Sequels

The last several months have been brutal, as Hal and I have been working seven days a week to get the first five WFRP products done and at print. Although Nik and I received Knights of the Old Republic II as an Xmas gift from Ray, I hadn’t touched the game at all. I knew I’d get sucked in and I just didn’t have time for that. I put the final few touches on the Old World Bestiary today though and I decided I could downgrade my schedule from “on fire” to merely “hectic”. I finally popped in KOTORII (Nik finished it nearly two months ago) and started playing. And so far, it’s pretty fun.

It did get me thinking about sequels though. In nearly any medium, the sequel is a hard thing to pull off. You need to identify the elements that made part one good and replicate them in essence but not fact. By which I mean the sequel should have a similar feel but not ape the original in every detail. This is a tricky business. One need look no further than the original Star Wars Trilogy to see why. How do you beat blowing up the Death Star? Why by making an even bigger Death Star and blowing that up in part 3? Not the most ingenious of solutions.

KOTORII is doing a good job for the most part. The game play is similar, but the designers clearly listened to feedback and made many improvements to the basic interface. No complaints there. I didn’t feel it was strictly necessary to give the main character the same sort of journey of self-discovery that featured in the first game. In KOTOR, your character had a big dark secret and the reveal was indeed quite cool. I don’t really feel KOTORII needed to ape this aspect in order to be a good sequel though. Now the main character is once again a mysterious stranger with a cryptic past and more questions than answers. I really would have been happy with something else, as long as it was cool and fit the flavor of the universe. My feeling (and maybe I’m wrong) is that they are going to try for an even cooler reveal and then fail to deliver. And when sequels make you realize that the original was superior by forcing you to draw a comparison, that’s when they fail.

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