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Opinion: Why Naughty Dog Shouldn’t Make A Sequel To The Last Of Us

I beat The Last of Us a couple weeks ago, but that adventure is still ringing through my head like a brass bell. The game easily sits on my list of the five greatest games from this generation, and yet, I don't think I want to see a sequel.

This opinion originally published on July 15, 2013.

(The following is spoiler free. But if you want The Last of Us spoiled for you, go here.)

The Last of Us tells a grim story about a world 20 years after a terrible plague ravages the world's population, turning many into zombie-like monsters. Born among the ashes of civilization is Ellie, a young woman who might hold the key to curing this terrible disease. Her journey across the country alongside her new found guardian, Joel, is a riveting, white-knuckle rush. The game's action was so well balanced that I constantly felt like it was tethering between feeling capable and getting lost in the chaos. I loved every minute of it, and I didn't want that journey to end. Even so, now that I've finished the game, I don't think I want Naughty Dog to revisit the world with a sequel. The reason is simple: the story is too good.

I'm not averse to sequels. I walk away from plenty of experiences eager for more. I dreamt about The Avengers sequel for months following last year's summer blockbuster. I can't wait for EA's recently announced Mirror's Edge continuation, and I'm looking forward to new entries in series like Tomb Raider, XCOM, and Telltale's The Walking Dead. Don't get me wrong, I'm not really into what I like to call the Tony Hawking of games; I'm tired of seeing a new Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed game every year. However, I think some games are built to become series, while others make a better standalone experience. The Last of Us is the latter.

I know that Naughty Dog is thinking about potential sequels. Honestly, I won't mind if it tried to make a spiritual sequel to the game – take the scavenging mechanics and the intense action from The Last of Us and wrap them around another story set in a completely different world. However, I think Naughty Dog would be doing The Last of Us a disservice if it turned its newest property into a franchise, because The Last of Us told such a powerful and complete story that adding anything more to it would dilute the original.

I want to respect those who haven't played the game yet, and I want them to be able to play through the game and enjoy it for all it's worth, so I won't include any spoilers here, but I will say that The Last of Us' tale left such an impact on me that I'm sure I'll still be thinking about it years from now. The biggest reason the game's story hit me so hard is because Naughty Dog crafted some amazingly interesting characters.

I think it's kind of funny that Irrational Games spent so much time talking about the effort it put into crafting Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, while Naughty Dog's characters are easily the most believable in video games. Don't get me wrong, I thought Irrational did a great job with Elizabeth. She was cute, funny, and a joy to be around. However, if I had a crush on Elizabeth while playing BioShock Infinite, I completely fell in love with Joel and Ellie while playing The Last of Us. I felt like I had journeyed through hell with them as they crossed the country, and by the end I wanted to see them succeed. I never felt bonded to Elizabeth in the same way.

By the time The Last of Us' credits rolled I felt the same way I have felt after reading a well-crafted novel or emotional film: I felt satisfied. The Last of Us needs nothing more, and I feel like adding to the game would only lessen the impact of Naughty Dog's well-constructed adventure.

I know that this isn't how the game industry works. Naughty Dog has built a brand with The Last of Us. New intellectual properties are hard to sell, and the developer went out on a limb by creating something fresh and original. And it succeeded. It seems only fair that it should be able to utilize some of the capital it's built up by making a sequel. After all, a second game is bound to sell even better than the first (I'd hypocritically buy a copy).

Then again, Gone with the Wind is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and it didn't get a sequel. Do books like The Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby need sequels because people liked them? Do films like Schindler's List and Casablanca need sequels because they were critically acclaimed? No they don't, because they are works of art, and great art can stand on its own. The Last of Us is good enough to do just that. – The Feed

10000000 Sequel Sailing Our Way Next Month

You Must Build A Boat, the sequel to 2012's hit puzzle game 10000000, is hitting our shores in early June. In addition to the letting us know when we can play it, EightyEightGames has released a new gameplay trailer.

