9 to Watch in 2009: Games

9 to Watch in 2009: Games

Chris Arrant has had a great series of articles running all week, giving an idea to fans of comic characters, comic creators, comic series/books, movies and television shows to look out for in 2009. Having already planned my own “looking forward” piece on games (and folks, it’s going to be another big one) for 2009, we decided to piggyback on his articles and use the same format. First, if you missed any of them, here are all of Chris’s articles covering the first five categories:

9 To Watch in 2009: Comic Book Characters

9 To Watch in 2009: Comic Creators

9 To Watch in 2009: Comic Books

9 To Watch in 2009: Television

9 To Watch in 2009: Movies

And now, bring on the games! Newsarama Note: All Release Dates listed are planned US dates and of course subject to change

Killzone 2 Screenshot

Killzone 2 (February 27; PS3)

The next major PS3 exclusive is a big one. In a now infamous showing at E3 2005, Sony showed a trailer of the First Person Shooter that showed off the most beautiful graphics conceived; unfortunately, it was then revealed to be a pre-rendered tech demo, not actually being rendered by the PS3. Well, gameplay trailers and now playable demos have been revealed, and it looks almost as good. The story might not be revolutionary (sci-fi shooter! Space marines! Woo!), but it looks damn pretty, and plays quickly and smoothly, even in Beta. This will likely have Xbox360 gamers feeling jealous.

Resident Evil 5 (March 13; PS3, 360)

Building on the rousing success that was the much-ported Resident Evil 4, it looks like this next edition will feature the same faster-paced gameplay, with an over-the-shoulder view. Co-op gameplay will be a heavy focus this time around, and the story is clearly tied in to all of the previous games, including an explanation for the multiple types of zombies in previous entries and a MAJOR character death in the lead-up to the story. Survival Horror fans weren’t exactly starving for quality games in 2008 with SIREN and Dead Space, and RE5 looks like the streak should survive.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion (Q1; PS3, 360, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP)

The first MUA took several of Marvel’s biggest heroes (and a few odd choices), threw them together, and provided hours of beat-em-up, dungeon-crawling, level-building action. The game isn’t perfect, but damn is it fun. The sequel has a bigger focus on Co-op gameplay (sensing a theme here…), with powers fusing together for massive attacks. The majors can be expected, and in the next couple of months we should be getting a better idea of who exactly we’ll be controlling sometime this spring. Even with all the stellar games that came out in 2008, MUA still makes its way into my regular rotation; this will likely stick with the formula established by its big brothers, and that will make it a great one.

DC Universe Online (2009; PS3, PC)

Accessing the Speed Force in DCU Online

There’s not a ton of new news about this one yet, but the PS3 console exclusive MMO has some heavy hitters behind it. Sony Online Entertainment admittedly has some huge hits and huge misses in the MMO arena, but they’re not just playing this one lightly. Comic heavyweights Jim Lee and Geoff Johns are both heavily involved in the game that will allow players to create their own hero or villain and fight alongside the established DCU characters. The game promises to use modern version of characters, allow for a Secret Origin for every created character, and take place in a present day DCU that looks very familiar to the one appearing in the books. There are other superhero-themed MMOs out there, but this looks to eclipse them all. Plus, the planned Marvel MMO was cancelled last year, so fans wanting a licensed comic MMO experience will only have here to turn.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game (June 16; PS3, 360, Wii, PS2, DS, PC)

The game had a bit of a hiccup with Activision and Vivendi Blizzard merged in 2008, but not-really-the-company-you-think-of Atari picked up the slack and is readying the game for release in June. The game takes place soon after the second movie, features the voices and likenesses of all the major stars and was written by the same, and according to Dan Aykroyd, has enough script to have filled three full movies. Proton Packs, Slimer, and Ray Parker Jr. are about to be cool again, both for fans of the original and for a whole new generation. Who ya gonna call? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Halo Wars

Halo Wars / Halo 3: ODST (March 3; 360, PC / Q4; 360)

Cheater! Yeah, yeah, this is two games, not one, blah blah blah. Okay, with that out of the way, this year, Microsoft is testing just how strong the Halo brand really is. In Halo Wars, gamers will fight in an Age of Empires style RTS, controlling huge groups of characters from the Halo universe. It will be developer Ensemble Studios’ final game, as Microsoft is shutting down the studio upon completion.

