Ezio Auditore, Assassin’s Creed II expanded further into the series’ comprehensive lore by taking gamers into the lush, architecturally-stunning backdrop of the Italian Renaissance. Aside from the new setting and lead, the gameplay completely flourished, with players now able to take part in mandatory missions and side quests, eliminating the original’s monotonous info-gathering. Free-running is just as intuitive as it always has been, and Ezio has a few new tricks up his sleeves to make him even more adept at surreptitiously stabbing his foes. Not only that, but a monetary system has been implemented, allowing Ezio to purchase weapons, equipment and healing items, as well as renovate shops and other buildings in his home town. Throw in some superb, cerebrally-challenging puzzles and superbly-design platforming segments in the Assassin’s Tombs, and you have one of the biggest success stories of this gen.
Medial Molecule’s do-it-yourself platform franchise remains one of the most beloved and innovative PS3 titles to date. The original LittleBigPlanet is an all-time classic, and we didn’t think it could be surpassed – but somehow, LBP2 delivered the goods. SackBoy’s ambitious sequel takes everything that was great about the original – the limitless amount of creativity, superb controls and scrumptious graphics – and ups the ante tenfold. Of course, one of the things to consider pumping out a sequel to a game like LBP, which relies heavily on user-driven content, is the fact gamers have already spent countless hours investing in the original. Has all that gone to waste if you pick up the sequel? Nope, because MM sagaciously opted to include backwards compatibility with original LBP content, allowing you to carry over all DLC and the majority of fan-made levels. The most significant change to the LPB mould however is the opportunity to cobble together stages outside of the platform paradigm. Gamers can now design levels based around a variety of genres, including racing, puzzle and even RPGs. You can also make cut-scenes to complement your works. As with the original, there’s an almost endless array of content to play with here, and again you can share it with the LBP community by uploading your creations online. Quite simply, LBP2 is as comprehensive as user-created games get; an unrestricted, dazzlingly beautiful game packed full of lush production values in which to flex your creative muscles.
A controversial opinion perhaps, seeing as how many ‘threequels’ often fail to live up to expectations. However, in Killzone 3’s case, we firmly believe that it improves up its predecessor and comes out the better game. For one, you have the added advantage of PlayStation Move functionality, which offers one of the most enjoyable games in the peripheral’s line-up to date. Sure, it’s not required, and the DualShock 3 is just as competent, but it’s still a heap of fun. Throw in 3D support and you have one of the most action-packed, visually-striking shooters on the market. Above all however, Killzone 3 refines the gameplay just that much more to produce something that’s fundamentally more polished than its precursor. Developer Guerrilla Games was adamant about listening to fan feedback, and the results speak for themselves. Environments are now more varied, replacing Killzone 2’s repetitive urban wastelands with lush jungles, harsh arctic landscapes and outer space scraps. Jetpacks have been added – and let’s face it, Jetpacks make anything automatically more thrilling – and the new Brutal Melee system makes proximity encounters that much more strategically rewarding with the addition of combos. Oh, and let’s not forget it’s easily one of the most graphically stunning games on PS3 to date.
THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
Oblivion was a masterful western RPG, and aside from an obvious aesthetical overhaul, many were stumped as to how the next game could top it. Fortunately, Bethesda made Skyrim, and silenced any doubters. Like its predecessor, the RPG sequel comes packed with a staggering 200+ hours of content, ranging from core storyline missions to the hundreds of side quests on offer. The fresh setting of the titular Skyrim allows for some sumptuous vistas and hours upon hours of exploration and freedom; the Nordic-inspired fantasy realm accommodates tons of dungeons to explore, offering ample loot opportunities and enemy encounters. Speaking of foes, the Dragons make a comeback after a lengthy hiatus, bringing with them some of the most cinematic duels the series has seen to date. Of course, while Oblivion was mechanically sound, Skryim adds its own distinct flavour into the mix by giving combat a more visceral edge thanks to some gruesome finishing moves. There’s more variety in the dialogue, better performances, all-new enemies, and thanks to the radiant storytelling, you’ll never run out of things to do. The level of immersion and escapism in Skyrim is frankly unrivalled, and thanks to some much-improved character animation, Oblivion’s plastic doll NPCs are a thing of the past. Simply put, one of the greatest RPGs ever conceived.