February 28, 2010 12:00 PM | Simon Carless
[Sequels often get penalized if they don't change enough, but Gamasutra news director Leigh Alexander examines BioShock 2 to find an interesting challenge -- and opportunity -- in keeping some things the same.]
The main reservation critics and fans seem to have about the largely-acclaimed BioShock 2 is that it doesn't bring much new to the table, a conservative sequel to a game that didn't really need a sequel.
Wired's Chris Kohler said the game was "stamping on well-trod ground," and Game Informer's Andrew Reiner said the dystopia of Rapture had developed "the familiarity of a local shopping mall." The innovation of Rapture as a setting was part of what made the original BioShock so exciting, and now that players are used to it, the game loses something, some say.
Another recent release, No More Heroes 2, was also said to have been unnecessary -- director Suda51 himself has said he hadn't planned on tacking a sequel on to the story of Travis Touchdown.
Why do games that "don't need sequels" get them? The answer's obvious: the game industry's more hit-driven than ever, and it's no longer enough to make a successful game -- publishers need successful franchises. This leaves two options: conceive every game as open-ended, always setting up for a sequel, or attach sequels to games that "don't need them."