6 Games You Should Be Playing in 2011
Just as quickly as it came, the year 2010 is almost gone and so concludes another year of video games. Basically the last major holiday launch will happen tomorrow with Black Ops and if you're anything like me, you have a proverbial mountain of games that you still want to play. Regardless of what games you still have left on your plate, it's never too early to start looking at the future so here are 6 games that you should definitely keep an eye out for when they are released next year. Just a quick note, I'm only sticking to games (sorry 3DS!) and they have to be announced for next year specifically (sorry again Mass Effect 3 and MGS: Rising!).
Even though Isaac's time aboard the Ishimura is history, look for the cramped spaces to return.
What I consider to be one of the better sleeper hits of our current generation, Dead Space 2 is finally going to see the light of day in January of 2011. The first game ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger so it'll be exciting to see the story continued. Footage shown of the game certainly looks promising as it seems that the eerie and unsettling atmosphere remains intact. They even managed to stick multiplayer into it and it actually seems like a fun take on the series akin to Left 4 Dead's Versus mode. DS2 has had a lengthy dev-cycle so it can only be hoped that it avoids the classic burden of "sequelitis" and remains a fresh take on the quickly dying survival-horror genre.
"What are ya waitin for, Christmas?"
Hail to the king, baby! After being the butt of jokes within the video game industry for the past decade, the Duke is finally returning to PS3, 360, and PC next year. Sure it's been a long time coming, but I think a game like Duke Nukem Forever has a perfect niche to fit itself in nowadays. We're already bombarded with a plethora of shooting games and they all revolve around the same basic experiences. A great analogy is the summer movies that we see in today's day and age. The younger generations have accepted names like Harry Potter or Transformers as the heavy hitting "action" franchises they grew up with, much akin to Call of Duty and Halo in relation to video games. However, The Expendables reminded us how awesome action movies used to be and it was able to stand out on its own as a neat fusion of old school principles combined with new school effects. Look for the Duke to remind us of older times and to show us while he's still the king.
Hopefully Link's next outing will fare better than Samus's
It's been four long years since the last console Zelda game and that wasn't even technically one that was geared towards the Wii. All the major Nintendo players have made their splash on the Wii, so now it's Link's turn to show up and make some noise of his own with Skyward Sword. I know that the E3 demo was shaky at best, but numerous reports from the show floor insisted that the game itself played just fine. I thought the fusion of Wind Waker –styled cel shading combined with realistically proportioned characters gave SS a fresh look that also retained its familiarity. Nintendo has been pretty hush-hush since it unveiled Skyward Sword at E3, so it'll be interesting what sort of hype-campaign that get started up once this gets closer to release. Regardless of all the grumbles the internet is capable of producing in unison, Nintendo hasn't released a console Zelda game that wasn't brilliant in the past decade, so I see no reason why this will be any different.
Much akin to the Mass Effect games, Hawke (above) will be fully voiced and can be either male or female.
I'm a huge BioWare fan, so I was excited to play Dragon Age Origins when it arrived last year. It was vintage BioWare with its solid gameplay, excellent voice acting, and a great story filled with memorable characters. Problem was that a lot of its periphery systems were either broken or felt miserably outdated. Now I played it on my 360 and I've heard that it's far superior on the PC, but BioWare has made it clear that they wanted a streamlined and equal experience across all platforms. All indications are that they've done just that as Dragon Age II looks like a completely different game. Things such as improved visuals, more visceral combat, and a major revamp of the UI are all extremely welcomed. The thing I find most appealing is the move to a more Mass Effect styled protagonist as opposed to the antiquated notion of a voiceless character who talks through numbered menu choices. If they're able to make good on all the promises that they've put forth, then this will be a heavy hitter when it's released in early March of next year.
Dual-countering is going to be a much welcomed addition to Batman's arsenal.
Arkham Asylum was arguably the best game based on a superhero ever and it looks like Rocksteady is ready to raise the bar once again. The decision to take the story off the island of Arkham and into Gotham City while instituting a more sandbox approach sounds like it'll be a blast. This is a perfect example of a game that just needs to refine its formula. With such a solid foundation to build on and a nearly endless universe from which to add villains and such, Arkham City has a chance to be one of those games that stand out as a complete and memorable experience. If the rumors about a possible co-op mechanic turn out to be true, then the hype meter will probably be cranked up to about 11 for this one. Make sure you keep an ear to the ground and get ready for the Bat to return sometime in 2011.
Apparently all of Delta Squad lost their sleeves since Gears of War 2.
With Halo spearheading the sales assault for Microsoft in both 2009 and 2010, it's time for the boys of Delta Squad to take center stage once again in 2011. Originally touted for an April 2011 release, Gears 3 will now land sometime in the holiday window of 2011 placing it about three years after GoW2. Epic has been trickling out all sorts of tidbits about changes they're making and they all sound like they'll make this the best Gears yet. Four player co-op is one of the headlining additions and it'll certainly make a lot of fanboys happy. The thing I'm most excited for is the revision of the multiplayer on both the technical and competitive side. I love the Gears games and I love the amount of tension and excitement that the multiplayer side of things can offer, but both games suffered from poor hosting and just general randomness. Well the addition of dedicated servers should remedy any host-associated problems as will a public beta that's taking place sometime early next year. The final game for Marcus and the boys will no doubt be a spectacle when it drops in about a year.
Starting in the coming weeks, don't forget to start checking in for our Best and Worst of 2010 where we'll start to highlight the highs and lows of the gaming industry in 2010 before we conclude with the top 10 games of the year!