I’ve finally gotten around to both playing and finishing Fallout: New Vegas in the past week, even though I bought it almost a year ago. That leads me into my topic this week.
I want to talk about what I like to call non-sequels, games that take place in the same universe but do not continue a story or are similar in style. For example the majority of the Final Fantasy games do not feature a linear continuity but they are played in a similar manner.
Fallout: New Vegas continues in the same vein as Fallout 3 as a first person shooter come RPG, unlike Fallout 1 and 2, which are played from an isometric perspective. In some ways New Vegas is a side sequel to Fallout 2 taking place 200 odd years after the events of that game. Another criteria I have decided for non-sequels is a change of developer, something typified by New Vegas being created by Obsidian as opposed to Bethesda.
With a change in developer we get changes in playstyle. New Vegas adopted some mechanics from the first two Fallout games that had been removed by Bethesda in Fallout 3 to streamline the combat. They also added different types of ammunition (Armour Piercing and Hollow Point) to add an extra tactical element to the combat. There was the lack of a concrete storyline with the adventure being mostly player driven. I didn’t really enjoy this aspect of the game. I like when games offer me a choice but the game felt too driven by these choices, which were only strung together by minimal plot points.
Another great case for the non-sequel is Duke Nukem. With the same developer we saw both 2D and 3D games, however both Time To Kill and Land Of The Babes were developed by n-Space and not 3D Realms. Furthermore, n-Space moved Duke to a 3rd person perspective. In hindsight these were probably outsourced and licensed to generate more capital to sink into the then vaporous Duke Nukem Forever. In the Duke games we saw a change from side scroller to simple FPS to third person action adventure, requiring a little platforming skill and even rudimentary puzzle solving. However the non-sequel that has grabbed most of my time, has to be… yep I’m going there…
World of Warcraft. As close as we’ve currently got to a sequel to Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft held me in its claws for about 3 years in total. I grew up playing Warcraft 3 and getting to walk around that world was something I will never forget. Stepping foot into Stormwind for the first time was nothing short of epic (yeah I played Alliance, problems?). In fact I almost went back to it the other week but I remained steadfast in my WoW-sobriety. I enjoyed the game immensely.
Personally, I love getting a fresh take on a game world from a new developer, a new genre or a new medium. It’s as close as we can get to the notion of covering songs in the music world. As an example, let’s take the song Hallelujah. Written and performed originally by Leonard Cohen but most famously performed by Jeff Buckley, both versions have their own merits and are great renditions of the piece. This is how I like to view these games, Final Fantasy VII and Dirge of Cerberus are linked but the latter is not a true sequel to the former. Instead, it afforded us a fresh perspective on the game world.
I often think of what I’d like to see receive this treatment. Within the Warhammer universe we’ve seen strategy games, FPS and third person games, but mostly all from one of the super powerful factions in the universe. What I’d really like to see is an FPS from the perspective of an Imperial Guard squaddie, in the style of pre-reboot Medal of Honor.
Got any non-sequels you’d like to see? Talk about them down there in the comments section.