2009 is almost over, and as one arbitrarily arranged period of time draws to a close, another edges ever nearer. It's a time of reflection, but it's also a time for looking forward, and judging by the calender of hot upcoming games, there's a lot to look forward to.
All week, Destructoid will be taking you on a tour of its most anticipated games of 2010, breaking them down by platform as the Dtoid staff prepares the hype cannons for the biggest titles on the market. First up is the Xbox 360, so join myself, Jordan Devore and Tom Fronczak for the most anticipated Xbox 360 games of 2010.
Easily one of the most hotly anticipated videogames of my life, Bayonetta is one of the first games released in 2010 and one of my most eagerly awaited 360 games ever. It's only incredibly sexy, with a smoking lead character who has a tendency for PG nudity, but it's also incredible fun to play. Bayonetta is a fantastic and empowering action experience, with literally any combination of button presses leading to some sort of outrageously brilliant attack. Any game that lets you summon giant boots made out of hair is worth a go, right?
From the many demos I have played of Platinum Games' big action extravaganza, I have not been disappointed. Bayonetta is all set to be one of the most over-the-top, off-the-wall action games of all time. It's also going to be bloody good as well, which you simply can't say no to. Oh, and like I said, Bayonetta herself is damn sexy. Never hurts.
Any Xbox 360 owner in their right mind should be looking forward to Ruffian Games' follow-up to the excellent Crackdown. This sequel has been a long time coming, and all signs point to the wait being worth it. Pacific City has now been overrun with a mutant virus that has forced the city into war. It's up to the Agency to keep the peace, but it doesn't seem that anybody wants it to.
Crackdown 2 should be bigger, badder, and more ludicrous than the original. Even if it was more of the same, it would be a welcome game, but it seems that Ruffian plans to fix the original title's problems while adding a whole bunch of new toys to play with. It's sure to be a fantastic game, and something that Crackdown fans deserve. At least, it better be.
Very much like Crackdown 2, Remedy's long-awaited Alan Wake is an obvious choice, and one of the first games you typically think of when it comes to Xbox 360 exclusives. Alan Wake feels like it's been in development since before Cheech & Chong were ever born, and while lengthy development times can sometimes bode ill for a game, everything we've seen in Alan Wake so far looks excellent.
Atmospheric, spooky, and with a genuinely interesting premise, Alan Wake's story of an author whose own fiction seems to be haunting him sounds very promising indeed. We'll have to wait until we get the game in our hands to see if the long wait's been worth it, but I'm totally looking forward to find out!
An Xbox Live Arcade game from little-known Australian developer Halfbrick Games, Raskulls is a cute and genuinely funny party game that should be great fun indeed. Having played the game myself, I can confirm that the mixture of Mr. Driller block-breaking and platform racing is an addictive one, and Raskulls is one of those games that make you shout "OOOOH" at the TV screen just before you hit the finishing line.
There is also something amazing about the game that will be revealed soon, and that will make it a day-one buy for many of you reading this. What that is, you'll find out in 2010. You best start anticipating it, because I am anticipating it like crazy!
Aliens vs. Predator:
I love Aliens stuff of any description. I love Aliens stuff so much that I recently bought a real-life battleaxe just because it was sculpted to look like an Alien Warrior. If I see an Aliens Extermination arcade machine, I have to play it, and as I type this, I am looking at my 18" Alien toy from Neca. I love Aliens. It's no surprise that I'm aching to finally play Rebellion's Aliens vs. Predator.
This is a game that lets you rip off a man's head and then use it to bypass retinal scanners. This is a game that features first-person secondary jaw perspectives. This is a game that gives you waves and waves of Xenomorphs to battle, running around and screaming 'VASQUEZ" at the top of your lungs. Whether the game eventually rocks or sucks doesn't matter to me. It's an Aliens game. That's good enough. I'm always up for another bug hunt.
