In Praise Of The New Game Plus

Last week, I played through Dead Space 2. This week, I'll see it through to the end one more time, perhaps having more fun, feeling less stressed, better appreciating its immense technical and visual artistry. Let's hear it for New Game Plus.

Visceral Games' Dead Space 2, like the original, is an experience designed to be played more than once, if only to enjoy all of its unlockable weapons, trophies and achievements. Playing again through a horrific adventure like the Dead Space games or the Resident Evil games - another series that often benefits from a second playthrough - is cathartic. You know where the scares wait in hiding. You are a more powerful being - except in the rare circumstance in which you fight zombies as a knife-wielding piece of tofu.

It is almost impossible to sample everything in a game like Dead Space 2, with its large arsenal and extended upgrade tree, the first time through. It's better motivation for me to hold onto my video games, rather than trade them in, than any multiplayer mode attached to a strong singe-player game.

Now, the New Game Plus - or NG+, but let's not call it NGP - that I'm referring to is of the type that upon completing a video game, you are presented with an all-new way to revisit the game. Same story, same adventure (for the most part), more powerful you. In the case of Dead Space games, you'll restart your adventure from the beginning with all the upgrades, ammo and know-how from the last playthrough. Other great games like Vagrant Story for the PlayStation, Diablo II for the PC and Demon's Souls for the PS3 offer similar opportunities.

But I've appreciated other types of New Game Plus variations. In the case of many Castlevania games, an opportunity to play through Dracula's castle as someone else, someone more powerful, to sprint through an adventure previously more challenging. One great Game Boy Advance game made New Game Plus playing a requirement.

And while I often prefer the New Game Plus that makes things easier on me, as Dead Space games do, I also enjoy the ones that make things more difficult.

From Software's Demon's Souls and Blizzard's Diablo II made me a lover of the challenging type of NG+, for their systems bring players back to the beginning of a brutal role-playing experience, well-equipped but still fragile in a harsher, harder world. Those re-run experiences offer a new sensation, feeling more powerful, more versatile, but still powerless at times.

I've played through Diablo II games until I reached Hell mode. I'm getting close to my New Game Plus Plus in Demon's Souls - and replayed as a wildly different character type. Rarely have few games gripped me as do the ones that feature modes like this. We should see more of it.

We should see more creativity in its implementation, as in the case of Astro Boy: Omega Factor.

Without New Game Plus, this portable action adventure from shoot 'em up masters Treasure would have been adequate, satisfying. In fact, back in 2004, when reaching the end of Astro Boy: Omega Factor for the first time and being unaware of its NG+ mode, I wondered what the big deal was. I wondered why I was left with an unappealing ending to a short game that seemed simple.

Then I started again, seeing the rest of Astro Boy: Omega Factor, learning the other half of its story, savoring its gameplay better the second time around. It joined games like Demon's Souls, Dead Space and Vagrant Story as personal hallmarks.

As far as Dead Space 2 is concerned, I've mentally planned to play it four times. Once to review it, once to savor it, once more to see how hard Zealot difficulty will be on a fully upgraded Isaac Clarke, once to see if I can get this spectacular weapon. Few games compel me to do such things.

So, let's give thanks for our favourite New Game Plus games. Let's introduce others to the delicious second servings of video games like Dead Space and Demon's Souls by sharing our own NG+ favourites. Please do so in the comments.


Comments

    Chrono Trigger had one of the best, in fact it was the only way to see some of the possible endings in the game.

    Why can't all RPGs have NG+?

      Chrono Trigger was the first one that came to my mind as well :P

    I've played Dead Space 1 through at least three times - two and a bit of them were to get all the upgrades, and once with the Plasma cutter only - and I had intended to go back and try Hardcore before DS2, just didn't get around to it.

    I'm only up to chapter 8 in DS2, but I'm already thinking about my second play through. Using the first to open all the power-node doors, then the second for upgrades. Then maybe Zealot... if I'm feeling up for the challenge.

    Also, if DS2 is like DS1, upgrades don't carry over difficulties. So, you can fully upgrade on Medium, but only play with those weapons in another playthrough on medium. To play Zealot with your upgraded Issac, you'll need to complete Zealot first.

      That isn't the case with Dead Space 2. I finished the game on Survivalist difficulty, then started a "New game +" on Zealot difficulty and had my upgraded weapons carry over just fine.
      I now have a fully upgraded plasma cutter, line gun and javelin gun. Party!

    Often I find the NG+ just a bore but I have to admit playing the original DS on NG+ made everything much easier to bear. The frights and fights that shcoked me most during the first run through became a challenge, less of my nerves and more of my skill.

    Grabbed DS2 on the weeknd and will definitely go through more than once. Currently dreading the first run through as I know it's going to be a harrowing experience.

    Bah new game plus was better in the old days! Load up the gold box D&D games, export the characters right at the end of the game and restart with a way more powerful party.

    Nothing like playing dark queen of krynn all the way through just to level up your mages once

    Ah Diablo II, I spent so much time on that game.
    I got my necro up to the 3rd act of hell difficulty before giving up.
    I hated Kurast the first two times and the third was just too much.

    I approve of any mention of Vagrant Story. Good work sir.

    Best ng+ isn't truly a ng+ but what resident evil 2 did with the expanded story of the 2nd playthrough with the next character you played.

    Also, does ghosts n goblins count as a ng+?

    Does 999 count as NG+ :P

    It has to offer some added reason for me. I liked MGS where my second play through was without killing or alerting any one.
    Actually in light of a previous story today I should say "it was meant to be" without kills or alerts but somehow I killed some one on the 3rd or 4th act and meant to go back to it...

    I love games with the new game plus feature - it definitely adds a different level of enjoyment and fun to a game as well as extending the life of a game, especially one as rich as Dead Space.

    I remember the NG+ on Final Fantasy X-2 and I think I'm in the minority when I say that I actually liked that game. I liked that the game progression meter carried over from my last save file because that just meant that I didn't have to do particular side quests again and would instead have to do other uncompleted ones to get that 100% completion (although I never did). :P

    All these mentions of NG+ and no mention of Nier?
    That game gave you four different stories for playing through it again! Four!
    Mind you, it's not exactly a conventional NG+.

    I'm a bit on the fence about NG+. While it has been implemented in some interesting ways (Diablo II's 3 tiered difficulty system was a fantastic implementation), 99% of the time it just feels like some cheap way for the developers to squeeze more 'play time' out of their game.

    IMO, ditch NG+, add more actual gameplay

    I like how NG+ is implemented in Dead Rising 1 and 2. It sure helped me make that game easier. The difference with that and the Dead Space games is you dont have to actually finish the game once to start a new one with your upgraded character.

    But I am yet to finish my first run of Dead Space 2. I've just maxxed out the plasma cutter, but cant wait to start playing and upgrading the other weapons.

    The Ratchet and Clank series had a really good NG+. From the very first enemy in this mode it becomes apparent that the big weapon you used to kill the end boss isn't going to cut it anymore. They introduce new variants on weapons to give them a whole new series of upgrades and make everything much tougher.

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