Video Games: The Neverending Story

By  |  Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 2:43 pm

One of the more interesting-looking video games of this holiday season, the futuristic parkour drama Mirror’s Edge, will eventually become a trilogy, according to a report at Fragland.

While this is welcome news to anyone who will happily invest 20 hours or more into playing one video game, this is terrible for the rest of us–and yes, it’s a trend.

Earlier this week, Blizzard announced that the highly-anticipated Starcraft II will be split into three parts. Gears of War 2, which will hit stores next month, is the second of three or maybe more games. And remember how Halo 2 ended in a cliffhanger? Obviously that was to set up last year’s somewhat repetitive conclusion.

Sequelitis is nothing new for video games, but game developers weren’t so ambitious in the old days. Super Mario Bros. was its own self-contained entity. The fans craved more, and Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 were born. But how would you feel if, at the end of the first game, you were told that the Princess was still in another castle?

That’s what is happening today. When game developers commit to three games up front, they open the door for dangling plot lines or flawed gameplay. Casual players who can’t spend 60 hours on one particular kind of game will end up missing the complete experience.

There’s a drawback for hardcore gamers as well: we don’t know if MIrror’s Edge will actually be worth two more games until we get our hands on it, and a decent–but not great–game is better off standing alone. The slash-em-up game Too Human, released in August, was a planned trilogy, but with an average Metacritic score of 66, publishers might not want to pay for another serving, let alone two.

Fortunately, there seems to be some backlash. MTV reporter Tracey John polled some Starcraft fans about the trilogy news and got a mixed, but mostly negative response. One gamer, John from Salt Lake City, called the move “a little lame.” Others will speak with their wallets.

“I’ll buy the first one,” Bill from Seattle said, “and then I’m probably not going to buy the other two.”

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