Merry Christmas! We hope you got everything you wanted and some crud you didn’t. But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? No? Moving on.
Just because it’s Christmas Day (and Kovacs’ birthday – you may wish him happy birthday in the comments below, but please, no tears) - that doesn’t mean we’re stoping with our prophetic look into 2010 and the games we – at least hope – will be playing over the next twelve months.
Time to shake off those meat-sweats, here’s the next ten.
Fallout: New Vegas – Developer: Obsidian Entertainment | Publisher: Bethesda Softworks | Out: TBC
Never has a title won so many Game of the Year awards and yet split so many gamers down the middle than Fallout 3. Of course, some view Bethesda’s involvement as an indication that what we got in the latest Fallout game isn’t really Fallout at all. Let’s hope Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas placates these anal and hard to please people at least to some degree.
We actually know very little about Fallout: New Vegas and hence must extrapolate what the game will be like through inference and association. It’s a Fallout game so we assume it will be apocalyptic. And considering the involvement of RPG mavens Obsidian (creators of Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights as well as the upcoming spy-fest Alpha Protocol) we’re predicting it will be somewhat along the style of KOTOR. We could be way off, of course. It could be like Zelda for all we know. Kinda doubt it though.
Far Cry 3 - Developer: Ubisoft Montréal | Publisher: Ubisoft | Out: TBC
Another one from the vault of the unknown, all we know about Far Cry 3 is that it’s in development. Speaking to Wired back in August of 2008, designer Patrick Redding confirmed that there’s still more to explore on the Dark Continent though Africa may be replaced as a location next time with the frozen wilds of Antarctic. We get the impression he was kidding, though. At least, we hope he was.
Final Fantasy XIII - Developer: SquareEnix | Publisher: SquareEnix | Out: March 9th
Small title. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Nothing we can write here will do justice to the significance Final Fantasy has on the gaming world. So instead of going on about Lightning and summons etc., maybe a short discussion on the cultural impact Final Fantasy has on at least Japan is in order.
The last time I was in Japan Monster Hunter 2G Portable had just come out. It was a bizarre time with streets that were practically empty of people young and old. I only understood what was going on when a friend mentioned that most people were at home getting their game on – despite the title being portable! If you think that’s bad, when Final Fantasy XIII recently hit Japan on the 17th of this month, the country nearly shut down. With over 1.5 million sales in its first four days, from speaking to friends in Tokyo and Kyoto recently, kids are still pulling sickies to stay home and play it, with office absenteeism peculiarly high. Not that the bosses care. They’re at home with fantasy illnesses of their own.
When Final Fantasy XIII hits next March in other regions, the circle will be complete. Final Fantasy games may not be your bag (ironically, I’ve not played one since FFVII) but you at least have to acknowledge its phenomenal hold over the gaming masses. March can’t come sooner for some people.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII - Developer: SquareEnix | Publisher: SquareEnix | Out: TBC
If Final Fantasy XIII is the hot girl everyone wants to, you know, *ahem* take to the prom, Final Fantasy Versus XIII is her darker, sultry emo sister who not only doesn’t want to go to the prom, she wants you to help her burn the bloody thing down.
Developed concurrently with its brighter and more traditional stablemate, Versus, for some, is a more appealing and interesting prospect than what is seen as the safer and more legitimate XIII.
We don’t know much about the title other than mere snippets mentioned by SquareEnix’s Tetsuya Nomura. There’s crystals involved, and the battle-system will be a “realistic modified version of Kingdom Hearts’”. In terms of characters, we have the moody Nokutisu Rushisu Cheramu (Noctus in English) along with female protagonist Sutera Nokkusu Furūre (Stella Nox), their names roughly translating from Latin into Light and Darkness, respectively.
It’s all crazy blue spiked hair and gothic angst, but we love it nonetheless. Final Fantasy Versus XIII has yet to officially be given a release date. We’re assuming a late 2010 appearance is likely.
Final Fantasy XIV - Developer: SquareEnix | Publisher: SquareEnix | Out: TBC
Another megaton Sony managed to not let out of the bag before E3, numerous eyebrows were raised when Jack Tretton announced to the throng of gaming journalists present that Final Fantasy XIV will launch in 2010. Much akin to its XI cousin, XIV will be an MMO and promises to be big. So big in fact that SquareEnix CEO Yoichi Wada reckons the title will challenge the unflinching grip Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has on the genre. His recent comments also reveal how a subscription model for Final Fantasy XIV is something “a lot of people [...] want, so we would like to introduce more pay-as-you-use items into the game.”
A recent PC beta entry has launched with a PS3 early-look possible sometime in the first half of next year.
