DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are out this week, both being anticipated sequels years in the making. Only time will tell if they live up to expectations, but hopefully they can channel these iconic sequels that shook franchises up for the better.
And the iconic duo have both cameoed in Injustice. Who's next?
Sam | Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III best represents the colossal jump from 2D to 3D gaming, in my opinion. A lot of people point toward Super Mario 64 as the standard bearer, but Rockstar’s effort was way more impressive.
The PS2 classic inspired numerous game design philosophies that are still prevalent today, proving just how influential it was. While the graphics and gunplay no longer impress, its narrative, writing and voice overs still hold up better than most of today’s homogenised videogame storytelling.
Back in 2001 a vast majority of games were level-based and linear, so the liberating sandbox design of GTA III was a genuine revolution. Deviating from the main path wasn’t only possible, but it was actively encouraged. Misbehaving didn’t result in instant failure, but would rather invite police intervention. You could enter and exit vehicles at will, instead of scripted sections dictating how you’d travel.
It did a lot of things I’d dreamt about but assumed weren’t possible in games when they never materialised over time. They probably hadn’t been possible before the introduction of the PlayStation 2, when my older brother’s copy of Grand Theft Auto III rocked my seven-year-old world.
Rockstar set the bar for open world games.
Liam | The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
While The Wind Waker’s core gameplay didn’t stray too far from the series tried and tested formula - namely, beating a series of themed dungeons and their bosses, solving puzzles, unlocking new weapons and abilities etc. - visually, the game was a huge departure from its predecessors.
I remember Toon Link and the accompanying cartoony visuals getting quite a bit of stick when they were first revealed, and while it was admittedly a bit weird seeing the Hero of Time portrayed in such a way after the cool, adult Link seen in Ocarina of Time, I quickly got used to, then fell in love with, the art style.
Gone were the blurry browns and dark greens of old Hyrule, and in their place a crisp, wonderful, literal sea of colour that uplifted the whole experience. Yes, there was the usual peril for players to deal with, but somehow it all felt new and vibrant when seen through a cel-shaded lens.
Other Zelda games have dabbled in similar visual styles since, but none have made quite the same dramatic impact (at least for me) as The Wind Waker did back in 2003.
Hyrule looks great at this time of year.
James | Max Payne 3
While the genre-defining bullet time – a gameplay effect which made time go all Matrix-y – was present in the very first outing for Max, it’s hard to argue that the series didn’t reach the height of its potential with Max Payne 3.
Rockstar Games took over production from creators Remedy (who went on to make the similarly time-bending Quantum Break and Control), and brought a more compelling narrative and grizzled characterisation for Max.
On top of that the controls were familiar enough for those who had dabbled in the earlier iterations but far more familiar to those who had played other Rockstar outings like Grand Theft Auto.
The icing on the cake though was the multiplayer component, which brought the game to life like never before and consistently provided memorable and stunning experiences – though it might have had less players than Rockstar would have liked.
Its use of bullet time in multiplayer in particular is something which few games had done before, and was pulled off with both technical precision and in a way which enhanced the gameplay without it feeling like a cheap gimmick.
Plus Payne Killer is such a great name for a mode.
No-one does bullet time quite like Max.
Let us know which sequels you think changed everything.