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Big Ross’ Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2009

Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageIt's that time of year again.  The time of year when everyone looks ahead and wonders what's in store for the new year.  It's the same for movies, music, and television.  It's no different with video games.  So while we're all embracing change and working to keep New Year's resolutions, here's a list of 10 games I think you should keep an eye out for in 2009.







10. Velvet Assassin

Take a stealth action game, set it in World War II era Europe with the Nazi German Wehrmacht as the enemy, and have the playable hero be inspired by real-life secret agent/saboteur Violette Szabo, and you've got my attention.  Stealth action can be a challenge to pull off, but when done well can be incredibly fun to play.  Nazis have served as fodder for video game villains from the venerable Castle Wolfenstein to the present-day Call of Duty series, and for some reason that never really gets old.  Add to these the fact that women have been, and continue to be, woefully underrepresented in video games as playable heroes (really, how many can you name?  Samus from Metroid, who almost doesn't count because if you didn't know you almost couldn't tell under all that armor, uh…Chun Li from Street Figher (maybe, because how many actually picked her?)…ummm….that girl from Perfect Dark?  (See!  I don't even know her name!) and I'm excited for this one.


9.  Damnation

I don't know much more about this game than how it's being billed:  "Taking the shooter vertical is the revolutionary aim of the epic new action title Damnation. Combining huge open environments, frenetic combat, daredevil acrobatics, and vehicle-based stunts, Damnation breathes fresh air into the shooter genre. Set in a fictional steampunk era influenced by the American Civil War, take charge of hero Rourke and embark on an immersive journey of revenge as two factions engage in an apocalyptic war."  That sounds cool enough to pique my interest to the point of wanting to know more.  Hopefully a demo will be coming to Xbox Live soon to give us a better idea of what Damnation has to offer.


8.  The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Pitch Black was a pretty solid sci-fi/horror film that introduced the world to the very cool, bad-ass character of Riddick.  Forget whatever thoughts you may have about the flawed sequel The Chronicles of Riddick, the video game adaptation The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was by all accounts a great action/stealth game (set before the events of Pitch Black, so it avoided the foul odor of the film sequel).  I wouldn't know because I didn't get around to playing it while I owned an Xbox, and the game is not backward compatible with the Xbox 360.  No matter.  Developers have retooled TCOR:EFBB for next-gen consoles and have added so much new content that it can't really be considered a simple remake, but instead a remake-sequel-hybrid.  Whatever you call it, it sounds freakin' awesome.


7.  Halo Wars

There's no arguing that the Halo franchise is the biggest and most reliable tent-pole for Microsoft Game Studios.  So you might think that they could slap the Halo brand on a turd and it would break sales records.  But by all indications Halo Wars is nothing of the kind.  First of all it pulls back from the very personal storyline centering around Halo's hero and protagonist, Master Chief, and presents the war between humanity and The Covenant on a more epic and interstellar scale.  Appropriately, the gameplay shifts from the first-person shooter genre of the previous Halo games to a real-time strategy format, allowing players to control entire armies and wage all-out war.  And who better to bring such a game to life than Ensemble Studios, the developers behind the award-winning and massively popular Age of Empires series.  If it's appropriate to judge by their track record, Halo Wars should be phenomenal.


6.  Resident Evil 5

I hear that Resident Evil 4 was the best in the series.  I wouldn't know because the only one I've ever played was Resident Evil 2, which I recall as being pretty good, though that was a long time ago.  Given that it seems Resident Evil 5 is being built upon the very solid foundation of RE4's gameplay, is using new technical innovations with the game's lighting system to make even broad daylight terrifying, and like RE4 is taking the game's story away from the familiar Raccoon City to the uncharted waters of Africa, and I'm thinking I need to re-introduce myself to the zombie hoards of Resident Evil.  Maybe you do too.


5.  Ghostbusters: The Video Game

While this one might not be on the radar of younger gamers, it's definitely on mine.  Maybe that's because I'm old enough to have fond memories of the original movie (and not so fond memories of its lackluster sequel).  The former outweigh the latter enough that, although I'm not clamoring for it, I would probably get excited at the news of a third Ghostbusters film.  That's most likely never going to happen, so consider this the next best thing.  And if you are still plagued with nightmares of the Ghostbusters 2 video game (originally available on the NES), this latest game looks to be as far removed from that terrible, April Fool's prank-inspiring crap as possible.  Finally we'll get to wield a proper proton pack!


4.  Batman: Arkham Asylum

How is it that we have never had a really successful video game based on the Batman?  I can understand why making a Superman game would be difficult (either you're an invincible god from the beginning or you slowly acquire Superman's power-set throughout the game, both suck for different reasons), but Batman?  Come on!  A non-superpowered hero, lots of cool gadgets and weapons, cool vehicles, a bad-ass rogues gallery, martial arts fighting, Batman is just screaming for a decent video game.  And it looks like Batman: AA might just be it.  And setting the game in Arkham Asylum?  Inside the lion's den?  Classic.  And perhaps the very best part?  Kevin Conroy voices Batman, Mark Hamill voices the Joker, and there's no Robin in sight.


3.  Halo 3: ODST

As I've discussed above, the Halo franchise is a sure-fire hit.  While developer Bungie has handed the reigns of Halo Wars off to Ensemble Studios, they've gone on to announce that they're not finished making games in the Halo universe.  But what has both shocked and excited the Halo Fan Nation is that their latest game, Halo 3: ODST will not feature the iconic Master Chief.  Instead players will take on the role of a member of the UNSC's Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) program.  Though it will not be a stealth/action games along the lines of the Splinter Cell series, Bungie has hinted that stealth elements will be incorporated as players will have to be more cautious given the heightened vulnerability of their new hero.  Even though Halo 3:ODST is more on the level of an expansion to Halo 3 than a full game, and while it's more limited scope might not offer significant, new insights into the Halo mythology, any return to the Halo universe is a welcome one, and it's particularly exciting considering we'll be venturing through it in someone other than Master Chief's shoes.


2. Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams

There's a very simple reason I'm highly anticipating this sequel.  Bioshock was, IMHO, the best game of 2007a year that was full of great games like Halo 3, Mass Effect, and others.  From the graphics to the storyline to the gameplay, it was absolutely fantastic.  Some might find it worrisome that the developers of the original aren't involved in the sequel, it likely won't be set in Rapture, and developers have promised it will be "very, very different," but considering that Sea of Dreams is intended to be both a prequel and sequel to Bioshock, that's more than enough to get me excited.  Plan on buying this game, would you kindly?


1. Dragon Age: Origins

I think that the seeds of my current tastes in gaming were laid a little more than 10 years ago.  I had played most of the platforming games available on Nintendo's various consoles, was around for the early days of first-person shooters with Castle Wolfenstein and Doom, but I really think that the first true role-playing game to grab ahold of me firmly and demand my undivided attention was Baldur's Gate.  I distinctly remember opening the game box and unfolding the case to reveal not one, not two, but five CDs of game content.  My mind reeled at how big Baldur's Gate had to be to demand five discs.  And the days and hours I spent playing this game did not disappoint.  And really, neither has developer Bioware in the years since with The Neverwinter Nights series, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and other RPG-centered titles.  Dragon Age: Origins is Bioware's return to the high fantasy RPG, and they've not settled for playing in the Forgotten Realms sandbox, but instead have created their own fictional world completely separate, though not entirely unfamiliar, from Dungeons & Dragons.  Given all of that, not to mention the announced plans for, as the name suggests, separate origins for the various playable races and classes that exponentially increases the replayability factor, and Dragon Age: Origins just might be the game I'm looking forward to most.