The game also returns to its fantasy roots with an assortment of races and classes you’d expect to find in your typical online persistent world. Some of these characters will still have blue hair though. Sorry, there’s just no escaping it.
Fist of the North Star/Dynasty Warriors spin-off – Hokuto Musō - Developer: Koei | Publisher: Koei | Out: TBC
You don’t know it yet, but you’re already dead. Fans of Fist of the North Star will recognise this quote as one of just bundles of fantastic one-liners from Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star outside of Japan). A post-apocalyptic tale of love, honour and some environmental nonsense we tuned out, to a young impressionable male who liked Japanese stuff and cool things in general, the Fist of the North Star anime was like Akira – except that it made sense and it had a guy who could make your head explode just by looking at you.
Hokuto Musō is a shameless visit to the popular North Star well and is apparently a Dynasty Warriors spin-off. Footage of the action shows the titular Man with Seven Wounds, Ken, and Fist of the North Star, stomping around beating the bejesus out of anything that moves. Works for us. That said, these titles rarely exude the quality they’re associated with, and it should be stated that there’s no news of a non-Japanese port at this minute. We mention it purely to bring it to your attention as we’re sure there are some fellow Fist fans out there somewhere.
Free Realms- Developer: SOE | Publisher: SOE | Out: TBC
Free Realms is SOE’s attempt to crack the lucrative tween market. With young people becoming increasingly computer literate at an early age, the area represents a whole new revenue stream along with an intriguingly fresh genre – the teeny-bopper MMO. If anything, such ventures offers studios a novel (and some might say insidious – get them while they’re young Sony!) way to connect with future gamers.
Free Realms’ PC incarnation launched this year to much aplomb. And though it might not be that interesting to the likes of us violence-obsessed gamers (we’re kidding … kinda), it has appealed to a whole host of young players who enjoy building a character and interacting with like-minded young people online.
A PS3 version was always planned, with details of an exact release date forever shrouded in mystery. It’s highly likely, however, that Free Realms will find its way on to the PS3 platform sometime in 2010. Who knows, maybe they’re waiting for Sony’s premium PSN service to launch first. Conspiracies in the comment section below, if you will.
God of War Collection - Developer: SCE Santa Monica / Bluepoint Games (port) | Publisher: SCE | Out: Q1 2010
So good they made it twice. The cynic in us first viewed God of War Collection – a HD remake of the first two God of War games repackaged and bundled as one Blu-ray – as a shameless ploy to milk the franchise on the run-up to the series’ third outing. It was only when we got a look of it in action did we finally admit just how much we actually wanted to play the PS2 classics all over again, and hey, it’s not like anyone is making you buy it.
God of War Collection was released in North America recently with Europeans getting their grubby hands on it early in 2010. There’s also a nifty Collectors’ box-set planned. But we won’t mention that. We’ve already crossed the line into fanboyism by admitting we’re going to buy games we’ve already played years ago.
God of War III – Developer: SCE Santa Monica | Publisher: SCE | Out: March 2010
Sony’s ace up their sleeve in the mindless console war, God of War III is set to melt eyes and cause divorces when it finally launches in March of next year. They don’t come much bigger than this, with most of us spending the last year or so gobbling up as much footage of Kratos’ upcoming epic as humanly possible.
With stunning graphics and relentless action, God of War III is sure to feature on many a wish-list come March.
Zeus will pay. We have no doubt about it.
Gran Turismo 5 - Developer: Polyphony Digital | Publisher: SCE | Out: Q2 2010
You either get Gran Turismo 5 or you don’t. There’s no doubt the series has been treated like a prized cow by Sony over the years (after all, it has sold oodles) yet there are those of us who just can’t wrap our collective heads around the fact that, for what promotes itself as a real driving simulator, as soon as you get out of the garage, certain aspects of real-life take something of a back-seat.
With crash damage finally making a long overdue appearance and fans of the series finally able to trade-up from precursor GT5 Prologue, Gran Turismo’s next outing represents the Second Coming to its fervent and loyal following.
The cars are gorgeous, with more tweaks and content available to keep petrol-heads in motor nirvana for eons to come. The tech behind the game is also incredibly dense, with an attention to detail by Kazunori Yamauichi and his team that’s borderline Rainman obsessive. In fact, the game has been in development for so long that, though they’ve created weather effects, they might not even include them if it “doesn’t add value or feel right.” That’s dedication for you. But the question is: can they possible live up to the fans’ mammoth expectations?
Make no mistake about it – Gran Turismo 5 is going to be massive. But after being in development for so long, will fans ultimately be happy? We find out in summer of next year.
Just a quick note to wish everyone a happy holiday. This series will continue up to the end of the year. Feel free to comment as always as, though this article wasn’t written on Christmas Day, we will check in to make sure everything is working as expected.