Ten for '10 - Things to Watch in the New Year: Games
Click here for Ten for '10 - MoviesClick here for Ten for '10 - TV Click here for Ten for '10 - Comic Events If there's one thing that isn't slowing down much (if at all) in the lowered economy, it's the video game industry. In fall 2009, records were set, as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sold more than $300 million worth on the very first day of sales.
2010 is looking to pick up where 2009 left off, with games that were pushed into Q1 2010, new technology, and assuredly some real surprises. Here, we'll take a look at 10 of the most anticipated releases in games this year, though this list could probably be closer to "Seventy for '10." Ah, well, maybe in 2070?
The Year of the MMO?
Star Trek Online, Star Wars: Knights of the Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, LEGO Universe, and maybe, just maybe, DCU Online are all expected in 2010. Of course, will any of these be able to take a real chunk out of the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft? Well, maybe a chunk. The name of the game is clearly "license, license, license." Using proven franchises and opening them up to a massive online world takes a lot less risk than trying to launch something new. Of course, that hasn't exactly worked out very well for folks like Conan, and well, Star Wars. Plus, in some cases, they may be fighting their own fans; both Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Final Fantasy fans have expressed a greater desire to play a new single player campaign, rather than having to share the spotlight with thousands of others. Regardless, it looks like each of these franchises are trying to take the MMO in some new directions, whether it's customized vehicles, incredible amounts of dialogue and story, or simply the cuteness and goofiness of little blocky characters, this may be the year that MMORPGs become commonplace.
Oh, and DCU Online fans? You're not out of hope. We've had more and more screenshots, and while the game hasn't hit Beta yet, Star Trek Online was only in Beta for a couple months prior to its release date. So keep those fingers crossed; you have plenty of other MMOs to try in the meantime.
This is one of several high-profile PlayStation 3 exclusives this year, following a year where games like Uncharted 2 and inFAMOUS showed that the system came to play. This isn't quite an MMO, though it is being called "Massive," as in "Massive Action Game." This is a shooter from Zipper Interactive that has 256 players fighting it out on insanely large battlefield. There's incredible character/rank progression, a huge selection of types of soldiers, weapons, vehicles, and oh yeah, 256 player battles! With matches that will take hours for total domination, this is a game that Sony hopes will get more people online than ever before, and hopefully take a chunk out of certain other-shooters-that-set-records-last-fall's share. If nothing else, it will prove that you can hear 128 12-year-olds curse at you and tell you the unspeakable things they'll do to your mother AT THE SAME TIME!
Batman: Arkham Asylum 2
After 2009's success with a game that finally allowed Batman fans to step into his cape and cowl, a sequel seemed inevitable. Well, it only took a few months for the game to be announced. It promises to have new locations, new villains, and likely a new gadget or two. Of course, one of the things that made Arkham Asylum great is that they weren't on a very restricted timeline, with the game not connected to a movie release, so hopefully they won't rush this one to market too much. With the solid base of the first game to build on, this has all the makings of another great.
God of War III
Another PlayStation 3 exclusive, this is the sequel to the action-adventure game that brought this genre to the map. With over-the-top action, violence, and story, Sony wants you to forget about games like Bayonetta and Dante's Inferno, instead focusing on Kratos's next and possibly final adventure. Fans have been tiding themselves over with the re-release God of War Collection and the demo for the new game, which shows it to be more of the same in all the best ways. If you want screen clearing weapons, screen filling (and then some) enemies, and insanely vicious attacks, there are plenty of options for you this year, but PS3 owners know there's only one true God of War.
Microsoft took a big gamble on the Xbox, jumping into a games market dominated by folks who had been in for awhile... and lost millions and millions of dollars. With the Xbox 360, they established themselves as the first of the "next gen" (now really the current gen) and have held a comfortable lead over the PS3 since launch (though the Wii massacres both) thanks largely to the strength of Xbox LIVE. This holiday season (release window confirmed at CES 2010), Microsoft is taking another gamble, and hoping that people don't just want motion control of games, but of menus, and videos, and music; oh, and without anything in their hands at all. This technology has almost existed in several forms, but demonstrations show remarkably tight controls, and a wide variety of uses. We'll likely get to see this hands-on at E3 this summer, and consumers will ultimately judge it for themselves this fall.
Final Fantasy XIII
There's not a lot that needs to be said here. It's a new Final Fantasy. It's coming out simultaneously here in the US for both PS3 and Xbox 360 (though it DOES appear some concessions may be made toward the 360 version, as it doesn't have that nice gigantic Blu-ray disc). It looks to be the prettiest Final Fantasy Epic yet, and should show gamers exactly what these current generation consoles can do. Reviews from Japan, which are traditionally pretty high for Final Fantasy titles, are again quite high, with perfect and near perfect scores being handed out like candy. The game will also launch a line of games, though when those are coming is anyone's guess at the moment. The best news? Gamers outside Japan don't have much longer to wait; it comes out in the US and Europe the second week of March.
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
To say this Real Time Strategy sequel is a longtime coming is a bit of an understatement. The original premiered in March of 1998; yes, that's the 1998 that is now 12 years ago. The sequel was first announced in 2007, and has missed a couple of development targets. Reportedly, it's been in development on and off since 2003. A public beta is still planned before release this year, so some fans will get to try before they buy, but fans of the original are all but assured to buy this sequel the second it hits shelves. In fact, most will likely have it pre-ordered. With more action, more units, similar controls, similar multiplayer gameplay, and of course better graphics, the game promises to be bigger and better than ever, and a surefire hit for Activision/Blizzard. Whenever it is that it drops, that is.
Transformers: War for Cybertron
The game tie-in for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen had a lot of potential. If it hadn't been tied to the game, and instead had some freedom, it may have even reached some of that potential. Enter War for Cybertron. It's a completely unique, outside-the-movies story, telling the origin of the Transformers. The initial trailer excited fans of the movies, the classic series, the comics; everyone seemed to think it could be the answer to their video game prayers. Not much more has been shown about the game just yet, but with a projected release of this summer, we should see more soon.
Ask any Halo fan what one part of the lore they desperately want to know more about, let alone play, and the answer will always be "The Fall of Reach." Well, this fall, Xbox 360 gamers will get that chance, controlling a Spartan III Super-soldier in this prequel to the Halo trilogy. A multiplayer beta is coming this spring for owners of ODST, and this game will be developer Bungie Studios' last in the Halo series. That's probably reason enough to play it right there.
The only Wii exclusive on this list, Epic Mickey has been at least lightly in people's minds for awhile now. A couple of images were "leaked" before the announcement hit late last year, and folks were instantly intrigued. It's definitely Mickey, but there are fantasy and steampunk elements, Mickey has a mystical paintbrush, and can shape both how he is portrayed, leaning toward nice or hardcore. What's more, it shapes the entire world, either re-enforcing or diminishing the happy, fluffy worlds Disney is traditionally known for. It looks like this game could both re-invent Mickey Mouse and provide a hardcore gamer experience on the Wii this year. Coupled with a new Metroid game, plus whatever Nintendo has up its sleeve to announce at E3 this year, the Wii could be more than simply the overall sales leader, and be a leader of innovation this year, too.