The game is coming to iOS, PC, and Android on June 4. Take a look at the video below to get a glimpse of how it plays (or a refresher, if you're a 10000000 vet). As you can see in the trailer, you aren't just building a boat; you're expanding it to become a floating base of operations.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more on the game, take a look at our interview with the game's creator, Luca Redwood. He talks about how the game went from being an update to a full sequel, and his decision to offer You Must Build A Boat as a free download to people who bought 10000000. – The Feed

Six Dreamcast Games That Demand A Modern Sequel

In the grand scheme of gaming history, the Sega Dreamcast was barely a blip on the radar. Sega's ill–fated console was never the most popular system on the market, and was only officially on store shelves for about a year-and-a-half. Even so, the Dreamcast produced a small number of gaming gems that many of today's fervent gamers might not be familiar with. Now is the time to resurrect these franchises.

Many Dreamcast titles like Samba de Amigo, Typing of the Dead, Crazy Taxi, and Resident Evil Code: Veronica eventually migrated over to other consoles, but the Dreamcast's library hasn't been completely strip-mined. Here are our top picks for games that should get another sequel on modern consoles.

6. Power Stone

Most fighting games drop two opponents on opposite sides of the screen and then have them punch and kick each other using a series of button combos. That system works fine, but we don’t think most brawls play out anything like that. This is why we appreciate Power Stone’s hectic beat downs, which allow you to use tables, chairs, and rocks as weapons in epic 4-player slugfests. During these battles, players struggle to nab power stones that give their character an extra leg up in battle. This was one of the best party games on the Dreamcast, and given the popularity of Super Smash Bros., we’re a little surprised that Capcom hasn’t tapped this chaotic 4-player brawler for a reboot.

5. Chu Chu Rocket
Chu Chu Rocket’s offbeat structure harkens back to the zany, anything goes mentality of the ’80s arcade. Players dropped arrows onto a game board in order to redirect mice towards rocket ships, while avoiding bottomless pits and the hungry jaws of roaming cats. The game played a lot like a mobile game before the devices really existed, so it's not surprising that in 2010 the game was adapted for iOS (and a year later for Android). However, one of Chu Chu Rocket’s greatest strengths was its frantic multiplayer mode, which shines better on console, so we hope that Sega does the right thing and gives us a downloadable console-friendly sequel.

4. Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio’s graphical style holds up surprisingly well, which is largely thanks to its then innovative cel-shaded visuals. Part Tony Hawk, part open world adventure title, Jet Set Radio threw in-line skates on players and had them motoring through a futuristic Japanese cityscape. Here they painted the landscape with graffiti and rebelled against an oppressive government and a series of rival gangs. The game received Xbox and GBA sequels as well as an HD remake in 2012, but we also see Jet Set’s spirit alive in Sunset Overdrive’s (another game you should play) massive open-world traversal mechanics. It would be a true shame if such an innovative and unique title never received another sequel.

3. Grandia II
Grandia actually received a number of sequels, but none of them hold a candle to this epic Dreamcast RPG, which focuses on a sarcastic mercenary who takes a job to protect a group of people as they attempt to reseal an ancient evil god. When the resealing gets botched, players are launched into a epic quest to save the world. Grandia II’s dynamic battle system allows players to move their characters around the field while their attacks charged. Well-timed attacks could also cancel out enemies' moves and allow your party to steamroll through dungeons. It’s unfortunate that the sequels have failed to capture the magic of this Dreamcast classic. A Japanese MMO called Grandia Online finally shut down in 2012, so this franchise is ripe for a revival.

2. Shenmue
Actually, never mind.

1. Skies of Arcadia
Skies of Arcadia is a bit of a mystery. It's one of the Dreamcast’s most popular titles, garnering rave reviews and a massive amount of fan praise. It was was even re-released on the Nintendo GameCube a few years later. Despite all this, it never got a sequel! This stellar turn-based RPG followed a group of air pirates as they explored a giant world to stop an evil Empress from taking over it. One of the best parts of the game were the epic ship-to-ship battles, which we haven’t seen emulated in many other games. It’s a true shame that Skies of Arcadia has disappeared from our gaming landscape altogether, but we hope to see it rise from the ashes someday.

Learn how the original Xbox was almost designed to play Dreamcast titles and more fun facts in this Did You Know Gaming video. – The Feed

Where’s My Sequel? – Knights Of The Old Republic

Star Wars has a long history in gaming, and Knights of the Old Republic is one of the best and most popular splinters of the franchise. The series makes players feel like a genuine part of the expansive Star Wars experience, and is one of the few games to do this legendary property justice. But if KOTOR is so great and revered, why haven’t we gotten a true sequel in more than 10 years?

