Sequels clearly better than the original?
When it comes to movie franchises, most believe the first movie is usually the best one. But does that apply to gaming? Here's a list of sequels I find to be clearly superior to the immediate predecessor (so not necessarily all predecessors) in essentially every way.
- Turok 2: Seeds of Evil (1998) - Far more open, artistic, less generic level design than the original, cooler weapons, more enemy variety, smoother mechanics.
- Resident Evil 2 (1998) - Much improved gameplay and difficulty than the original.
- Silent Hill 2 (2001) - Strongly advanced storytelling for the genre, much better gameplay and visuals too.
- Grand Theft Auto III (2001) - No more top down crap, a 3D open world to screw around in with much more to do. Not just about jacking cars anymore.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002) - From procedurally generated to hand crafted, so much more immersive and better in every possible way.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) - Clearly significantly better than all previous GTA games in every way.
- Half-Life 2 (2004) - Less about shooting your way out of an army base, more about exploring a post-apocalyptic oppressed world and freeing it from its shackles. Much better gameplay.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006) - Far less clunky, much better character interaction, even more expanded gameplay, much less linear, much better plot and story.
- Penumbra: Black Plague (2008) - Overture was a great introduction, but Black Plague manages to pack so much more into the same duration without getting out of hand, making it a more impressive feat. It's also far scarier.
- Left 4 Dead 2 (2009) - Melee mechanics, more items, more enemy variety. Not a big leap though, feels more like an expansion than a sequel.
- Fallout: New Vegas (2010) - Compared to Fallout 3, significantly better in almost every way including the two most important areas: Role-playing and writing quality. Only worse in level design, so it's probably the only sequel here worse than its immediate predecessor in one way.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011) - Another surprising entry if you just read what most people say. Human Revolution is much more mature and, believe it or not, more open ended than the original. The original tries to mimic 80s action movies like Robocop while Human Revolution tackles its themes with far more finesse, far more intelligent dialogue and easily the best persuasion system ever designed for a game. As a stealth game it is also infinitely superior. The original does have more gameplay elements, but the supposedly huge amazing levels just have a bunch of empty space and don't match the artistic design of Human Revolution. Not only this but Human Revolution is less linear where it really matters—approaching objectives.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) - Better than Oblivion (but not Morrowind) in almost every way for sure, the one exception being the plot, but it's not even a plot driven game so believe it or not, not a whole lot is lost.
- Mass Effect 3 (2012) - You'd never know it by how different its reception is to that of Mass Effect 2. ME3 has far better, more dynamic character interaction with better dialogue, and greatly improved gameplay that's superior in many ways (more variety, better balance, so much more fun).
- Natural Selection 2 (2012) - GoldSource engine (original) vs heavily modded Source engine that produces very nice graphics (this one). NS2 also has so many more gameplay elements, far too many to count.
- Rising Storm (2013) - Red Orchestra 2 + Pacific theater expansion (a few more vehicles, far more maps and weapons in a totally different setting, appropriate units) + more features and better graphics. Also better than the original in basically every way, as the original is probably the most clunky shooter ever made to begin with, and does nothing to redeem itself compared to this one.
I haven't played them yet but I'm sure Baldur's Gate II and Fallout 2 are actually the best examples.