I’ve always liked the number 2 as a kid. I don’t really remember my reasoning for considering #2 as my favorite number but I think it was to remind myself that being in 2nd place was still an honor and sometimes, the #2 guy is the one mostly responsible for something awesome and deserves just as much credit as the #1 guy.
In the gaming world, however, I hate this number. This number reminds me of sequels that were just made so that the third or the fourth entry could be epic. The second iteration almost always feels like it’s not a must-play if you want to understand the story of the whole franchise.
Now of course, this doesn’t apply to every game series out there but seriously, just think of some game series and start asking yourself, was this game necessary?
Most of the time, to me at least, the answer is no. Devil May Cry 2, Halo 2, Resistance 2, Final Fantasy II, KOTORII, GTA2, Ace Combat 2, Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, The Sims 2, Doom 2, Elder Scrolls II… Gameplay in these sequels are still pretty damn awesome but their stories are either just filler material or the game as a whole just is forgettable compared to other entries in the series. I mean, when was the last time you had a person talking about GTA2 to talk about the GTA franchise? I’ve heard GTA2 be referred to as a bastard child of the series, but never in a way to make it seem like that game represented what the series was about.
But that’s not the only reason I’m deeply disturbed by the #2 in the gaming industry. The second iterations of games feel filler for one obviously big reason: cliffhangers.
It almost always feels like game developers have made this game just to make the franchise a bit bigger, so that they can create massive hype for the next iteration. They seem to assume that the best way to do this is to end the game with some ridiculously bs cliffhanger that makes absolutely no sense. This is frequent especially in shooters. Do I need to really talk about the endings of Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Killzone 2, and Resistance 2 to prove this?
I don’t mind cliffhangers if the way it’s presented is really thought-provoking and it occurs after this long rollercoaster ride but if it’s just there to tie into the next game without much happening to the actual game, then it makes the game feel worthless. Why did I play that game instead of just waiting for the third or the fourth iteration? The game feels filler, like it’s nothing more than just a rental material.
I think this is one of the major reasons why gamers often describe the industry as suffering from sequelitis. I have no problem with sequels and will def argue against people who claim that sequels ruin the industry, but when these sequels are so unnecessary and so blatantly filler material used either to introduce this new multiplayer component or to tie into the next game, then even I end up saying something about sequelitis.
To be sure, the third (MGS3, PoP Two Thrones, SOCOM3), fifth (CoD: WaW, RE5, FFV), and sixth entries (DW6, Romance of the Three Kingdoms VI) are often just as guilty of doing what #2 does so often but those numbers are less guilty because many franchises end at #3, and many others don’t go beyond #4.
That’s why I have often come to the conclusion that #2 is a filler number. I’ve rarely bought a game with #2 behind the title. I did really enjoy some games with #2 in them like Resistance 2 and Saints Row 2 but even in those cases, after good hours of fun, I get to thinking something like: ”so… will the third iteration actually be more meaningful than this?”
I think it’s a serious problem with the industry that the #2 can’t be anything more than filler. More devs need to making something substantial and meaningful with that number, more than just racing games (GT2 and Forza2 disprove this blog), and one that doesn’t go way too complicated with crazy cliffhangers all over the place (MGS2, i’m referring to you). I don’t know. I’m hoping that in the future, there are more second iterations that compel me to buy them rather than just renting them and getting it over with.