The Best Shit Ever: Sequel Showdown
I already wrote up about what I consider the best games ever, but I was torn. Many of these games weren't included, but they deserve some chatter. Here it is. A showdown of sequels this is, which are better/the best? Read on!!!
I've already proclaimed Resident Evil 5 to be among the elite, the best shit ever, actually! However, as far as sequels go, Resident Evil 4 may be better in many ways!
Being that RE4 was such a revelation, bringing in a new era of the series, it wins simply based on innovation. The over-the-shoulder view was so welcome, as the controls were one of the only real problems with the original entries into the series. However, the story itself is stronger and more compelling. The sense of urgency is heightened by the lack of so much weaponry and the 2nd helping player. Near death in RE5? No big deal, you have an herb, your partner has an herb, and even if you're hit, they can still save you! Not so in RE4. It doesn't end there, though. The first chainsaw beheading left me wide-eyed and with a gaping jaw. I couldn't believe what I had just seen! The real-time events in the fourth entry are more abundant (and were also an innovative inclusion) and fun. Headshots were the most gratifying thing ever in gaming! Taking care of Ashley was a nuisance, but fortunately the developers took care to break it up and not have those sequences last too long. However, when playing w/ her, you had to be careful! Position yourself, call her over, then tell her to stay, run out and kill, find out 'zombies' were back there too! It was intense and that urgency gave me sweaty palms. Perfect!
On the other hand, the way RE5 was laid out is why it wins. I loved going back to each chapter, retrying, getting the S, getting the BSAA emblems, getting all the treasures, getting better times. The replay value of that game is through the roof, and the fun I had playing w/ a 2nd player, be it the main story, Mercenaries, Versus or the two downloadable expansions (Lost In Nightmares & Desperate Escape) made it the winner when comparing. I wish I could've gone back chapter-by-chapter in 4.
What's so funny is how much is almost identical. (Spoilers!) Of course you have your chainsaw dudes. Sadly you don't see the beheadings in 5. You've got the big troll dude, the boat part, the special rocket launcher ending, the caves setting, those damn bug-fly things, and both games feature more natural locales to begin before progressing to maked men wielding stun rods at the end. Having returned to play 4 after another completion of 5, I found them so very similar.
Perhaps growing up with Mario affects my opinion in this regard, but even now, in my mid-30s, very few games can hold a candle to Mario's stellar gameplay. Not many games have had such an impact on gaming as a whole as Miyamoto's Mario has.
Realistically, Mario may have several entries in the top 25 games of all time, or whatever fictional list I might devise. However, which was the best? How do they compare? Let's look from the bottom up.
Super Mario Bros.
There are others, of course, old GameBoy games, etc, but this covers what I consider the main entries into the series. That's 12 and ranking them seems an impossible task.
I choose #4, 5 & 8
(image from Castillo Illustration)
Bottom tier, SMB, SMS and probably the SMB2 games, though both are quite entertaining. I really didn't like Sunshine.
Middle tier would have to be SM64 for me, however legendary it may be, as its successors have trumped it while retaining all of what made it excellent. Also, SMW2, SMG and maybe even NSMB Wii. It's hard to imagine them not being top tier, but we're not comparing to Bayou Billy, but rather the cream of the crop.
Top tier. NSMB. The DS game blew my mind by its return to roots and pristine gameplay. When playing NSMB Wii I felt it inferior to the DS title.
SMB3. I remember the day it came out, the $75 price tag, the greatest game ever, many may say. The suits, tricks, awesome worlds (however generic they may be now) all added to the best gameplay the series had seen at the time.
SMW too was brilliant! A friend of mine and I, having found all 96 levels, spent an entire summer searching for 97 and 98 only to find out that it was 96 after all. Some of those exits were outrageously difficult. The beauty of Mario games started to evolve. You didn't need to beat them all. However, true gamers, true Mario fans, we all wanted to. An obsession that would continue into later games began. Levels has alternate and secret exits. Experts could test their skills by playing through the Star Road which changed the graphics for the whole game afterwards. Remarkable.
So, the reviews state that SMG2 is really that good. SMG was awesome. It was only the second main Mario game since 64, but it was a return to excellence. I loved it and searched out every single star (wish Wii had trophies/achievements!) SMG2 initially sounded like 1.5, really, and I wasn't expecting much. However, the game is phenomenal. I got every star this time around too, only to find out that there were a ton more! The varied worlds expanded on the first Galaxy game and offered more of everything, while keeping it all fresh and exciting. The only downside I could see is that there were only 6 worlds (plus S) rather than 8. The hard stars were not TOO hard. It was a simple balance that made this in the top 4.
