There have been a ton of threequels released in 2011, and there’s still plenty more coming, which begs the question: how have they been so far? Hit the jump and I’ll rate the current crop’s relative excellence, based on personal experience and the irrefutable rightness of my opinion.
(UPDATED: Props to Q for reminding me about MvC3.)
NOTE: This will not be a list of the seven best games of the year. It’s an assessment of which games function best as threequels. What does that mean? Three things: continuing what works, fixing what didn’t, and dodging ennui by adding something new. This is the criteria I will judge each one on.
7. Killzone 3.
Continuing What Worked: Definitely. The “Killzone” formula was really nailed in K2, and K3 doesn’t drop the ball.
Fixing What Didn’t: Not really. The monotonous A.I, floaty aim, and bland character of the story and universe remain.
Something New: Jetpacks. That’s about it.
6. Battlefield 3.
Continuing What Worked: Absolutely. The best parts of BF2 and the “Bad Company” series have been fused here into one definitive experience.
Fixing What Didn’t: Kind of. Balance is better in the multiplayer. However, the campaign has taken a step backward from BC2′s competence to pretty outright bad. Also, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I WANT A LOBBY.
Something New: A new engine is more than enough, but revamped leveling and more vehicles just keeps the joy coming.
5. Uncharted 3.
Continuing What Worked: Mostly. U3 is still gorgeous, sharply written, and it still packs those jaw-dropping campaign moments. But “Among Thieves” had a few more of them, and got going faster.
Fixing What Didn’t: Only half. Aiming is still floaty, climbing still grows tedious. Multiplayer has gone from good to great, though.
Something New: Literally nothing. Which is why it’s not higher.
4. FEAR 3.
Continuing What Worked: Yes and no. The slow-mo gunplay is intact, as is the atmosphere and tone. But this is the least frightening game in the series. That’s okay, they don’t necessarily need to be scary anymore, but it is what it is.
Fixing What Didn’t: Massively yes. Sameness of locations and stale multiplayer are gone and no one misses them.
Something New: Probably the biggest over-achiever in this category of anyone on this list. New engine, new playable character, new multiplayer modes, new everything. It’s why “FEAR 3″ is so far up this list.
3. Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Continuing What Worked: No question. Tag team combat, brilliant art direction and comic book style, deep fighting mechanics.
Fixing What Didn’t: Yes. The slightly simplified combat system is better, faster, stronger. The game doesn’t lose any depth, but it gains some accessibility.
Something New: Yeah, although not overwhelming. X Factor and Exchange button are good choices, but this is still the same experience.
2. Resistance 3.
Continuing What Worked: Pretty much. “Resistance” still has the best-designed weapons in the modern shooter market. I do miss 60-person deathmatch and 8-player co-op, but now that I’ve seen what it was traded for, I’ll live.
Fixing What Didn’t: Oh hell yes. This is nothing short of a third-day-resurrection for “Resistance.” Let me be frank: R3 has my favorite shooter campaign of the year (so far), and just maybe my favorite in any genre. We’ll see.
Something New: Harder to pin down, but still yes. A whole new level of polish and quality execution that brought the gameplay up several notches.
1. Gears of War 3.
Continuing What Worked: Of course. Horde mode is back with a vengeance, campaign and co-op remain solidly entertaining.
Fixing What Didn’t: Yup. No more glitchy, overreaching campaign or bug-infested multiplayer. It’s all good, they finally nailed the formula.
Something New: Oh yeah. Beast mode and revamped Horde. Victories all around.
As you can see, only one game really nailed all three categories, so I gave it the crown. Congratulations, Epic Games, you guys showed us yet again why you give Bungie flop sweat.
staying up with you, coffee and cigarettes