One thing you can count on in the game industry is the sequel. In many ways, it's hard to think of a successful game franchise that hasn't been "sequelized" many times over, sometimes on a yearly basis. But, there are exceptions to the rule: Incredible games that deserve a sequel but have never received the "2" treatment. The reasons for this vary. Maybe a game didn't sell as well as a publisher had hoped, or perhaps, in the case of a company like Rockstar, they just haven't gotten around to it yet. Below is my list of five games that I'd love to see receive a "2" after their name sometime soon, either on the current consoles or future next-gen machines.
Here's an obvious one. Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption is one of the finest achievements of this console generation. John Marston's story arc was brilliant, as was the rich, immersive western world. Don't read this next sentence if you haven't finished the game, but at the end Marston dies and his son, James, takes over for the final playable sequence. James gets the redemption he's looking for, and he seems like the perfect character to carry forward the story for a sequel. My gut feeling is that Rockstar will eventually return to the world of Red Dead one day, but the company is so ambitious there's also a chance that their return to The Wild West may not be a direct sequel, as that's something Rockstar rarely does. Still, I get excited just thinking about where Rockstar could take this universe with co-operative online play, a refined "deadeye" slow-motion mode, and, of course, a new story with new, memorable characters. Rockstar is one of the most prolific publishers when it comes to creating new worlds and intellectual properties, but it would be a shame if they don't return to Red Dead at some point in the future.
Could John Marston's son James show up in a Red Dead Redemption sequel?
While developer DICE is now busy with Battlefield, a new Mirror's Edge is long overdue.
I grew up playing the games of Tim Schafer. Classic adventures like Grim Fandango, Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle. Schafer is a master storyteller and one of the funniest writers in the gaming business. While I'd like to see sequels to any of the above-mentioned games, his previous console title Psychonauts is one game that I would love to see return. Psychonauts is the story of a psychic summer camp-like X-Men Academy where a little boy named Raz meets other psychic characters. He enters their minds to solve puzzles and adventure through some incredibly wacky environments with "emotional baggage" he must defeat. It's artsy, original, and memorable.
The second Rockstar game on this list, Bully is one of the studio's more interesting creative choices over the years (besides Rockstar Table Tennis, that is). As Jimmy Hopkins, a young student in New England, you go to classes like chemistry, fight in the schoolyard, and even skateboard around campus. Like all Rockstar games, Bully has a complex story and character development far beyond what you'd expect from a schoolyard action game. What excites me about the idea of Bully 2 is how Rockstar could reimagine a teenage adventure, perhaps creating something even more complex and gritty with a less cartoonish feeling. Expand Bully 2 into a larger, more open-world adventure and extend the storytelling around the student's family and social life. It's also the kind of game that would work well with companion apps on iPhone or iPad, such as a fake Twitter-like network where you could get updates about characters in the world. It's probably a bit of a stretch to expect a sequel to Bully, but I would love to see where Rockstar could take the franchise.
Electronic Arts is known for a lot of sequels, but there's one game in the company's recent history that has never received a follow-up: Mirror's Edge. This new intellectual property came from DICE, the same studio now busy working on the Battlefield franchise. With its bold euro-futuristic look, Mirror's Edge is the story of Faith, an underground courier who is always on the move to avoid government officials. As you may remember, the game added a lot of platforming and parkour-like movements to a first-person shooter experience, where Faith would wall-run and vault over objects during combat scenarios. Mirror's Edge had its issues, but it's the kind of game that could learn from its mistakes and build on its systems for a sequel. The combat, for instance, was pretty primitive and would need to be drastically upgraded to compete with today's shooters. Still, the world of Mirror's Edge is striking and the concept of taking an Assassin's Creed-like experience into the first-person perspective is an area that is ripe for further exploration.
Though it just released last year, Dishonored from Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Studios turned a lot of heads with its bold art style and memorable gameplay. As the masked Corvo, you are a supernatural assassin, blending all the best of Assassin's Creed with the magic of a game like BioShock. With rich characters and assassination targets like Lady Boyle, Corvo's story of redemption creates a strong story arc with multiple different endings. I'm not sure which ending Arkane would see as the "canon" of this game for a potential sequel, but I get excited thinking about how the experience of Dishonored could be extended into a more open-world environment versus the structured "missions" of the first game. Bethesda has already gone on record saying that they see Dishonored as a franchise, so in this case you can bet that we will be seeing Dishonored 2 in the years to come.
That's it for this month, but make sure to come back in March when I'll be breaking down all the news from Sony's mysterious "PlayStation Meeting" later in February in New York. It's widely rumored that Sony will announce the PlayStation 4 at that event, and I'll give you my first impressions on what Sony had to show off right here in the March edition of Keighley's Q.