Our industry is obsessed with sequels. Just look at 2011's upcoming slate, for example; Gears of War 3, Arkham City, Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3, Elder Scrolls V. We're not complaining - not now, anyway - but it has made us think; what's the best follow-up yet this generation? We've had a whole host of excellent new IPs and long overdue successors. But what sequel has impressed us the most?
Now, before we dive in, a few ground-rules. First; to make this list, said sequel must follow up a game exclusive to this generation. So the likes of Fable 2 and so on and so forth don't count. Second; this must be the second entry in a series; not a third or a forth. Now we've got that out of the way, let's get cracking shall we!
10. Bioshock 2
We'll level with you; Bioshock is nowhere near as good as the original. It doesn't even come close. That said, living up to Irrational's dystopian underwater epic is a tall order. And while developers 2K Marin couldn't quite replicate the same sense of wonder, dread and jaw-dropping spectacle as Levine, they did deliver a solid, polished experience with a surprisingly robust and enjoyable multiplayer component. The created a game that could never really have the same impact, but they certainly made a slicker, smoother, more challenging FPS experience and for that, they should be commended.
9. inFamous 2
inFamous was a solid title that positively crackled with promise. It was a little rough around the edges, especially when it came to the stilted cut-scenes and copy-and-paste enemy design. With the sequel, Sucker Punch had already laid the important groundwork and now, with enough time and resources, could go about fulfilling Cole's potential. It's not perfect, by any means; but inFamous 2 is a strong sequel that totally outstrips its predecessor.
8. Dead Space 2
We're big fans of the first Dead Space here at Dealspwn. Visceral's clammy, dread-soaked original snatched the survival-horror crown from Resident Evil's slackening grip. So expectation was accordingly high for its sequel. We were initially skeptical; Isaac now talked, the survival-horror was being diluted with more action, and Visceral had lost a number of key staff to EA. Not to worry, however; as Dead Space 2 was fantastic, effortlessly building on the foundations of its predecessor while delivering an experience as bloody-curdling as you'd expect.
7. Resistance 2
The first Resistance game was the strongest title in the PS3's launch offerings, with its altered-history aesthetic and wonderful array of weapons. But Insomniac wasn't done. Trading 1940s Britain for an overrun North America, Resistance 2 pits the now-infected Nathan Hale against the worst of the Chimeran worst. Kraken, 150-foot behemoths, waves of zombie-like hybrids and more. It was epic, vast stuff; and we loved it.
6. Gears of War 2
Bigger, better and more badass. That was Epic's mantra for the sequel to the Xbox 360's defining title. If it didn't patent the cover-shooter, Gears certainly popularized it, and the sequel delivered the sort of raucous action and b-movie pulp you'd expect from Epic's testosterone-dripping title. While the story posed more questions than it answered, how can you argue with a game that straps you to a fifty-foot monstrosity bristling in cannons and sets you loose?
5. Uncharted 2
The first Uncharted was a great game; and still is. In fact, its visuals, mechanics and storytelling rival and often best today's offerings, despite being almost four years old now. But Naughty Dog didn't rest on their laurels; the action was increased, both in scale and polish. The visuals, already some of the best, showcased a spectacle thought impossible on home consoles. And the story, with Drake's trademark wit and heart, was an epic tale of treasure-plundering, revenge and jaw-dropping discovery. Bravo.
4. Saints Row 2
In a strange twist of fate, the game that so hoped to replicate the success of the last-gen Grand Theft Autos has inadvertently delivered the closest approximation in tone and style to the crime capers that graced the Playstation 2 and Xbox. With GTA 4 all po-faced and sullen, Volition took their chance and delivered a ludicrously fantastic open-world adventure, replete with epic prison breaks, helicopters and waste disposal trucks whose septic contents you spray everywhere!
3. Portal 2
Portal 2 is fantastic. Our review alone is proof of that. It's hard following up a surprise cult-hit with a revolutionary mechanic. It's even harder to best it in almost every possible way. But Valve did just that, building on the world of Aperture, the concept of portals - now bolstered with the inclusion of reality-warping gels. Co-op was the icing on top of a very meaty and delicious cake.
2. Assassins Creed 2
I love the original Assassins Creed. A lot of us did. But it was sort of like a concept car; great to look at, lots of promise, but not much else. Enter Ezio Auditore Di Firenze and Renaissance-era Italy, replete with dual hidden-blades, a day-night system and even gondolas! Assassins Creed 2 took everything we loved from the original, filled in the gaps and finally delivered on the potential Ubisoft's medieval action-adventurer first promised.
1. Mass Effect 2
It had to be Mass Effect 2. Bioware's space opera sequel stepped up in ever way imaginable; the visuals, the storytelling, the combat, even the characters. Bioware trimmed the fat and rust from the original, slapped on a new coat of paint, ironed out all the kinks and provided us with perhaps the best RPG this generation. Although importing your saved-game data had its drawbacks; I miss you, Wrex.
What sequels have most impressed you this generation, Dealspwners? Don't be shy, remind us what ones we've missed! And while we're on the topic of sequels; what's disappointed you the most? The Force Unleashed 2? Crackdown 2? Sign off in the comments below, or a get a discussion brewing in our forums!