Having only recently put Burnout Paradise back on the shelf dedicated to no-longer-active videogames, I'll soon be needing a new batsh*t insane, action-centric racing game to fill the void. Enter Black Rock Studio's Split/Second. From what I have played and seen so far, it's bound to be the perfect replacement.
More than anything else, the integrated HUD a la Dead Space and the almost Hollywood-esque stretches of city you'll be racing across are what have me hooked. Fans of random acts of violence, things exploding in dramatic and glorious ways (really, who doesn't love this?), and adrenaline rushes ought to be supremely excited for this coming May.
Mass Effect 2:
Often times developers can't quite get their new IP to exactly match their initial vision; that's where sequels come in. 2010 is very much a year of follow-ups, with Mass Effect 2 being looked on as one of the biggest contenders. As crazy as this is going to sound, I have yet to play the original Mass Effect.
Early talk of its flaws, among other things, kept me away. And yet, here is Mass Effect 2, one of my most anticipated games. The "suicide mission" premise combined with the hope that lessons have been learned by BioWare has me so incredibly anxious for this release to happen already. It's about time I seek out the prior installment so I can take part in the coming save-file-transfer nerdgasm, huh?
Splinter Cell: Conviction:
Stealth games can be totally hit or miss for me. Either they subscribe to the increasingly outdated "you were spotted therefore you must lose" theory, or they strike a good balance between requiring skill and not being completely unforgiving. Conviction seems to be going for the latter, which is exactly why it's on my list.
I'm digging the new direction for Sam Fisher, specifically the lack of cut scenes -- crucial info is stylishly projected onto nearby objects in the environment -- and his less "professional" mindset towards getting the job done now that he's no longer with Third Echelon. Unapologetic action and empowerment, that's what I'm hoping to find here.
Red Dead Redemption:
There haven't been an awful lot of good videogames focused around the Wild West, which makes Red Dead Redemption all the more appealing. It keeps being described as "Grand Theft Auto IV on a horse," which is silly, seeing as how this game looks far better than the latest GTA.
But yes, Rockstar's patented approach to open-world gaming is very much alive and well in Red Dead Redemption. The location itself looks jaw-droppingly magnificent, with the sheer number of neat things you can do in-game ranking pretty high up there for the genre. By all accounts, it should be one of those soul-eating games that devours your life.
Oh, and did I mention you get to lasso people and then drag them from your horse? Sign me up!
Lost Planet 2:
There's nothing I enjoy more than a good cooperative experience, and Lost Planet 2 looks to be taking this popular friendly-but-not-too-friendly form of multiplayer to fun new heights. Similar to the previous installment, Capcom put out a demo far in advance, this time providing a perfect glimpse as to just how different this sequel really is in terms of tone, story, and level of ambition.
Many people -- myself definitely included -- weren't exactly fond of the rather sketchy controls in the first game, but seemingly all of our complaints have been addressed in some form or other for Lost Planet 2. Everything feels better, which is great, because the concept of a less serious, more science fiction-y Shadow of the Colossus with friends deserves to be attached to a stellar game.
Even if Lost Planet 2 completely expands everything from the first game successfully, I still don't see it being the equivalent of an Uncharted 2 sequel, but instead just a less short and shallow version of the first Lost Planet game. Want some enjoyable environments that lead up to intense boss fights? Darksiders should deliver that and more. In the end, Lost Planet 2 may execute the overall best boss fights of 2010, but I worry that its levels and entire world setting will be just as forgettable as the first.
However, I did almost swap this game out for Bayonetta, and it very well may end up being the more enjoyable game of the two, but Darksiders looks much more well rounded in its combat and puzzle gameplay, and Joe Madureira is still one of my favorite artists after all these years. Waiting for this game's arrival twice as long as Bayonetta has only made me anticipate its release even more.
By that same logic, Alan Wake was yet another title that I almost swapped into this place, but after being overcooked it now smells of having an incredibly short story and being filled with graphics that are no longer ahead of its generation due to its unexplainable excessive delays. I'll take quality over quantity any day, but I'm hoping Darksiders will deliver both.