What It Is
Knights of the Old Republic is a role-playing game set thousands of years before the original Star Wars trilogy. Though it doesn’t feature any familiar faces from the films, it has almost all of the classic Star Wars hallmarks, like Jedi Knights, Sith Lords, droids, and spaceships. Leveraging its experience with Dungeons & Dragons titles like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights, developer BioWare created the original entry. Obsidian Entertainment (the studio behind recent hits like Pillars of Eternity and South Park: The Stick of Truth) made the sequel.

As RPGs, the KOTOR games give players an unprecedented opportunity to explore and interact with the Star Wars universe; you aren’t stuck in a cockpit, or platforming through strange 2D adaptations of the movies. You speak with strange aliens, travel to distinct worlds, make decisions between good and evil, and (of course) wield a lightsaber and Force powers. The games capture the look and feel that Star Wars fans are already familiar with, but throw in enough unexpected surprises to keep things fresh and exciting.

KOTOR first released on Xbox in 2003, and its sequel followed in 2004. KOTOR II had some significant technical and pacing issues (likely due, in part, to its short development cycle), but both games were well received by fans and critics. After years of dormancy, BioWare and LucasArts revived the property in 2011 with an MMO called Star Wars: The Old Republic.

When It Stopped
Strictly speaking, it hasn’t stopped. The Old Republic MMO is still running, and keeps this vision of the universe intact. However, that’s more of a technicality; the KOTOR that players love is a story-driven, single-player experience with interesting party members, tactical combat, and unforgettable twists. The Old Republic is certainly a decent MMO that incorporates more story elements than other entries in the genre typically do, but it isn’t the true successor fans have wanted.

What Comes Next
Gaming has changed a lot in 10 years, and no new sequel should follow such an old blueprint. Though pause-and-play combat can be fun, BioWare should move away from the strict rules-based approach. The KOTOR games were governed by the D&D ruleset, but it would be possible to retain the tactical RPG flavor without having to juggle multiple action queues. After all, the most memorable Star Wars battles are fast and kinetic affairs. Having to pause too much would kill the flair and momentum of combat.

That doesn’t mean that battles should be entirely action-based. BioWare’s success with Dragon Age: Inquisition demonstrates that the studio knows how to blend style and strategy in order to create encounters that are fluid and challenging. A direct clone probably wouldn’t be a great idea, but it isn’t hard to imagine Jedi and smugglers taking the place of mages and rogues in the general format of Inquisition’s combat.

In terms of story, starting from scratch is the best option. Acknowledge the events of previous games, of course, but don’t be bound by them. For one thing, several lingering story questions have been answered by The Old Republic and other sources, so some of the mystery is gone. For another thing, many gamers today either A) haven’t played, or B) don’t remember KOTOR I and II. A new cast facing new problems would be ideal – but don’t forget a few cameos (HK-47!) for the longtime fans.

One element that needs to be overhauled drastically is the morality system. The Star Wars universe is not about shades of gray; the major players are either good or evil. Allowing players to go back and forth between those extremes feels strange. In previous games, it would be possible to perform an act of selfless sacrifice one minute, then perform an act of depraved malice the next. If you do that, your character feels inconsistent…but if you don’t, you’re not making much of a choice at all.

The emphasis on choice is important, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be about choosing good or evil. In fact, maybe you could choose to be a Jedi or Sith right away, and then all of the other options would be tailored to that alignment. That way, every choice wouldn’t be, “Are you good or evil,” but rather “How good/evil are you?” This opens the door for nuance an ambiguity while still staying true to Star Wars’ thematic form.

Other things from previous games can stay more or less intact. You should have a cool spaceship (except it should be more customizable). You should have party members with unique personalities and interesting story arcs. You should be able to tear through your opponents with a wide array of Force powers. All of those features would undoubtedly be surrounded by things you never knew you wanted from a Star Wars RPG. Ultimately, the only thing we’re sure of is that KOTOR III should happen, and the rest of the details can get sorted out later. – The Feed

Final Fantasy Type-0 Teases Sequel With Fiery Secret Video

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD comes out tomorrow, but due to some copies breaking street date, the secret movie has already been uploaded to YouTube by user Khaled Rizk. While the unlock conditions for the secret movie remain unknown, if you don't mind spoiling the video you can look at the trailer below which features a dying samurai being revived by some kind of spirit or demon.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

It is likely that this trailer is teasing a future entry in the Type series as trademarks have been filed for Type-1, Type-2, and Type-3 which, like the main series, is envisioned to offer stand-alone tales. It is interesting to note that the face of the character, his voice, and sole line of dialog is shared by Ace in Type-0 so it remains unknown how this video ties into Type-0 beyond that. You can check out our review for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD here.

