The Year Ahead - 2009

I don't understand people who choose not to anticipate upcoming games. I realize, of course, that the final product is entirely unpredictable, and that in the long run the anticipation of a game may be an entirely futile exercise. The same goes for the three days I spend in lurid daydreams of obscene wealth when the Powerball gets high enough to entice the rare dollar or two out of my pocket, but looking back even though I never win I always get some joy out of the illusion.

So what if The Force Unleashed didn't live up by half to the game I had anticipated for six months prior. The anticpation of the game was its own kind of fuel, perhaps even its own separate and equally important kind of joy. I love the part of being a gamer where I swim in the imaginination of gaming that may be to come. It doesn't dull the experience of playing the games I have in any way, and there's something very motivating about being able to mentally circle a date on the calendar as a thing worth looking forward to.

Even if eventual disappointment is part of the long term deal, that only lasts a day or two. The anticipation can carry me for months.

So, with that philosophy firmly entrenched, I turn my eyes to 2009, and offer a smattering of the games I will dream of playing. And all of that is headlined by my most anticipated game of the year: Dragon Age

The choice wasn't an easy one, and in trying to be realistic about which games stand to reasonably be released in the next 12 months I shelved a few titles that would have been a strong contender, and no doubt there are games to come in the second half of the year that we know nothing about at this point. For now, though, I will hope that Bioware gets away from the more linear and simplistic RPG-lite model, and lets Dragon Age pull them back to the kind of epic storytelling of which I know they are capable.

PC
- Starcraft 2
- The Sims 3
- Dawn of War II
- Empire: Total War
- Dragon Age: Origins
- Demigod

Xbox 360
- Halo Wars
- Resident Evil 5
- Ghostbusters
- Brutal Legend
- Prototype

PS3
- Killzone 2
- God of War III
- Uncharted 2
- Resident Evil 5
- Ghostbusters
- Noby Noby Boy

DS
- Peggle
- Jagged Alliance
- Trackmania DS
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time

PSP
- Star Ocean: Second Evolution
- Loco Roco 2

Wii
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
- MadWorld

Notable Games That May or May Not Release in 2009
- Diablo 3
- Alan Wake
- Final Fantasy XIII

Comments

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I think Half-Life 2: Episode 3 is my single most anticipated game of 2009.

Hmm. Dragon Age looks good, but didn't some Shawn Andrich guy say it was cancelled a while back? (No, I will not let that go! Nevar!)

I've been playing Shenmue 3 in my head for years now!

Regardless of system, most of the titles I was really looking forward to, came out in the holiday season of 2008. It's left a total vacuum in place of all that gaming anticipation I had. I dont see much on the horizon, regardless of system, that has me interested. Maybe that should be a sad thing from a gamer perspective, but I need some time to focus on 2008 gaming goodness. I look forward to seeing games I enjoy a lot, like Gears 2 and L4D, grow in 2009 via some DLC.

Now don't you go and enable me with forum game buzz or your podcasting thing-a-jiggy.

dhalgren2882 wrote:
I've been playing Shenmue 3 in my head for years now!

Me too! Isn't it awesome? I love the ability to just kill the main character after he starts repeating himself like a broken record.

I feel like a lot of sleeper hits will be coming this year since the "BIG GAMES TO DROOL OVER LIST" is a lot smaller than in '08 and '07. The only sleeper that I played was The Witcher, and it came out of left field for just about everyone but Certis.

I think the theme this year is going to be one of skepticism. Sure, a lot of the games listed above look good on paper (or on Youtube), but there's still a lot of question marks. Will Dragon Age bring back the glory days of Baldur's Gate or will it just be a nice, niche RPG like NWN2? Will the gameplay of Ghostbusters and Batman: Arkham Asylum match the production values, art, and voice acting that's been seen? Will Empire: Total War finally get the series over the hump of bad strategic and tactical AI? "Hope" might be the political theme of 2009, but "Cautious Optimism" might be the watchword of the gaming world.