When a game attempts to out-action God of War combat, adds in even more Zelda elements to gameplay, and paints the visuals like it was World of Warcraft's hotter looking cousin, then Vigil Games would have to try pretty hard to screw up such a great formula after working on their game for so long (it made my list last year, too).
Mass Effect 2:
I'm actually in the same boat (spaceship?) as Grim on this one: I haven't beaten the first game yet, but I'm still viciously looking forward to the second title. BioWare is sculpting quite the solar system sized science fiction series, and I'll be tagging along for the whole ride. Hopefully I'll be caught up in time for the new one, and hopefully the superb characters and interactions only continue to evolve and impress.
At the same time though, my excitement over this series quickly turns into frustration with our industry. Grim Fandango used nonlinear dialogue game design over a decade ago, and these days when Fallout 3 and Mass Effect do it, it shouldn't be a feature that makes them game of the year contenders -- it should be no more than a bullet point on the back of their game cover. How long must we wait for widely accepted and widely demanded game features and mechanics to become industry standards? I know I'm not the only Dtoider who had their words taken out of their mouths by BioWare lately.
The poem was written more than half a millennium ago, and demons date back to the dawn of Na-avi man, and there's nothing original in any way, shape, or astral form about Satanic stories, yet original is exactly the word I want to use to describe this game. Not because of its story or context, but because of the new concepts it's applying to extremely old concepts.
As an artist, there's nothing I value more in paintings, books, songs, movies, or games than imagination, and that's all I see when I look at this game. Each generation's view of evil changes, and I can't wait to see what 2010's official stamp of Satan will look like. Back in Dante's day, a small sin could have dire consequences, but in today's world, in a world where our view of Hell involves fiery elevators with demons spawning from the tits of an unspeakable titan of terror, I want to know what other horrors are hidden within this game. It looks like a cross between the movies Pan's Labyrinth and Constantine, and that's one game I can't pass up.
For those doubters out there, let's not forget that Visceral Games didn't disappoint with Dead Space. If they could make the entirely unoriginal space survival horror FPS genre feel fresh, then I don't doubt that they can make Hell equally exciting and scary in new ways. Besides, Electronic Arts gets to profit from it -- how much scarier could it get?
This had better be the pinnacle of the era of game sequels for new series. I'll be flying through Mass Effect 2 for its excellent characters and dialogue, and I'll be swimming through BioShock 2 for its impressively immersive levels. Rapture was so captivating and creatively explored that I'm willing to dive in again no matter where the sequel leads me. There's plenty left unsaid about the world both before and after Andrew Ryan, and there's plenty left unexplored both above and below Rapture. I've purposely been avoiding all news about this game, and I can't wait to be surprised.
I'm not a fan of the increasing amount of sequels and series being squeezed by companies too afraid to take risks on new ideas, but I am a fan of BioShock 2. I fully expect 2K Marin to flood us with a steady stream of BioShock titles, and I'm completely ready to drown in delight.
Red Dead Redemption:
I should make this a top six list and leave the number two spot blank to show how far ahead this game is in my most anticipated Xbox 360 games of 2010 list.
Including games from all consoles, handhelds, and PC, what other game would I possibly want to explore more than this? Most likely, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm or Final Fantasy XIV would be the only contenders, and by skipping the MMO aspect, Rockstar San Diego has chosen to carefully create a world miles and miles wide and acres and acres deep all for you. Not for a guild or a party off on lifeless and boring quests, but all designed around you and your story. From horizon to horizon, far as your big screen TVs can see, all waiting for you to explore and interact with. It sounds three times as large as Gun, looks five times as gorgeous, and feels ten times more real.
2010 won't be the year of FFXIV's Hydaelyn, or WoW: Cataclysm's revamped Azeroth, or even BioShock 2's Rapture revisit. 2010 will be the year the wild west was finally won once again. If Red Dead Redemption doesn't live up to my expectations and gain my top 2010 Game of the Year nomination vote, then 2010 will have been a failure for me.