[Source: YouTube]


Our Take
I’m excited to check out Final Fantasy Type-0 tomorrow despite there being a wide range of opinions on its quality. Should it prove enjoyable, I’m certainly excited to check out a Final Fantasy influenced by Japanese supernatural mythology. Considering director Hajime Tabata is focused on Final Fantasy XV, I’m not expecting anything from this teaser for the next few years. – The Feed

Inti Creates Announces Azure Striker Gunvolt Sequel For 3DS

Azure Striker Gunvolt, the Mega Man-inspired 3DS platformer from the studio behind Mega Man Zero, is getting a sequel.

Inti Creates hasn't offered any details about the sequel, and its website is currently down making it even more difficult to learn any new details on Gunvolt's new adventure, but it is coming, and it will be for 3DS. Inti Creates has another announcement planned for today, but technical issues are delaying it slightly.

For our review of Azure Striker Gunvolt, head here.

[Source: @GunvoltGame, IntiCreates on Facebook, IntiCreates] – The Feed

District 9 Director’s Alien Film Will Be A Sequel To Aliens

Neill Blomkamp teased and then officially announced his intentions to make a new Alien movie, and some new details about the plans for movie have surfaced.

In the video below from Sky Movies, Sigourney Weaver confirms her involvement in the project (she was part of the cast of Blomkamp's new film Chappie), and Blomkamp shares his intentions to ignore Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. "I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of Aliens," says Blomkamp. Not much else is known about Blomkamp's Alien regarding release date or additional cast members, but the director did confirm it is next project following Chappie, which releases March 6.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The Alien franchise is hugely influential on modern video games even if recent video game adaptations of the Alien franchise have been hit and miss.

[Source: Skymovies] – The Feed

Where’s My Sequel? – Binary Domain

Binary Domain is – in my opinion – secretly one of the best
third-person shooters from the last generation.

Unfortunately, the game was dragged through the mud thanks to
its focus on voice commands, which was a contributing factor to Game Informer's review. When Binary Domain launched and the voice commands
didn’t work, the failure of a relatively superficial system stole the thunder of its unique conversation mechanics, solid gameplay, and
excellent story.

What It Is:

Binary Domain is a handful of things that don’t seem like
they’d fit together on the surface. Its combat and some of its characters
resemble Gears of War’s brand of squad-based cover-shooting, complete with most
of the mechanical polish you’d expect from one of Epic’s shooters.

It feels good to unload on the robotic enemies, and the
ability to dismantle them with your gunfire is one of its best design choices.
It’s endlessly satisfying to blow up a scrap-head’s leg and watch it crawl
around like a Terminator, or shoot off a head and watch it turn on other robots.
A handful of massive bosses present excellent opportunities to explore the
well-crafted environments and toy with destruction.

Just below the surface is a slightly pared-down version of everything
you’d expect from a last-generation BioWare game. You upgrade main character
Dan Marshall and the rest of the party along with their weapons and skills,
respond to dialogue as you move through the world, and even decide how the
party splits up.

Topping off the excellent gameplay is one of my favorite
science-fiction video game stories of all time. Binary Domain is set in a
future where mass flooding of the planet forces the human race to turn to robotic
help to rebuild and survive. After it’s discovered that someone is violating
international law to create robots that look indistinguishable from humans, a
group of soldiers known as a Rust Crew is tasked with tracking down the man
believed to be responsible.

The story eventually unravels into a satisfying blend of
Metal Gear Solid-level craziness, thoughtful reflection on the technological
future of the human race, and a dash of Japan’s always wonderful take on American
action-hero bravado. The cast of characters steal the show though. The Rust
Crew is more than just cookie-cutter military filler; they feel like real
people, and that makes getting to know them a treat.

