Written by Brock Poulsen, brockst4r Friday, 12 August 2011 11:00
It is not at all uncommon in my gaming life for me to completely disregard the first entry (or entries) in a series in favor of the often better-reviewed sequels. It doesn't work in every situation, and I don't do it with every game series, but it definitely works fairly often for my gaming-on-a-budget situation. Behold, the benefits of skipping to the sequel!
I played Lost Planet 2 but never played the original Lost Planet, and enjoyed the game and what story there was immensely. I never played Mass Effect, but I'll be playing the crap out of Mass Effect 2. I dove right into Resistance 2 in preparation for a Goozex game night and only ever played the Resistance 1 demo. I'm not ashamed of my tendency to skip to sequels.
This is a habit that drives my younger brother absolutely crazy. He is also a gamer, and it bugs the crap out of him when I forgoe a game in favor of its successor. Most recently we had a dispute over Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. I let him know I got a sweet deal on a used copy from eBay, and was looking forward to trying it out. "I have the first two," he replied. "You can borrow them if you want." Well, I knew that. And he knew that I knew that. And I played (but didn't finish) the first one. I was just more interested in diving into the most recent one, and thanks to the good old Information Superhighway I was already well versed on the main story points and spoilers.
Another experience that drove my brother to madness was with Army of Two: The 40th Day. I wanted him to come over and play some split-screen with me, and his concern was immediately apparent.
"Did you play the first one? You can get it for cheap."
I knew it's available for cheap, but I also knew it wasn't received as well as 40th Day. My brother was also quite concerned that, not having experienced the first game, I would be utterly lost concerning the complicated Army of Two fictional universe. I, frankly, was mildly surprised that there was any story to speak of. I assumed it was mostly explosions and fist bumps, but I assured my brother that I would read up on the story on Wikipedia.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I was able to fully enjoy my Army of Two experience without the story foundation to be found in the first game. It's still a good shooter and an awesome co-op experience, despite the scowls from my brother when I first mentioned it.
I don't think I would have been as gung-ho about jumping into Brotherhood if I didn't have a good amount of experience with the first Assassin's Creed. There is a lot of stuff below the surface and especially involving the Animus interface that wouldn't really make sense if you were to be thrown right into Brotherhood. But with many games you can jump around as much as you please and still get a great game experience. Sports games are an obvious example, or anything without a story. Skate 1 could be skipped in favor of 2 and 3, and there is even DLC for Skate 2 that adds the best areas from Skate 1.
On the other hand, there are series where I think there's a better experience to be had by playing each game. Uncharted definitely falls into this category, simply because both games are very good and the characters are worth your time and attention. The two inFAMOUS games form sort of a cohesive story together, and can best be enjoyed as a pair. Jumping right into BioShock 2 without first playing BioShock would likely be a bit of system shock (pun intended!). But, in reality, games are typically made with new players in mind, as developers don't want to alienate those new to their series. Those with the need for backstory can easily find it online, and be up to their virtual ears in spoilers within a few clicks.
The bottom line here is that gaming isn't about checklists and "completionism," unless that's what you want it to be about. The less like college my gaming experience is, the better. I don't want preerquisites or required reading, unless I want to experience it.