The Loop (TV)
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- Sam and Max Freelance Police: Season Two is widely considered to be much, much better than Season One, due to having harder puzzles, more variation in locations, more unique episodes, a much more coherent story arc involving most of the supporting cast and killing off the Soda Poppers.
- Also, it had FLINT PAPER!!!
- Season One also grew the beard with Abraham Lincoln Must Die. It's no coincidence that this is the episode that's given out for free (for good reasons).
- There is widespread agreement among Silent Hill fans that the beard for the series was grown during Silent Hill 2. Given that the first game tends to be listed as a favorite even after eight games, this is a testament to how revered the second game is within the fandom.
- The series has long suffered from Broken Base Syndrome, with later games being generally less well-regarded. There are some dedicated purists who refuse to ever acknowledge any game after the fourth, but among the more open-minded fans, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has achieved a cult following and some think of it as when the series grew its second beard. That latest game has been quite better received critically and among fans than several games previous speaks of some truth to the idea.
- Resident Evil 4 was far, far less of a joke than the previous few games of the series due to the massive changes in controls, camera, setting, everything, and wound up winning Game of the Year at quite a few websites and magazines. The gameplay and puzzles were more acclaimed than in the Play Station titles (which themselves weren't too bad)
- Even before that was Resident Evil 2, which, rather than having a B-Movie story like the first game, ended up having one of the most engaging plots in the series. Later, the first game was remade in 2002, doing a few Retcons and trying to connect it to the later installments.
- Not really many people ever played the first two Grand Theft Auto games, but once the change to 3D went full in Grand Theft Auto III, it was an immense hit, and essentially one of the first well-done open-world sandbox games.
- Not many people? The first game at least was quite popular, if only for the at-the-time unique gameplay and controversy. Most players were thinking "This would be even better in 3D."
- The Sega Superstars games only started to pick up praise from the critics with the third installment, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
- The first Guild Wars campaign, Prophecies, is generally considered to have long, monotonous levels compared to the other games. It also had very little max-level content and was almost completely serious, when reaching max level early on in the game and having a slightly dry sense of humor would later become part of the games signature style.
- City of Heroes. Initially a passable MMO whose main strength was the amazing costume editor, the addition of a mission creation tool to allow players to create their own instances for other players to enjoy took the game to the next level.
- The mission creator is recent, but many players will also attest that the game has steadily and massively improved since launch due to major rebalancing that actually worked (despite copping some rage at the time), addition of many costume parts, improved writing, and a general dev focus on player-friendliness. While it's hard to place a particular turning point, the release of City of Villains could be considered a major game changer.
- There are a number of changes which qualify, but the most marked turning point is probably the sale of the franchise from Cryptic to NCSoft, the creation of Paragon Studios, and the departure of much-loathed original lead developer Statesman. Several changes prior to this change were pretty good (particularly the City of Villains expansion and the addition of an an economy in Issue 9), but most of the real solid improvements came afterward (including weapon customization and the ability to play arcs you've outleveled through time travel in I11, I14's aforementioned Architect system, power customization in I16, and the recent Going Rogue expansion).
- Heroes of Might and Magic V started out as a 3D-remake of the third game with awkward translation and mostly lazy cutscenes (using the existing animations of heroes and units instead of moving the mouth). It grew its beard over the course of the two expansions, particularly the second.
- Neverwinter Nights started out with a rather boring story, full of Plot Holes, with about 2 three-dimensional characters in the entire game. It started growing its beard with the expansions, but the real potential of the engine didn't really emerge until the greatest works of toolset manipulation (A Dance With Rogues, Sanctum of the Archmage, The Bastard of Kosigan, the Shadowlords series, and more) started to show up.
- Star Control was a relatively popular turn-based strategy game including a spaceship melee mode a la Space War. The sequel, Star Control 2 increased the scope of the original with a story-driven adventure mode and various other elements. Star Control 2 went on to become widely considered one of the best video games of all time. Alas, there was no Star Control 3.
- The first two Metal Gear games are cult classic stealth games that have a fairly standard action movie plot. 10 years later, the sequel, Metal Gear Solid turned the concept on its head and added more Mind Screw. It became one the most recognised games of all time.
