22 January, 2009

Amazing Xbox 360 line up for 2009!

So after the awesome Christmas line-up we have just enjoyed for the Xbox 360 (which I am working my way through as quickly as I can), what do we have to look forward to in 2009? There has been some suggestion that there is going to be a bit of a drought of talent, but I've done some digging and it really looks like there is a *huge* amount to get excited about!!

For convenience I've broken them down into three categories, starting with titles that I am very, *very* excited about (and why) -

Bioshock 2 - Sea of Dreams - Need I actually say any more? The continuation (although there is some speculation that it is likely to be a prequel) of this "spiritual successor" to the System Shock series has already got me shuddering with anticipation (and fear)...oh and Bioshock 3 has been announced too, timed to be released at the same time as the upcoming Bioshock movie, so lots to look forward to!

Ghostbusters - Even though it was pretty terrible by today's standards, back in the 8-bit era one of my favorite games was Ghostbusters (even with it's attribute clash and almost indistinguishable digitised speech) and that is probably the real reason why I'm so excited by this prospect (i.e. actually seeing some justice done to the franchise)...Despite the project being juggled like a hot potato, it does finally have a distributer (Atari at last check) and features members of the original cast including Ramis, Aykroyd, Murray and Ernie Hudson who have reunited to do the voice acting...equal measures of humor and scares are promised, as well as (familiar and new) weapons and gadgets to try and save New York City once again, and yes, you do get to set fire to Mr Stay Puft and that's got to be worth the price of admission alone...!

Beyond Good and Evil 2 - Very little information has emerged about this sequel to one of the most incredible games ever made (and sadly overlooked by most people), but the name alone is enough to justify extreme excitement for me...If you never played the first one, I can't recommend it strongly enough...incredible storytelling, one of the most believable worlds ever created inside a video game, genuinely compelling puzzles, clever and satisfying combat...if this game is anything like the first one, we are in for one hell of a ride!

Banjo-Tooie - An odd inclusion you might think, as this is penciled in at the moment as an Xbox Live Arcade title, but it seems to be shaping up into what I was really after from "Nuts and Bolts", i.e. a true sequel to the original N64 titles...Gruntilda is back (blah blah blah) and you still solve problems, do time challenges and jump around a lot collecting jiggies, however it's little exciting twist (there had to be one) being the ability to play as various other characters (including Mumbo, a submarine, a washing machine and even a dinosaur)...so let's all cross our fingers and hope it's a RARE hit (rather than miss... ;)

Just Cause 2 - Even though I never actually managed to liberate *all* the settlements on the original (it was *huge*) I'm still looking forward to seeing exactly what completely ridiculous acrobatics Rico Rodriguez is going to be capable of this time (my favorite of the first game being to drive at 100mph then jump out onto the car roof and deploy my parachute, soaring into the air over the jungle...that was just awesome)...hopefully some of the annoyances of the previous game will have been ironed out (less grinding would have been nice - I got royally sick of stealing shipments of cigars), and a better story line pumped into place (they have Far Cry 2 as a benchmark now, so the stakes have been well and truly raised)...oh and it's set in South East Asia this time (so that's the last time you have to hear that annoying "Policia!" sound bite (thank God)... ;)

Chronicles of Riddick: The Assault on Dark Athena - If you ever played the first Chronicles of Riddick game, you will *know* why this one is in this section - Vin Diesel *GETS*games - it's as simple as that...he understands exactly what is going to work, what is going to excite and surprise and he works his arse off to make sure that any project he is involved in is immersive, feels realistic and is extremely engaging. The movies were a bit...odd (IMHO, no matter how much I tried to like them)...the games (if the second one is anything like the first) are classics...

Alan Wake - Last, but not least, a game where the hype engine has certainly been cranked up to 11...You play a horror novelist (of the same name) who finds himself trapped in the nightmarish town of Bright Falls and in order to escape must solve a terrible mystery. It's a go anywhere/any time affair, as you uncover a story of suspense, with outrageous plot twists and fascinating NPCs, take care exploring during the hours of darkness though, as the demonic foe are more powerful at night! I want to say "Hurry up", but actually guys, don't...just take your time and release the game when it's *perfect*...

- next, we'll check out a few titles that stand a very good chance of being "must have" titles (and certainly merit keeping a careful eye upon) -

Splinter Cell - Conviction - The last time we saw Sam Fisher he was on the run from Third Echelon, a changed man...quite how this one is going to shape up is unclear, the levels I liked the least of the previous games were the ones where you were stripped of your equipment, and guess what? Being a fugitive means all that kit got put on ice...the key to survival now is improvisation, your environment becomes your inventory...In a nod to the "Hitman" series it's going to be possible to blend in with crowds to avoid detection or cause panic to distract enemies, multiplayer features too with players able to take opposing sides in the battle rather than facing AI enemies...I'm watching with interest!

