Last year was a bumper crop for games, with enormous triple-A titles like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 finding their way onto our consoles in the final quarter of the year alone. Seemingly, there will be no let up in quality titles in 2010, with many in the industry predicting the start of this new decade to be the best year the videogaming industry has ever seen. With a cursory glance at the release schedule of Q1, it’s hard to put forward a decent argument against that. So what are you looking forward to the most? For me, there are two titles that stand out as particularly promising.
A recent playthrough of Quantic Dream’s Fahrenheit on the PS2 hints at David Cage’s genius. A game unlike anything I’ve ever played before, the clunky controls curtailed the flashes of frequent innovation within, but it is easy to look back on older generations with a sneer considering the rapid pace of technological advancement. Cage’s magnum opus, Heavy Rain, is due for release at the end of next month, and has been generating press for as long as I can remember. Its fans champion it as the ultimate narrative adventure, and footage of the game pitches it in the realm of ‘interactive movie’. Its detractors denounce it as a string of QTE setpieces. I got my hands on a very small sliver of the game at the Eurogamer Expo, and admittedly came away slightly disappointed. But if my First Impressions have taught me anything, it’s never to dismiss a game before giving it its chance to shine, particularly, in this case, when played out of context.
Whether Heavy Rain turns out to be a masterpiece or a false start, Cage should still be judged on what he is trying to achieve here. Faced with a sea of middleware mediocrity and numbing familiarity of ‘this button does this’, Heavy Rain strikes out into its own territory, where control of your character has context to what they are doing at that moment in time, just like in real life. I’m hoping Cage succeeds and Heavy Rain is a massive success, not just for the PS3 but for the industry as a whole. I’ll be picking it up on the day of release to find out. In the meantime, there is a fantastic, spine-tingling trailer here to whet your appetite.
Super Mario Galaxy 2
The original was a staggering work of art. With the slight dip in quality that was Sunshine, Mario’s proper debut on Wii was a tour de force, a reinvention of the magic introduced by the seminal Super Mario 64. Granted, my recent playthrough of gorgeous series’ throwback New Super Mario Bros. Wii has reignited my nostalgic passion for Nintendo’s mascot, and my current jaunt through Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story (review coming as soon as the final credits roll) is doing nothing to diminish that; but even without these reminders, Super Mario Galaxy 2 would still be one of my most anticipated titles of 2010.
From what I’ve read, the follow-up is just more of the same, and I couldn’t be more delighted. Nintendo already put in the legwork in 2007, introducing new ideas into the Mario mix whilst still retaining the platform mechanics that have been the mainstay of the series to date. Another ten hours of the same ideas, on different planets, with the added bonus of Yoshi, will be just fine thank you very much. I doubt we’ll see Super Mario Galaxy 2 until close to Christmas, so there is plenty of time for the big N to drip-feed us with tidbits to get excited over, but here are some early screenshots to start with.
What about you? Which games being released this year are you most excited about?