People who write about video games are currently printing out the next few weeks' releases, double-checking to make sure there wasn't an error, then attempting to put the paper to good use by slicing it across their throats. Of course, no one will actually die, as any experienced neckbeard-paper-scissors player knows.
Yes, we are in the barren post-holiday wasteland. The void. The great empty. The well which contains Visceral Games' creativity and originality. The manifestation of Bobby Kotick's humanity.
Rather than wallow in misery or waste your time by pretending that a piece of technology from CES will have any meaningful impact on video games, however, I thought it would be fun to focus on the most interesting games that will be coming our way this year.
These are simply games that I'm looking forward to for various reasons, and are in no way a comprehensive list of the year's releases.
Dragon Age II (March 8) The first game was a complex, true-to-its-roots computer RPG with a slow burn that occasionally paid off in pretty unique ways. It wasn't without its faults, but it didn't deserve the level of cynical internet backlash that inevitably gets heaped on any BioWare title.
I want to see how the optional (at least on PC) action-oriented control scheme pans out. Will fights play out like an unholy union of God Of War (which is already terrible in itself) and Final Fantasy 12, with less customizable party member AI?
I'm also in favor of games that develop unique art styles instead of layering high-res textures and shaders on top of semi-realistic models, but early shots of the game have removed all the shaders, textures, and style. I really hope the end result is more like looking at a moving version of the concept art, as opposed to a fantasy Quake 2 mod.
Warhammer 40K Dawn Of War II: Retribution (March 10) Controlling units in Dawn Of War II is weird. Your dudes don't follow orders with precision so much as distractedly listen to your suggestions before deciding it would be better to run directly in the large glowing X that indicates an enemy's missile strike.
Still, I loved every minute of the base game and the first expansion. I want more maps to obsessively explore until every pixel of the minimap is revealed, more enemies to shoot with space nailguns, more skills to forget to use in the heat of battle, and a LOT more randomized loot.
Retribution seems to have a bit of a dynamic campaign going on, but more importantly it has the Imperial Guard. If you don't read Warhammer books, this basically means you get to be a bastard and sacrifice 100 ill-equipped men to do the job of one ork in a mechanized trash can.
Dungeon Siege III (March 20) First two games? Generic.
This one? Developed by Obsidian. Yeah, the Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol, "we write the hell out of these messed up games" Obsidian. What a weird combination. If they manage to make a halfway decent Diablo clone with half the personality and creativity of their other games, I will be super happy.
The Sims Medieval (March 22) Honestly, I still think this is a joke. This can't be a real game, right? It's the Sims, infected by the bubonic plague and covered in shit, with quests and magic and kingdom building and crafting and diplomacy. Part of me wants this confusing mess to become something really unexpectedly unique and cool, but then that same part of me wanted the Sims 3 to have genuinely interesting AI that developed meaningful interactions with the world around it.
Who knows what the end result will be, but I'll probably buy this just to experience the weirdness firsthand.
Portal 2 (April 19) How will the brilliant pacing of the original change (if at all) in the transition to a fully-fledged standalone game? That's the only possible concern I have for this game, but I don't doubt Valve's ability to pull anything off, nor do I think Erik and Chet whiffing on a proper tone for each section.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (April) People have criticized the gameplay videos, noting that enemies stay in the open and shoot instead of hiding behind cover. At this time, I would like to plead the developers to make 100% of all fights play out like this.
Cover-based shooting has a certain appeal when done right, but now it's an industry standard. At this point, it will actually be refreshing to get into a hectic shootout with twelve dudes, running around like a lunatic. I don't care if the enemy's reactions aren't logical - I care that they are consistent within the game. As long as the end result is fun (not balanced, by the way, screw balance) I will be happy.
It doesn't hurt that Deus Ex is still one of my favorite games, and that at the very least this seems to take inspiration from that classic while setting out to create a new aesthetic.
Star Wars Kinect (December 31) I know, Star Wars games are shit. A Star Wars game built around a peripheral will likely be shit squared. I don't care. I'm going to hope that this thing goes all-out in its attempts to be fun.
Don't give us a story or realistic graphics. Give us a bunch of cool things to use force powers on, with NO force-immune enemies. I want to deflect blasters manually, force push crowds of Stormtroopers with a sweeping gesture, and pull a frozen lightsaber toward me while hanging upside down.
You bastards better make a game that could be called Star Wars Episodes 4-6: The Amusement Park Ride.
Diablo III (Q4 2011 or Q1 2018) I just want to be a Necromancer again. It doesn't matter what he looks like or what he's called. I want to summon a million things to fight for me as I stroll in their wake, collecting loot and occasionally blowing something's guts up or casting a spell to make my minions chew through enemies faster.
Back To The Future: It's About Time
Do you like Huey Lewis and The News? 8/10
Dead Rising 2: Case West
Like Case Zero but twice as expensive, with ten times as many annoying dudes shooting guns at you, a location that's half as interesting; balanced out by 100% more Segways and Frank West, now with ten times the chest hair. 7/10
A World Of Keflings
Either the most relaxing or pointless resource-centric strategy game you'll ever play - sometimes both at the same time. 4 or 8/10
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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