Videogames 2004: the year of sequels

Seth Roy

Def Jam rapper Ludacris (left) takes on one of many villains in Def Jam: Fight For New York.

Credit: Beth Rankin

The year 2004 was a very good year for video games of all kinds. There are some games that will be remembered for a long time, and some that will be forgotten about (for good reason). Here is a small guide to some of the best of last year.

The Sequels

If nothing else, 2004, was a year for sequels. Movie and gaming companies alike came out with a plethora of them this year. Some of them coincided with each other.

Spider-Man 2 was hands down the best movie-based game of the year — and maybe ever.

Gamers took control of Peter Parker and, just like the first game, fought to save the city from evil. While the storyline follows the movie pretty well, there are plenty of other side missions to keep the gamer occupied.

As Spidey, you have free-roam ability through New York City; this works much like the Grand Theft Auto games, as you can choose to progress in the story or just run around and beat people up or play side missions.

Three already stellar games took another step forward with their third


Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has revived the series after a less-than-stellar sequel. Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, the third installment of the series, followed the advice of its title and beefed up the game play. Jak 3, the final chapter of the Jak & Daxter series, went out with a bang with a compelling story and a large land mass to explore.

Alas, none of these four games can match up to the two best sequels, the two best games, of the year.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas keeps with the same basic formula of the previous games, but added just enough to make it a step up from Vice City and GTA3.

For one, the story was beefed up, and is one of the longest, deepest games available. In addition to completing the missions, gamers must take their protagonist, CJ, and work on his skills. CJ has to eat and exercise to remain healthy. Also, as the game progresses, he will gain more skill and experience in driving cars, riding bikes and shooting.

Finally, the best addition to the GTA series: the ability to swim. That’s right; no more floundering and drowning.

Now, the surprise game of the year: Def Jam: Fight for New York. This is the second game in the Def Jam series, and it is a vast improvement over an already good game. Fight for NY is a brutal fighting and wrestling game that lets gamers take control of various rappers under the Def Jam label. Ever wanted to set Fat Joe on fire? Throw Omar Epps out of a window? Fight for NY allows for that possibility. Not only is the fighting top-notch, but the story, which will occupy most for around six hours, is also very well-written and entertaining.


What a year for the sports genre! And the theme: competition.

EA Sports finally got a little bit of competition for the top sports games in 2004.

Sega Sports, with an ESPN license, released some of the best, most realistic sports games to date. And, the kicker, sold them for just $19.99, while EA Sports’ new releases typically run for $49.99.

ESPN NFL 2K5 was the biggest threat in years to EA’s famed Madden series. 2K5 features top-notch presentation and game play. The game uses the ESPN license perfectly, incorporating the distinct personalities and style of the network. The franchise mode may not be quite as deep as Madden NFL 2005, but the game play more than makes up for that.

Over the past year, EA Sports released two NFL Street football games. Both games are fun and fast-paced. Easily, NFL Street 2, which came out the day after Christmas, is the novelty sports game of the year.

Another innovation by EA Sports this year took place in its NCAA March Madness basketball series. “Floor general” play-calling adds a lot to the game play and overall understanding of the game of basketball. Yes, you can play as the Flashes, and with “floor general,” you can call plays on the fly. There are also plenty of opportunities for high-flying dunks, although some players are mysteriously missing from the game. Players like “#23” (NCAA games aren’t allowed to use actual names of players) and “#5” are there, but others, like “#42” and “#13” are absent. This can be fixed, however, in the roster area.

Anyway, where were we?

Oh, yes. EA Sports was actually challenged this year by another quality gaming company in Sega Sports. So, how did EA counter? By becoming the evil empire.

EA Sports bought the official NFL and players’ association license in December, effectively ending the NFL 2K series until 2010, at least. EA also bought the AFL license. And, just this month, they purchased the ESPN license for the next 15 years. So, after Sega Sports’ deal with ESPN runs out, EA will be able to use the network in its games. More on this situation in the future.

Other Comments

Undoubtedly, I have neglected to mention many other games and stories from many other systems. I am, almost exclusively, a PlayStation 2 gamer, so if I have passed over your favorite games and systems, feel free to send me your comments, and I will publish some of the comments.

Also, are there any games you are looking forward to this year?

Contact pop arts writer Seth Roy at [email protected].