In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a hype addict. Oh, no question I'll occasionally climb on my Soapbox and shout down the marketing terror that is media hype, but I freely admit it's a bit disingenuous, what with my running a media website and all. I think back on days when the ability to create side scrolling, much less parallax, on a PC was a pretty remarkable thing, and I wonder what the pioneer gamers of the eighties might have felt if they could see thirty seconds of Doom III in motion. It wasn't that long ago when just being able to walk up some stairs in a three-dimensional environment was jaw dropping, and now photo-realistic environments are par for the course. While I certainly have my moments of tragic disenchantment, deep down I still marvel at how strong an experience a game can be, and how much that interaction improves year after year.Certis and I were talking the other day about how being so deeply involved in our past time steals some of the magic. While I don't normally share our private conversations - like which forum member we think probably has the worst taste in music, or how surprisingly little we'd sell out for - I think that most adult gamers have felt this way from time to time. I certainly have, even going so far as to briefly swear off gaming; an interesting but ultimately fruitless experiment. The thing is, giving up on the promise of a great game yet to play, assuming that it's all going to be more-of-the-same crap, is what really steals enthusiasm. You've got to have something to look forward to. In that spirit, I present the 5 games I can't wait to play.
5) The Movies - We'll start off with my dark horse. Ok, I grant Peter Molyneux had a pretty big flop, at least from a critical perspective, with Black and White, but even Anthony Hopkins had his Freejack. Along with Fable - which is hovering around 6th or 7th on my list - The Movies looks to be shaping up as a game more about a fun game/toy than an AI and interface experiment. This Q&A suggests a simplicity of design, with a host of customizability and hidden depth, that just gets me excited. In my spirit of enthusiasm, I'm happy to give Peter another shot.
4) Halo 2 - Having seen the E3 in-game footage, a game that I was already looking forward to became an absolute must-have. The wide complaints about Halo's cookie-cutter scenery were well placed, but any suggestion that it wasn't simply a fun game to play through is clearly a little off. Bungie seems to have their head on straight with the sequel, as the war-torn city setting was an interactive, varied, and interesting back drop to the Master Chief's newest encounter. But when our stalwart hero leapt atop a passing Ghost and kicked off its startled driver, my jaw simply dropped, and I thought, 'oh yes, I will have you.'
3) Star Wars Galaxies - Ignorance is bliss, and in some respects I'm glad I haven't been able to participate in the beta yet, at least that's what I tell myself at night when I'm playing Planetside. I say this, because I'm terribly afraid that the things I hope for, and expect from Galaxies might not pan out, that I will be sorely disappointed, and that I will finally be forced to admit that SOE is a company of great concepts and poor execution. But, this is not a list of the games I have the most faith in, or that I think stand the best chance of achieving greatness - in that case World of Warcraft would be here - but the games I genuinely can't wait to play, and I've been waiting for Galaxies for a very long time ... much longer than it's been in development.
2) Doom III - There as many different approaches to style and content for the FPS genre as there are developers with their own perspective and ideas. One type involves complex plots, deep characterization, strong personal involvement in the arc of the story, and an emotionally immersive environment. This is not what Doom III is, or should be, about. Another type of shooter comes at you with steel teeth bared, jagged claws extended, sulfurous breath, and murderous eyes. I don't know about you, but I'm probably more terrified of a hellish demon that is charging me from a dark corner than one that is patiently telling me his story of divine ennui. Doom III doesn't need to entone a deep tale to scare the bejesus out of me. It just needs to turn off the lights and growl.
1) Half-Life 2 - When Gordon Freeman pushed the table in front of the doorway to block the pursuit of his attacker, I thought that was pretty cool. And, when that gun wielding assailant tried the barred door and then swept around to shoot out the windows, tracking his prey, I was suitably impressed. With Freeman eluding his bullets, the determined soldier blasted through the door. The desk and its contents danced around the room in a realistic manner, and I started to get excited. As Gordon continued to evade his pursuer, using some mechanism to rip a radiator from its wall mount, firing that radiator as a devastating projectile, knocking a mattress down the stairs to block pursuit, and shooting out the support for a swinging steel girder that toppled startled enemies, I became increasingly breathless. With stellar visuals, the promise of a deep and engaging story, careful attention to such nuances as facial expression and eye shape, a physically realistic environment, and a wide array of characters, comrades, and enemies, in a matter of days Half-Life 2 soared from speculation to the game I simply must have. Best of all, I need only wait a matter of months, not years.