Being a list of games I’m really looking forward to in 2009.
(This is sort of a quick cop-out post to keep the blog active as I dive head-first into TNM’s crunch.)
Alpha Protocol (Obsidian Entertainment)
Way up there at the top of my list. Deus Ex meets Jason Bourne as written by Chris Avellone. The Origin/Looking Glass school of game design meets the Black Isle/BioWare school. There is basically no way this can turn out as anything less than a fantastic game. Obsidian have always been stalking in the shadows of BioWare, and even now as they’re working on their first original IP, the project looks conspicuously like Mass Effect in another setting. But is this a problem? On the contrary. Obsidian’s games may generally lack the polish of BioWare’s, but they always add a spark of vision to BioWare’s often formulaic designs, and that’s why I love them. And that’s why Alpha Protocol will be great.
Dawn of War 2 (Relic Entertainment)
I’m not proud to admit that I’m not into RTS games. As a game designer, dismissing entire genres from my repertoire is a massive shortcoming and a crippling limitation of my creative potential. But Dawn of War 2 more than any previous game seems to have asked why people like me don’t like RTS games and then addressed the problem. Dawn of War 2 looks more like a squad-based Diablo – the emphasis is on small-scale tactics rather than base defence and tank rushes, your teams are led by persistent characters with personality and evolving skill sets, and the mission structure is open and dynamic. This is an RTS game designed specifically for me. How can I be anything but excited?
Dragon Age: Origins (BioWare Corp)
Rumours have emerged that the development of Dragon Age has been badly managed, but I remain confident that it will be a good game: BioWare has yet to let me down (even NWN with its lacklustre singleplayer campaign granted me one of my best and most lasting gaming experiences in multiplayer), and Dragon Age looks defiantly old-school and aimed squarely at the hard core roleplayer demographic.
Mass Effect 2 (BioWare Corp)
To be honest it’s still a bit up in the air whether the second game in the Mass Effect trilogy will be released in 2009. Wikipedia puts it on December 31, which seems like an odd release date to begin with (seeing how all the shops will be closed?), so it’s definitely skirting the edge, but who knows? In any case, Mass Effect 2 is bound to be great simply because Mass Effect was brilliant, and alledgedly it’s been planned as a trilogy from the start. Hopefully they’ve managed to fix some of the first game’s shortcomings this time around (the awkward vehicle sequences, the uninspired uncharted worlds, and the silly semi-QTE hacking minigame).
Velvet Assassin (Replay Studios)
This could go either way really. So much of what they’re doing with that game looks great: It’s a stealth game directed by a former key member of IOI’s Hitman team set during World War 2 and framed by an off-beat coma story in a hospital ward. It’s also made in Germany by a studio with an unimpressive track record. Some of their story features sound decidedly weird, but I think they just might be weird in a good way.
Care to share your own list?