Halo 3: ODST (formerly known as Recon) takes place just prior to Halo 3 and has the player take control of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper instead of Master Chief. The game/expansion pack looks to be a trial to see what direction they can take the series, with open-world, stealth, and squad-based gameplay all promised for the 5-6 hour game. It won’t be $60, is in continuity, and will reward gamers with the fabled Recon armor upon completion. Previously, the special armor could only be gifted to players by a member of Bungie’s staff, and thus has caused quite a stir inside the community, especially amongst those who have already earned the armor. Bungie is likely to have a hit on their hands, and this may give us a peak into the future of the UNSC.

Bionic Commando (February 10; PC, PS3, 360

After the extremely pleasant surprise of remake Bionic Commando Rearmed last year, anticipation has been much higher for the three dimensional sequel. The game will still feature Nathan “Radd” Spencer, albeit with a new look (you can unlock the old look by owning Rearmed), on a new mission to grapple and shoot his way through swathes of ridiculous enemies. There is a jump added, competitive multiplayer, and a bunch of classic moves updated into the 3D format. Everything about this game looks and sounds like it will be the major adventure game of at least the first half of 2009.

MadWorld (March 10; Wii)

Finally, a Wii game on the list! I know, I know. Luckily, the amount of awesome that looks to be jammed into this stylish, ultra gory beat-em-up from Sega may well eclipse every other game on this list. In a black and white world with buckets of bright red blood, Jack uses his chainsaw arm, dual swords, grapples, throws, street posts, industrial fans, dumpsters, trains, and more to brutally kill his enemies. For those gamers dying for some more hardcore on the Wii, this looks to fit the bill. In fact, at present, the game is having some ratings issues, and will currently not be released at all in Germany, a country with notoriously difficult video game rating guidelines.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (June; PS3, 360)

Can it be? A good Batman game? Maybe… just maybe. Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series; Detective Comics) is writing the story for this third person adventure that promises equal parts brawling, sneaking, and detective work. Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy will lend their familiar voices to The Joker and Batman, respectively. Every major Batman villain could make an appearance, as the Dark Knight runs a gauntlet through the famed sanitarium in a story that may or may not share more than a name and basic idea with Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s 1989 comic. So far, there have been some very pretty screenshots, a basic trailer, and the talent announcements. It’s all adding up to a lot of hope for another Bat-tacular summer.

In the Corner of our Eyes:

Here’s just a small handful of the massive amount of AAA games due out this year, that didn’t quite make the top 9.

The Sims 3 (February 20; PC): The next major edition of  the best selling PC franchise of all time will do at least 4 things: improve graphics, offer new ways to live fake lives, spawn numerous expansion packs, and sell ridiculous amounts.

Final Fantasy XIII (2009; PS3, 360): This didn’t make the top 9, only because it coming out in the US in 09 is a tenuous hope at best. Still, there’s some hope, and if it does, spouses everywhere will miss their others for a good month or two.

Heavy Rain (Q4; PS3): *drools* Watch the trailer, wipe off your chin, and start hoping it plays as good as it looks.

Prototype (April; PS3, 360): The team that brought you Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is back with another open world superhero adventure. There will be explosions, I guarantee it.

Champions Online (April 20; PC): Remember Cryptic Studios, that brought you City of Heroes/Villains? They’re back with another superhero themed MMORPG, this one based on the Champions pen-and-paper RPG.

Street Fighter IV (February 17; PS3, 360, PC): The style has changed, but the 2D fighting is as classic as ever. A hit in the last few arcades still out there, the home version will have a couple new characters and online fighting.

Movie Tie-ins (most with their respective movies): These will serve to tie-in with and cash-in on their movie brethren, and unfortunately have to fight the stigma of past tie-ins: most are terrible. Still, there’s hope for Wanted (which takes place between the first movie and the planned sequel, and yes, is firmly planted in the movie version of this universe), Terminator Salvation, X-Men Origins Wolverine, Harry Potter 6, Watchmen, and more.

Well, that wraps up our look ahead into 2009, but there were a few tons of games left off this list, purely in the interest of space and conciseness. God of War 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, The Beatles, Brütal Legend… what other games are YOU looking forward to?

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