Sometimes an idea is too big to be contained within a single game and ends up needing to span multiple titles in order to tell the whole story or to allow new ideas to work within older conventions. If it happens to take three games to properly do this then a trilogy is born and we’re lucky to have gotten so many great games over the years that we could have easily put together a Top 20 or Top 30. But 10 it is and so this week we are counting down the best triple threats that gaming has to offer.
And so we’re clear, while some of these series have gotten multiple entries since, as long as three consecutive titles are held together by a common narrative, gameplay or art direction we’re counting it as a trilogy.
10 – Batman: Arkham
Kicking off this list is a trio of games that not only made Batman a force in the video game business again but completely reinvented the action/brawler genre. Batman: Arkham Asylum, City and Knight infused heavy action/adventure tropes into the genre as well as excellently executed stealth gameplay to give the caped crusader a more visceral and even realistic feel than other super hero games of its time. Rocksteady did an amazing job with these games and hopefully there’s more good times in the future.
9 – Gears of War
Marcus Fenix and Co. set the bar pretty high with their original Xbox 360 outing but somehow they kept raising it higher and higher with both sequels. The Gears of War series helped revolutionize third person shooters and made cover-based mechanics a standard part of the formula going forward, a formula many have copied but none have gotten quite as right as the Gears team. Oh and I guess slicing through enemies with rifle mounted chainsaws is worth of few points too.
8 – Mega Man X
Mega Man may have cut his robotic teeth on the NES but it was his cooler, edgier Super Nintendo successor that really took the series to the next level. Mega Man X, X2 and X3 are not only great games because of their sublime gameplay but took the Super NES to a whole new level in the presentation department, with advanced (for the early 90’s) graphical effects and a soundtrack that would keep you headbanging through all of Sigma’s Mavericks.
7 – Resident Evil
The Raccoon City trilogy for the original PlayStation (and other systems) stands as one of the best survival horror experiences ever crafted. From the haunting hallways of the mansion in Resident Evil, to Resident Evil 2‘s desolate city streets and finally Resident Evil 3: Nemesis‘ heart pounding intensity as you try to evade the titular threat always close behind. These three games cemented the franchise as the gold standard for survival horror, and while many praise part 4 for taking it to a whole other level, its hard to argue with the legacy of our nightmare in Raccoon City.
6 – Metroid Prime
An unproven developer and a long dormant franchise. These were the ingredients thrown together to help revive the Metroid series and somehow it all came together wonderfully to create a trio of games that hold a very special in fans hearts. With the original Metroid Prime laying down the groundwork both Echoes and Corruption took those concepts and added their own unique twists on the series, leaving us with a trilogy, that while a cohesive whole feels very different depending on which game you are playing.
5 – Sonic the Hedgehog
I’ve written a lot about the Blue Blur in recent weeks and if you’ve been following my thoughts on the series you’ll know that I love the original trio of games on the Sega Genesis. Why? Well they were faster, harder, cooler and had more attitude than anything I had played up to that point and (most importantly) were an absolute blast to play. Quick story – growing up we had both an NES and a Super NES in the house as well as a decent amount of games to keep busy with. But almost every weekend I would ask to go over to a friend’s house to play with their Sega Genesis and copies of Sonic the Hedgehog titles because I just couldn’t get enough of these out of this world games.
4 – Uncharted
The Uncharted series has become Sony’s equivalent of a major Hollywood motion picture series, with each game upping the ante in both quality and storytelling and in fact the game’s have become world-famous because of their blockbuster style of telling their stories. Apart from that though Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception stand as reasons why Sony was able to generate a lot of the hype and excitement for the PlayStation 3 system.
3 – God of War
From one major Sony franchise to another (I guess they know how to make a good trilogy) the God of War series means just as much to them as Uncharted but for a very different reason. Krato’s quest to avenge his family is laced with blood, death and gore, to a degree that many players had yet to see in a major first party release. This helped give the PS2 an important edge on the competition, something which Sony certainly hopes to repeat with the 2018 reboot of the series.
2 – Donkey Kong Country
The original Donkey Kong Country is often cited as the game that gave the Super Nintendo its second wind and allowed to come out on top in its console generation but aside from that it was also a fantastic game in its own right that spawned two great sequels. In fact Donkey Kong Country 2 remains as one of the best 2D platformers ever made more than 20 years after its release. So ya, you could say this was a pretty fine trilogy.
1 – Mass Effect
BioWare took a lot of inspiration from one of the greatest trilogies of all time when they developed the Mass Effect trilogy. And just like George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy all three games in this space opera tell a grand story that stands among the best in all of sci-fi. With plenty of imaginative worlds to explore, characters to meet and stories to have this felt in a lot of ways like carving your own path throughout the galaxy and stands as the best trilogy gaming has ever seen.
Whats your favorite video game trilogy? Let us know in the comment section below!