The 360 list looks pretty shmeh. I guess I'll hold out hope for a Gears expansion pack. Gears of War 2: Cogs of Calamity! Gears of War 2: Mechanisms of Mayhem! Gears of War 2: The Wheels on the Cole Train go Whoo Whoo!!

Even if eventual disappointment is part of the long term deal, that only lasts a day or two. The anticipation can carry me for months.

So have you guys already locked in www.gameanticipaterswithjobs.com or its sister site www.inevitablydisappointedgameantici... ? Because you really want to get in before the squatters do.

I guess the one game I am really hoping will be good (other than the sports titles I will get regardless) is Batman: Arkham Asylum. I fear it may be a QTE fest, but it could also have gameplay closer to Deus Ex, without the guns. Lots of sneaking around, and lots of cool gadgets. I'm fully prepared that it will be a stinker, but I have enjoyed what the developers have said they are trying to do with the game.

If that can be a fun story to play through, and 2K Sports can just polish last year's baseball game without wasting any effort on new features, it would be a good year for me. There are plenty of 2008 (and 2007, for that matter) games for me to play.

Episode 3 has me really excited. I can't wait to go back and play through episodes 1 and 2 before it comes out, too. I have purposely avoided playing them again since Ep2 came out, knowing I'd want to revisit this year.

And Rat Boy, I totally am with you on Dragon Age - will it be another Baldur's Gate, which sets my world on fire, or simply another RPG which entertains me but doesn't make my list of all-time games. I'm excited to find out.

I'd have to say mine is Resident Evil 5. I've been waiting for this game for quite some time.

But, I do like the occasional blackout. I prefer not knowing anything about a game and then getting pleasantly surprised like I did with Valkryia Chronicles and Dead Space, rather than have huge anticipation and get disappointed--I'm looking at you Gears of War 2!!!

I'm lame... I'm most looking forward to the World of Warcraft patch for Arthas and beating that content.

Hmm, well this is odd... out side of Killzone 2, I have nothing to look forward to. ...huh?!

I'm kind of looking forward to Stardock's Elemental: War of Magic. Barring the generic name, I'm head-over-heels in love with the minimalist art style. The screenshots seem to suggest a dynamic terrain and monster generating engine... could we see hints of spore-like customization mixed with Master Of Magic strategery?

I _think_ War of Magic is slated for 2010, which is why I didn't mention it. I am also very much looking forward to it.

I think Mafia 2 is still slated for 2009. I really liked the first game. Other than that, I'm putting all my eggs in the Dragon Age basket.

Dragon Age, Ghostbusters, RE5... It should be a good year. There seems to be just enough to anticipate. I'm sure that my stack from 2008 will keep me busy through 2009 long enough to be able to get all the hot titles way after everyone else has found out if they are great or not.

My list supplement:

PS3
Gran Turismo 5
InFamous
Heavy Rain
(all "if they release", though given Prologue's state, GT5 is a likely release).

PC
Half-Life 2: Episode 3
World in Conflict: Soviet Assault
Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
Operation Flashpoint 2

Xbox 360
Velvet Assassin
Halo 3: Recon
Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Wii
Someone doing something clever on WiiWare

PSP
Gran Turismo (less of a sure thing than GT5)

I thought Gran Turismo 5 wasn't even a possibility? Like, "maybe 2010" not even. I believe I read that on Kotaku recently.

Nei wrote:
Hmm, well this is odd... out side of Killzone 2, I have nothing to look forward to. ...huh?! :(

Nah, not too odd. I mean, there's a bunch of games on the list that I'll definitely grab, but I haven't sprung a gaming boner just yet. Unless Blizzard releases Diablo 3 of course.

I'm hoping this year we'll see a few gems come out of nowhere and totally rock our world.

Huh, I guess Mass Effect was a bit of a let down for you, eh?