SMB3 > SMW > SMG2 > NSMB.
They are all so good!
Metal Gear Solid came out in 1998 and I remember it so vividly. I was 22, living in my old apartment, and it was one of those 'things-will-never-be-the-same' experiences. These types of moments in life are hard to describe, but for those who lived through it, they know precisely what I'm talking about.
Simply put, the gameplay, story, cinematics and music were all magnificent and innovative. I had never played anything like that. The story was beyond any game I'd seen. The cinematics, breathtaking, the music, moving! The suspense was thrilling; the ending liberating. It was remarkable, and even a playthrough 10 years after its release left me stunned. Even the sound effects are etched into my mind. The general yelling when you die ("Snake? Snaaaake!"), every element of this game was treated with care, something that all gamers notice.
My daughter was just a few months old and I was off for summer vacation. She slept a lot and I decided to embark upon a gaming adventure. I was to play every MGS in a row.
After said subsequent playthrough, I moved on to Metal Gear Solid II: Sons Of Liberty. I bought the game at launch in 2001 but it really left me unimpressed. I never beat it. My second try 7 years later was better, but while many novel things were added, the convoluted story and ending sequences turned me off.
I quickly went on to Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater. Brilliant. The setting, graphics, boss battles...all stunning. I played through this game quickly but was again moved. The entire outro was intense, edge-of-your-seat excitement. Kojima did it once more with a stellar story, impeccable gameplay and fun, novel game mechanics. Naked Snake was awesome. The Boss was a deep, tortured character and Eva's inclusion gave the game depth most never come close to. It was one of those games that ends and you feel a sadness, both for the characters and due to the fact that is over. Red Dead Redemption left me feeling the same way. Moved.
As part 3 ended, the choice was made. I was buying Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns Of The Patriots. This game tied everything together, answered all the questions and did so in an emotional, exciting finale that was likely the most cinematic experience I'd ever experienced outside of films themselves. The boss battles were legendary. Tapping triangle to save Snake gave me a rare sense of true urgency in gaming. It was all just so amazing. Need I mention Raiden vs. Vamp? While I was less than thrilled with some of the middle missions, Kojima made this another deep, fun and emotional experience. Yeah, you call it an experience when it's over, not merely a game, however cliché that may sound!
Ultimately, a choice between the three is impossible. The first game impacted me more than the others. 3 was unique in the setting (1960s Russia), innovative boss battles and use of camouflage while 4 was the perfect ending to the series and perhaps the most emotional game I'd ever played. The ending (not the post-credits ending, bah), while expected, was about as perfect an ending to a game or series ever. All 3 have their place in the best shit ever category, so much so that even just writing about them makes me want to go back and play again!!!
I played both Uncharted games well after their release. Sure, I'd heard great things, but the demo of the first annoyed me with the gun-fight mechanics. They were too tough. However, once I got it, I found an incredibly-deep system that wasn't as shallow as I'd hoped it would be while playing the demo! It was challenging, but rewarding. The platforming was solid and, while a bit unrealistic, no less fun. I enjoyed the cinematic element of the game, lush locales, huge scope and entertaining sequences. From my descriptions already, this should be a remarkable game. However, to top it all off was the story itself.
From the intro to the credits, I was compelled. I fell in love with Elena and her chemistry with Drake. Many great movies feature such chemistry, but I've seen plenty that lacked the sheer connection the two had throughout. And again, that's just two characters. The entire story was an edge-of-your-seat thriller (not unlike MGS3). Towards the end, when things 'change', I was unsettled, frentic, nervous. Phenomenal.
Several months later I rented Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I expected more of the same as the reviews were through the roof.
Somehow improving upon any shortcomings of the first game, U2 was the epitome of an action game. It had every single element I would want. The story was somehow better! The gameplay refined! The entire scope, more vast! A game, perfected!
I cared about the characters. I was torn by their emotions. I felt rewarded by the deep gameplay. I was floored by the visuals. Looking over a ridge, I could see the woods below, swaying, all done in real time! Birds flew away in the distance which had nothing to do with what I was doing. The sheer attention to detail here was incredible. And all of this doesn't even speak of the entire train sequence, which was straight out of Hollywood's best. This was the type of game that you simply couldn't put down. You wanted to savor it, but could not wait to see what came next. Positively incredible.
I don't know if I could really crown U2 over the first, as the
first was so amazing when it came out. These should both be experienced
together (don't play 2 w/out playing 1). I cannot envision a 3rd game
being any better. Just play these games.