To start us off, Mass Effect 2.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Expected: 26th January 2010 (NA), 29th January 2010 (EU)
Originally published on the 360 in 2007 and later ported to the PC in 2008, ME2 continues the story of Commander John Shepard, the sole human Spectre who, after saving the galaxy in the first game, has to somehow do it again in the sequel but in a much more badass way.
I only just finished the original on the PC a few days ago but it had BioWare written all over it. Attention to detail everywhere; a believable futuristic universe; more quests and side-quests than you could shake a stick it, and an in-depth class and party system to keep you tinkering away for hours. I thought the original had an excellent story that will hopefully be built upon in the sequel (and, by extension, the final part of the trilogy) as well as engaging action sequences in a very well-defined universe.
ME2 cannot come along soon enough for me, and fortunately there isn't much longer to wait. Expect ME2 to be a smash hit, and give thanks to EA and BioWare for the simultaneous 360/PC release.
Star Trek Online
Developer: Cryptic Studios
Expected: 2nd February 2010 (NA), 5th February 2010 (EU)
How many ears does a Vulcan have? Three - the left ear, the right ear and the final frontier. Yes, bad jokes can only mean that STO, after lingering in development hell for years and going through a couple of developers, is finally expected to hit stores this coming February.
Cryptic, themselves no slouches at developing award-winning MMOs with City of Heroes, City of Villains and Champions Online under their belts, accepted the mantle of trying to bring the iconic sci-fi show to the gaming world following the collapse of Perpetual Entertainment, the previous licensee.
Every player is the "Captain" of their own ship and can advance in rank from Lieutenant (Junior Grade) all the way through to Admiral, unlocking new ships and hull configurations as they go. Space combat looks interesting and very action-oriented, but the "Away Team" portion of the game seems a little lacklustre. Hopefully Cryptic can dot their "i's" and cross their "t's" before the launch in February or nerds everywhere will arise from their chairs (possibly with help), Hot Pockets in one hand and Milky Ways in the other, screaming murder for not having been delivered the experience they were promised, as well as castigating the developers for using Type L phasers on Federation ships when everyone knows that they actually use Type R.
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Rage is an FPS set in a near-future dystopian world in which the world is struck by an asteroid which leads to global devastation. On first look it seems to be Fallout 3 crossed with the Mad Max films crossed with Borderlands, and that's got to be an interesting setup in anyone's book.
id are of course famous for creating Quake and Doom and are a strong supporter of the PC, so I am expecting great things to come of Rage. Vehicular combat will an emphasis of the game (hopefully done a little better than it was in Borderlands) and it has been confirmed that you will be able to upgrade your car with various components and addons, and by winning prize money from entering your car in desert races.
Details are still sketchy but Rage should hopefully be hitting the PC (as well as PS3 and 360) sometime in 2010.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
Since WoW already makes Blizzard more money than sin, it was only natural for another expansion to be cranked out sooner rather than later. Following The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm is set to be the third expansion pack to the original World of Warcraft, and will be the first to not introduce a new land mass into the game. Instead, Blizzard are re-invigorating all of original WoW world, changing parts of some zones, separating large zones into smaller zones, and introducing two new playable races. The Alliance get Worgen (who are absolutely not werewolves) and the Horde receive Goblins. New quests, new race/class combinations, new raids, new dungeons. Sounds like WoW all right.
Expect the relationship destroyer to surface sometime around mid-to-late 2010.
APB (All Points Bulletin)
Developer: Realtime Worlds
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Expected: Spring 2010
APB is an upcoming subscription-fee-less cops vs. robbers MMO in which criminals act like criminals and "enforcers" (police) try to stop them being criminals. The game features a dynamic matchmaking system that will pit enforcers against scofflaws in a traditional FPS setting. There can be thousands of players on a server, but each "district" is limited to 100 players total (50 v 50) as you duke it out. APB uses some clever music trickery (powered by last.fm) that will let you save a signature piece of music (just a few seconds long) that will be played to anyone whenever you kill them, and if you are cruising around in your new ride and have some music playing, people around you will be able to hear what you are blaring out. last.fm's technology will select something similar in style and theme on other people's PCs to play for them if they do not have the exact same track as you.
No subscription fee and a novel setting for an MMO make this one to watch, with an early 2010 release anticipated.
Stay tuned for another upcoming post with part 2 of my selections for games to watch out for in 2010.