- Whilst there may never be a consensus as to what point this happened in the series, Final Fantasy is usually credited with this. Some commonly invoked examples are: FFIV, when a Final Fantasy with set characters first arrived in the US, as well as being the first on the SNES; FFV, which was the first time the series looked at itself from a retrospective point; FFVI which is often seen as the culmination of all the lessons learned in FF's I-V; FFVII which had the greatest duality of Sci-Fi vs. Fantasy in the series; or sometimes even FFT, which was among the first FF's to use very complex and conflicted characters who developed over the course of the game. Remember, of course, that the fanbase will never agree over this.
- Of late, it seems that the Sonic the Hedgehog series had fallen on hard times, trying to go the Darker and Edgier route with Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (2006) to few positive results. Even Sega realized their misstep. So, they went back to what made the series so great in the first place. With the advent of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and Sonic Colors (especially the latter), things are looking up.
- In addition, one could argue that the second game in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, is where the series grew it's beard and, according to most reviewers, hit its peak.
- With the addition of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 episode 2, it seems very clear that Sonic is being split into two separate paths - between the games of the creators of Sonic Generations and Sonic the Hedgehog 4. While the jury is still somewhat out on Episode 2, it looks like the Generations crew is re-growing the beard more sufficiently.
- In a hardware example, the PlayStation 3 started out as a laughing stock with a ridiculous price point, very few quality exclusive titles for well over a year after launch, and a fair amount of meme-generating idiocy by Sony's PR department. By holiday 2009, they had launch a new slimmer model, dropped the price in half, and started a new campaign of genuinely funny advertisements featuring Sony's fake Vice President of Whatever-The-Hell-He-Wants-To-Be-VP-Of Kevin Butler. The fact that the PlayStation 3 had finally developed a very respectable game lineup didn't hurt either.
- The Elder Scrolls series' first two installments were quite competent and well received, but the series didn't make a true commercial blockbuster until TESIII: Morrowind came around. And the fourth installment, Oblivion, raised the bar even higher. (But because of the dramatic game engine revamping and lore modifications, some fans have wildly different opinions...)
- As of Skyrim though, the series seems to have grown back the beard a bit. it has been more universally better received on release by fans and critics.
- The Legend of Zelda series grew a beard around The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past; not that the previous two games were bad, but the number of Guide Dang Its decreased. And it got a much more manageable difficulty.
- Dungeons and Dragons Online This game grew a beard in September 2009 when the game went to a Free to Play model and Turbine sued Atari (the digital rights manager of D&D). All the updates since Update 9 have featured much better quest designs.
- The first two Duke Nukem games were fairly unremarkable 2D side-scrollers. With Duke Nukem 3D the genre changed to first person shooter complete with innovate weapons, impressive (for the time) level design, and a raunchy sense of humor. As a result Duke Nukem has become one of the most famous video game heroes of all time.
- Duke Nukem 3D itself grew a beard about halfway through its development, as it was originally intended as just a 3D continuation of the original platformers with none of the humor and personality that the final version would be famous for. This version, retroactively dubbed LameDuke, was mercifully put to rest and eventually retooled into the game we know and love today.
- Assassin's Creed II was much more strongly received than the original game as an almost-entirely across-the-board improvement on the original in game terms, plus introducing a beloved protagonist in Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
- Ezio later grew a goatee of his own in his late 20s after being wounded and waking up from unconsciousness; when he helped put an end to Savanarola's reign in Florence almost a decade later, it also served to reflect his newfound maturity as expressed in his speech to the Florentines, and by Revelations it had grown into a full-fledged beard.
- Pokémon Red and Blue were two excellent JRPGs for the Game Boy, but they suffered from several problems, including poor balance and a multitude of Game Breaking Bugs.Yellow tightened it up a bit and fixed the worst of the bugs, and the beard fully grew with Pokémon Gold and Silver and grew even thicker with those games' Updated Rerelease, Crystal.
- Persona3 was this for the Persona series. While the others were certainly good games, this was the installment that made the series famous. It was the first to come to the US without having been butchered by borderline racist translators and also introduced the social link system.
- While the gameplay of Gears of War had always been good from the start, the plot of the campaign didn't really start to develop beyond a blatant Excuse Plot until Gears of War 2.
- The first game of the Ace Attorney started good, but the second case was where the beard began to grow. The death of a major character, great villain, and the introduction of series favorite Miles Edgeworth.
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