APB - Right, this one is in here for one reason only - Back in the days of GTA I and GTA:London (on the PC at least, oddly there was no option on the PSOne even though it had a link cable) it was possible to link together loads of computers and play GTA with all your mates - and it was *extremely* fun...! What on earth the developers thought they were doing when they lost sight of that leaves me feeling stunned and slightly hurt every time I think about it...This game seeks to fix that blatant -if you will forgive me-
crime...So pick a side, be it Cops or Gangs, and do your thing in a world full of human opposition, it's even got a (background) skill matching system to keep things fair and interesting (well, we'll see how well that works in practice)...no word yet on a single player mode, but it doesn't sound likely...

Street Fighter IV - The original Street Fighter cast is dragged kicking and screaming out of retirement (yet again) but this time not for a super-duper turbo special edition of an existing engine...this is a "from scratch" sequel, which you can't ignore - not only is it
*gasp* -3D- (with dynamic camera), it's also adopted an extremely stylish cel-shaded look (a la Jet Set Radio, although a little less stylised), it hasn't abandoned the classic side scrolling gameplay though, never fear...There are a light dusting of new characters (including an MMA expert) and there are the obligatory new special moves which include focus attacks, super combos, and (with a nod of the head towards Nintendo) Ultraaaaaaa! Combos...it certainly *looks* amazing, we'll see if the gameplay is still as accessible and fun as it used to be...

Resident Evil 5 - Chris Redfield (how is he still alive?) goes to Africa! Combine the classic T-Virus zombie/mutant zombie threat with an army of Resi 4's Ganados, expect constant swarms of infected, including foe larger than ever seen before in the series...thankfully, in order to combat this imbalance, Chris is not alone - in a new twist, local or online co-op is the order of the day (although single player is still an option) player two taking control of newcomer companion Sheva Alomar (who is thankfully just as handy with firearms as Mr Redfield)...This is also the game that is supposed to tie up all the loose ends from the complicated ongoing story that began with Resi 1...so could we actually be looking at the end of the Umbrella Corporation? Don't hold your breath (while the series is still making money)... ;)

Wolfenstein - Raven (the development house) are back in action (which is a good thing), coding the latest run-and-gun adventure set in the world of Wolfenstein...so it's back to that scary vision of Germany where Hitler successfully harnessed the power of the supernatural to give the Nazis an unfair advantage in World War 2...very much looking forward to that, but a nice plot this time will be required to get me really frothing at the mouth... ;)

Aliens - Colonial Marines - Single player or co-op (with up to three pals) don the body amour Players take on the role of a member of the United States Colonial Marine squad in a terrifying new chapter of the Aliens story. Arm up with classic franchise weapons - pulse rifles/flamethrowers etc., as well as brand new technology against the Alien hive...bring it on!

- and finally, the ones that could be awesome or could be lame -

Dungeon Hero - Co-op or single player dungeon slash, smash and zzap(!) - it's just too hard to say at the moment, but this might be the kind of thing that really floats my boat, certainly looks like it allows a lot of enemies on the screen at once (so you can practice your big fireballs)... ;)

Blood Bowl - Well, this takes me back! Set your wayback machine to 1987, when in a leap sideways from traditional table top wargaming (specifically the Warhammer/40K/Epic series) the partners in battle "Games Workshop" and the model makers "Citadel Miniatures" collaborated to put out an interesting twist on Rugby/American Football featuring Elves, Orcs and Dwarves who will do literally anything to get the ball into the scoring zone at the other end of the field (including wiping out the opposition)...the dice-and-paper game did actually get turned into a DOS title in 1995 (maintaining the turn-based nature of the original board game)...this remake could go one of two ways, I'm not into sports titles myself, but I might be tempted to if I were able to tear an opponents head off...we shall see!

Alpha Protocol - Fable II-type flexible character development based on moral decisions meets Splinter Cell -looking very pretty at the moment, could be a winner in the making when agent Michael Thornton steps up to the plate to stop an international crisis escalating out of control, his every action having consequences for both his and the world’s future...a mashup of a couple of good ideas, it
could result in something special...

- so that's actually about as far away from a drought of good titles that you could possibly get! In fact, it's rapidly shaping up into another financial severe dilemma! Bah... ;)


Kev Brown said...

Halo Wars??? I'm also looking forward to most of those titles, especially Ghostbusters, Aliens-CM and Bioshock 2, I hope Alan Wake is good, they keep comparing it to the last Alone In The Dark, which in my opinion was excellent, so fingers crossed!

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

I don't think RTS games work too well without a mouse, my only reason for not including it...I'll probably play it on the PC (if they ever port it)...I could yet be convinced by a demo, but Halo games tend not to get them... ;)

Ys said...

Woo! Bioshock 2! I can't wait for this one. It's one of those games I love to watch being played but have never played myself. I found it very inspiring for my writing too!

And there's going to be a 3? Even more exciting! :D