I still find it hard to believe that BioWare can do the impossible and make a true successor to Baldur's Gate 2. Neverwinter Nights and especially KotOR are much more contained and, dare I say it, insular experiences in general. Mass Effect is only the next logical step where the characters themselves broaden their control over the adventure and the narrative in general. On the other hand, an old school RPG like Baldur's Gate, which has a greater scope in every way, creates characters and situations out of the larger story/world it's trying to convey. I think with Mass Effect, they've created an incredibly intriguing premise; I think the action game play mingled with a premise, a purpose if you will, can be far more engrossing and effective than anything else BioWare puts out even if Baldur's Gate or, hopefully, Dragon Age tells a much grander, better honed story. It was one of the reasons why the narrative in Deus Ex was so successful. Mass Effect's only downfall is that the level designers are still stuck in the RPG para****, or maybe that BioWare just isn't cut out to make a great action game.

Granted, I've only played Mass Effect on the PC so I really wouldn't understand some of the gripe about the original Xbox version. But with all that in mind, I don't begrudge BioWare for the new direction they've taken.

But, who am I kidding? If Dragon Age turns out like Baldur's Gate 2, I'd be too happy to care about what new direction BioWare takes Mass Effect.

EDIT: As an aside, who here is excited for, or at the very least, mildly intrigued by F.E.A.R. 2?

I have a question for everyone - is it just me, or has anyone else stopped anticipating titles as much as they have in previous years? I find I can barely wrap my mind around games I'm currently playing let alone imagine the ones in the months to come.

I used to be very big on previews, gameplay vids, trailers, teasers, you name it - but I just haven't had the time to follow this stuff religiously. I do kind of miss that anticipation thing, but on the flip side, when the games do come out they feel nice and fresh at least.

Noldorin2646 wrote:
EDIT: As an aside, who here is excited for, or at the very least, mildly intrigued by F.E.A.R. 2?

I am very excited for that game. To me, the original FEAR still has the best combat of any FPS to date... just the visceral feel of the combat - with powerful guns right down the pistol, the chunking of walls and explosions of dust and debris with each errant round, slow-mo effects on command, debilitating melee attacks at your disposal, the constant maneuvers of the AI as they move objects and try to flank you, etc. - has surpassed any firefights before or since.

I remember playing CoD4 after FEAR and being disappointed with the combat... it was like a giant version of whack-a-mole, with enemies running to the same cover spots and sitting there waiting for you to headshot them as they popped up one by one. Give me more FEAR!

Elysium doesn't understand me. Nobody ever understands me!

I'm excited about Dragon Age, and I'm curious about how the Fallout 3 expansion will be handled. It likely will disappoint, but I'm curious all the same.

Dragon Age is definitely high on my list, especially after ordering the parts for my new PC yesterday. Brutal Legend is also very high up. I know it will be hilarious, I just hope they put a really good game to it as well. I'm also interested in Final Fantasy XIII (a game for which Final Fantasy XII killed almost all of my excitement for), especially with Tetsuya Nomura back doing character design, because the characters in Final Fantasy XII were just bland and boring.

Swat wrote:
I have a question for everyone - is it just me, or has anyone else stopped anticipating titles as much as they have in previous years? I find I can barely wrap my mind around games I'm currently playing let alone imagine the ones in the months to come.

I used to be very big on previews, gameplay vids, trailers, teasers, you name it - but I just haven't had the time to follow this stuff religiously. I do kind of miss that anticipation thing, but on the flip side, when the games do come out they feel nice and fresh at least.

I'm right there with you. I think part of it is having a real life, part of it is the almost inevitable let-down we all experience, and part of it is that some of the best games are ones we know very little, if anything, about. Definitely cools down anticipation fever...

I hope the year brings lots of good sleeper hits. With very few exceptions, the big name games expected this year do not excite me much. Dragon Age is a good example of one that I am excited about, but I too am skeptical of the scope.

There is one game that EGM mentioned in their last magazine that did pique my interest: Alpha Protocol. To quote the article:

An espionage role-playing game, by virtue of its concept, sounds intriguing. But when you add that it's from the developers of great RPGs like PlaneScape: Torment, Icewind Dale, and NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer, you can officially designate it as "pretty cool."

That just sounds way cool!

Alpha Protocol has some promise, certainly, but I too am stoked for Dragon Age.

I'm anticipating duke nukem forever.

Ha! Sorry I couldn't resist that one. Oh and dragon age no co-op? Pass. How can they make a dnd-esque game with no co-op?

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