Sequels have often been frowned upon in film, as few sequels live up to the original. Rarely is this the case for video games. Because there are so many aspects that make up video games, there’s always room for improvement in a sequel — be it the graphics, the story or a new game mechanic.

While it’s always ideal to wish for there to be more fresh titles coming out, the reality of the business is that making games is expensive, and creating a sequel to an established franchise will always be easier and financially safer than bringing out an untested name. But sequels shouldn’t be bemoaned simply for being iterative. New games in a franchise usually only arise if the predecessor was good, which means that the upcoming product will most likely be better.

I say all this because 2011 is shaping up to be a year chock-full of sequels. It almost looks like there are more video games with a number at the end than without. Fortunately, most of these titles look really, really promising.

Sony’s two premier first-person shooter franchises, “Killzone 3” and “Resistance 3,” are set to release on Feb. 22 and Sept. 6, respectively, and Microsoft’s “Gears of War 3” is expected in September. All three of these games look beautiful and have the human race fighting against a race of ugly monsters of some form or another. Go figure.

If you want a little more thinking in your shooting games, April is the month for hotly anticipated “Portal 2,” a shooter/puzzle solver with a surprisingly great sense of humor where the only gun you have shoots portals.

Some notable fall releases include shooter/RPG hybrid “Mass Effect 3,” the much-anticipated conclusion to the sprawling sci-fi narrative of the “Mass Effect” trilogy, which is slated for a November release. There’s also “Uncharted 3” following up on the globe-hopping adventures of Nathan Drake, which merged shooting and platforming brilliantly.

Not fond of shooters and want an action adventure game instead? How about “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” for the Wii, which now features one-to-one movement between the Wii remote and the sword in combat. Don’t have a Wii? There’s also “Infamous 2” on the PS3, sequel to a slick open world game about a protagonist with electric super powers. Both are expected in the fall.

What about fighting games? How about “Marvel vs. Capcom 3” on Feb. 15, pitting an inordiante amount of characters from the Marvel comics against video-game characters from Capcom’s published games. There’s also everyone’s favorite gore-fest, “Mortal Kombat” (essentially “Mortal Kombat 9” rebranded) due out Apr. 19.

Traditional role-playing games are also looking up, with the high fantasy “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Developer Bethesda has been known for its “go anywhere, do anything” philosophy to game design, and its open-world approach will undoubtedly be impressive again this year.

Even the PC market is looking strong. “Guild Wars 2,” sequel to one of the most successful free to play massively multiplayer online role playing games, is set to be released on Nov. 2. Blizzard, famed creators of “World of Warcraft” and Starcraft, is expected to release Diablo III this year as well, a hellish dungeon crawler.

This massive amount of titles doesn’t even include original properties, handheld games, downloadable games, lesser known sequels or games yet to be announced — it’s really kind of staggering. It’s nice to wish for more innovation to come out of the industry, but at the same time, it’s exciting to see improvements being made in “2”s and “3”s. It’s also great to see new entries in established franchises, like “The Elder Scrolls” and “Zelda,” which can almost always be counted on for quality. There may be a lot of sequels this year, but who can complain when so many of them look excellent?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.