The one downfall of Binary Domain is that the voice commands
just don’t work. Fortunately, voice commands can, and should, be turned off in
favor of more traditional inputs.

When It Stopped:

Developed by Ryu ga Gotoku Studios, the team behind the Yakuza
games, Binary Domain released in the spring of 2012. The biggest problem with the end
of development for Binary Domain is the same problem that occurs in other
multi-project studios: People leave when the project is over.

Following the release of Binary Domain, director Daisuke
Sato was bumped down to the role of an environmental artist for Yakuza: Dead
Souls. He now works for Konami as an environmental artist for the Metal Gear
Sold series. Losing the director was bad enough, but other key players have
also left.

Lead Designer Hiroyuki Sakamoto hasn’t been credited for
working on anything since Binary Domain, and producer Jun Yoshino now works for
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Toshihiro Nagoshi, credited as a producer
on most of the studio’s prior work, took over as Sega’s chief creative officer
shortly after the game shipped, and has worked sparingly on new projects since.

What Comes Next:

Sega recently
announced more restructuring plans
to move away from the console space,
where games like Binary Domain tend to perform better. The best thing that
could happen to the franchise would be its inclusion in a sale of assets as a
part of current or future changes. Sega clearly wasn’t sure of the game’s
strengths anyways, so it’s probably better off in the hands of someone else.

Abandoning the first game’s multiplayer and voice
recognition is the next step. The voice recognition was a cool idea, but Ryu ga
Gotoku Studios proved incapable of implementing it. I would gladly welcome it
back if it worked, but even the new Kinect struggles with voice commands on
Xbox One. Getting rid of the voice commands would allow the main character to
speak their responses to the rest of the team, and the dialogue options to
expand into something similar to what BioWare offers.

The multiplayer featured far less potential, however, and
there’s no real reason to keep it around. The last thing the shooter genre
needs are more of the uninspired deathmatch and survival modes that were tacked
onto Binary Domain. Shifting some of that manpower to the good portions of the
game, or to story-based co-op could really flesh out an already interesting

If a new game in the series got picked up, the team
developing it would have to decide where to take the story next without ruining
the excellent foundation of the first. Binary Domain didn’t end on a cliff-hanger,
but there’s room to keep going. A post-credit sequence shows main characters
Dan and Faye on the run, so there would be room to expand on the exploits of
the original Rust Crew following the events of the first game.

A better option might be to pick up a different Rust Crew
with new faces. It would avoid trampling what the previous game set up, but
would also be more difficult. If they got new characters right, though, there’s
plenty of room for a tale that runs parallel to the disappearance of the
original crew; or even one that has players hopping about the globe in search
of them.

I’m not kidding when I say I’d put Binary Domain in my top
10 list of last-generation games in a heartbeat. There’s so much potential left
in the world Ryu ga Gotoku Studios crafted, and it seems like a shame to leave
it to die. – The Feed

Rock Band survey hints at modern console sequel

Following the recent release of the series’ first new DLC in nearly two years, it appears that Harmonix might be gearing up for a new entry in its Rock Band series, if an online survey is anything to go by.

“Hello friends! You should fill out this i…
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District 9 Director Neill Blomkamp Shows Off Art From Abandoned Alien Sequel

Last night, the world learned that District 9 director Neill Blomkamp was involved in film project in the Alien universe. We didn’t hear this via press release or an exclusive story in a trade publication. No, Blomkamp shared these himself, which doesn’t bode well for the project.

“Was working on this,” he writes. “Don't think I am anymore. Love it though.” The message includes a link to an Instagram gallery featuring a number of images, including Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley and Michael Biehn’s Corporal Dwayne Hicks (with some nasty scars).

Not much information is available, of course, but it looks like Blomkamp’s take on the Alien-verse would have introduced some changes to the Xenomorph. One of the images shows a change in the Facehuggers and their eggs. 

There’s also a look at Ripley’s face as part of a Xenomorph. She’s been cloned before (see: Alien: Resurrection), and this might be another replica of the original, deceased Ellen Ripley (though the presence of Hicks suggests it would have been slotted after Aliens).

Unfortunately, we may never know what Blomkamp was planning for his take on the franchise. For now, we do have some exciting images that set our minds spinning about the possibilities. 

[Source: Neil Blomkamp on Twitter, Instagram] – The Feed