2010 is here. The future is now. Despite predictions of strapping into virtual reality from your floating flat on the moon, not coming true, we are still ploughing ahead with gaming technological advances.
This year, despite having a console which runs the most powerful chip in the world (PS3), one which responds to movement (Wii), and another which sells for less than a grand despite being built by Bill Gates (Xbox 360) - some of the best new games this year are not actually that new. Sequels are going to be big. Like our grand pappy used to say, "If it ain't broke..."
The games: Halo: Reach, God Of War 3, Bioshock 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Final Fantasy XIII.
Halo: Reach – Summer 2010
What is it? Hello Halo. Fanboys, geeks and nerds worldwide are sculpting their Master Chief outfits from papier-mâché in preparation for this one. This is a prequel to Halo and sees you take control of ‘Lieutenant’ in a squad of SPARTAN super soldiers. Presumably this is the Master Chief before everybody else got killed – a promising start.
What’s new? This is a first-person shooter version of Halo which is instant underwear osmosis just at the thought. There is talk of a new rifle, a new needle-firing carbine and a new HUD which displays your team mates and their health also (maybe a chance to order or even control the squad as an option). The graphics, somehow, have gotten even better. This is going to be movie-release big.
What’s bad? It’s Halo’s first outing as a prequel so the adaption has a chance at failing. But, who really believes that is possible from the makers of one of the world’s most popular gaming series?
Verdict: New guns, a new view while shooting them, AND imagine wielding the energy sword in first-person. We can’t wait.
God Of War 3 – March 2010
What is it? Kratos, the fallen God of War is back under your control and this time he’s pissed. He’s always pissed. But this time he’s taking his rage, Cestus (chained swords), bow, gauntlets (firey gloves) and a gang of Titans (think a giant but ten times bigger) to destroy Zeus and the Gods.
What’s new? How about riding a Cyclops? Give him a beating then hop on his back to assert yourself, or finish him off, and while mashing his grey matter his flailing arms will knock any would-be attackers nearby onto their rears.
The fire bow is back but this time, after 10 shots, it recharges quickly making it an unlimited resource. Very useful for taking out mini-bosses (not so mini) in one-on-one fights.
Because of the power of PS3, the creators are promising much more environmental interaction. This translates to you being able to punch through walls.
What’s bad? More of the same. Better graphics, varied weapons, different enemies BUT it’s still the same game with a more epic story. If you liked the other game, which most people did, the fact that this is a sequel won’t be a bad point.
Verdict: We’re excited. None of the God of War series has been a let down. That, coupled with the fact the makers are claiming this is the last in the series, leaves us itching to own it, but a little apprehensive about playing it and then having no more for the rest of time. Oh well, we can always just start again.
Bioshock 2 – February 9
What is it? OMG. FYI, if you don’t know, it’s only the sequel to the Best Game of The Year 2008 from the Las Vegas Spike TV awards. This time it’s ten years later on New Year’s Eve 1970 and the city of Rapture is under new control of Sofia Lamb and her cult followers. She has created an army of Big Sisters who police the city as well as abducting little girls to make more enforcers. Fear not, all of a sudden the very first prototype Big Daddy awakes and decides to take action against her. That’s you.
What’s new? You control a Big Daddy, meaning a giant drill for an arm with a rivet gun. But you’re special as you also control plasmids – the genetic augmentation that allow you to shoot fire, exercise telekinesis, control enemies and the list goes on.
One of the best points about Bioshock, other than the story, was its amazing visuals – specifically of water. So, to hear that you are able to go outside Rapture and walk about on the seabed is very exciting stuff. Having a gunfight, on an ocean floor, against a giant robot. This can’t be anything but brilliant.
The multiplayer game is a totally different concept where you take control of a Rapture citizen in 1959, a year before the original, in a civil war. Chose a side, load up on plasmids and start your uprising… or dictatorship.
What’s bad? It would be easy to use the old, "it’s a repeat with a few variations”, but because this was such a beautifully crafted story with immersive imagery, there is no way we don’t want to go back to that world. So, until proven otherwise, there’s no bad.
Verdict: Can’t. Bloody. Wait. THIS is what the Kevin Costner flop Waterworld should have been like.
Splinter Cell: Conviction – February 23
What is it? Tom Clancy, creator and purveyor of all things ‘killy’ has done it again. Protagonist, Sam Fisher is back and he’s gone rogue after discovering his daughter’s death wasn’t an accident. OMG. Cue the usual hunt for revenge that leads to a bigger plot that leads to saving the world that leads to a big happy Hollywood ending. But it’s the killing along the way that’s important.
What’s new? The ability to interrogate people in real time, while using the surroundings as a weapon against them is damn cool. The surroundings are also used to display mission objectives and key plot points so you never feel out of the game narrative. And you really wouldn’t want to leave with two new tactical developments.
The first is Last Known Position, which displays a silhouette from a guard after you alert him to show where he thinks you are, allowing you to out flank him. And kill him. Or whatever you wish to do while behind the gent.
The second is Mark And Execute, where you are able to mark multiple targets and take them out, in order of importance, when they burst in the room. It also means you can set a target then aim to shoot out a light knowing the target will be shot right after. Exquisite murder.
What’s bad? This is not a pickup and play game. The controls are far from intuitive and take genuine practise to master – but then that’s like real killing. Probably. So we’ve been told. By someone. In a dream. Which never happened…
Verdict: If you’re a fan of the series then rush out and buy it. If you like Metal Gear Solid then go out and buy it. If you enjoyed Batman: Arkham Asylum then go out and buy it. If you don’t like shooting things you should own a Wii.
Final Fantasy XIII – March 9
What is it? Only the biggest RPG game ever that totally redefined the genre. That and the biggest selling game ever in Japan. The plot is a complicated tale about Gods called fal’Cies controlling l’Ices who do their bidding (and are killed if they fail) on a planet called Pulse. When a few inhabitants of Cocoon, a blissful floating island created by a good fal’Cie, venture down to Pulse they are ordered to destroy their homeland or die. With the help of giant beasts at you beck and call, you must defend your land or die trying.
What’s new? Another Final Fantasy, another epic story with near endless depths. The new can be found in the fights. You now gain control of just one character out of a party up to three in number. Attacks are placed into slots so that even when the ATB power gauge has run out you can still have moves lined up ready for combos to be executed – leading to a better flowing fighting system. Another new technique called Paradigm Shift allows you to shift characters statuses between attack and defence mid-fight.
All this means the action in the game is better, while still including the graphical power and storage space of the mighty next-gen consoles. So you really are living in the epic. Goodbye life.
What’s bad? This is the biggest RPG ever. It may suffer the problem of being too big and too long. But if you like this – which is more than likely – you probably wouldn’t think so.
Verdict: Once the boxset of The Wire you got for Christmas is all done, this will fill your spare time with plenty of hours of reality-evading gameplay.
That's 2010 planned but what went before? Check out the list of 100 Greatest Games of All Time HERE.