That’s Entertainment

Just Cause 2 is likely to be bonkers. Looks pretty too.

We’re taking a (hopefully) short break from gazing endlessly into the past just to bring you a quick look into the future – or at least into 2010, any further would be crazy talk.

The next year is set to be more of the same, that is to say, great. 2010 is chock-a-block with cracking titles that could prove to be pretty trailblazing for the future and – even better – it all begins in January.

As Paul pointed out last week, Mass Effect 2 is out at the end of the month and could prove to be a monster hit. If I’m completely honest, Bioware’s enormously ambitious space opera hasn’t quite delivered. The story and characters have been decent enough, but the choices are largely redundant (at the moment) and the control system a little cumbersome. But the signs are good. Bioware has been talking up the changes they’ve made to the way the game plays, and that could be crucial; Mass Effect was surprisingly old-fashioned when it came to the combat sequences and was – at times at least – difficult to enjoy. If they can crack the control system though, this could be an early contender for game of the year.

In early February, Bioshock 2 should arrive and will probably sell like hot cakes, if those hot cakes are called Call of Duty Modern Warfare Cakes, and with good reason too; the first game was one of the highlights of the last half-decade. But while it’ll sell – there’s no doubt there – commentators are concerned that the developers are removing stuff that actually worked in the first game. Why, for example, has the excellent hacking system been replaced by a ‘real-time’ system? And why have the musical announcements from ammo dispensers or Gene Banks been abandoned? Tiny changes like that can ruin a game. There was even a piece in Rupert Murdoch’s hateful IGN last week that warned that in the first few hours, the developers used a particular lighting trick on three separate occasions. That’s not good; but expect a review on this very website as soon as one of us can be arsed to buy a copy.

Good news next: Call of Duty is back (probably)! Infinity Ward are unlikely to be on the case this year though, rumours suggest they’re busy trying to find a bank large enough to house their money, but Treyarch are. This is likely to mean that we’re not going to be seeing a Modern Warfare title (technically these titles aren’t “Call of Duty” related), so it’ll be at some point in the past. At a guess, it’ll be Vietnam because World War II titles are seriously running out of steam. Traditionally, Vietnam games are terrible so EDR doesn’t hold out much hope this’ll be any good, but it’ll sell well. Meanwhile, in EA towers, the Medal of Honour team is following Infinity Ward’s lead with the re-launch of that once-hallowed title. This could turn out to be a reasonably good thing, while MW2 was just a series of cinematic vignettes; the Medal of Honour games have always been less sugar coated. It takes place in modern Afghanistan so it needs to be handled sensitively. Fingers crossed then.

We should also be expecting Max Payne 3 and Alan Wake to hit the PC and consoles. The former was always going to turn up and looks like it might be pretty good – Max is now addicted to painkillers, which is awesome – and the latter is looking interesting, but no one has seen enough of it to comment. Our guess: Max Payne 3 appears first.

Massive money maker Halo also returns this year (again) with Halo: Reach, which is a continuation of Halo lore and takes place on the aforementioned planet. There’s quite a bit of information of this and apparently it’s good, but EDR refuses to get excited about endless sequels unless it’s Aliens Vs Predator, which does look splendid.

If you’re a Wii fan, this year could be pretty good because EDR favourite, Super Mario Galaxy is back and promises to be very good indeed, but it may also be worth watching out for Red Steel 2 because it might finally deliver the first-person goods.

In our view, RPGs are going to be dominated by three names, Mass Effect 2, Fable 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. We know the Fable 3 will probably be a key title for Microsoft’s new Project Natal system and will likely appear at the end of the year, but Fall Out: New Vegas is likely to be expanded upon and will dominate the airwaves for a while. EDR can also brazenly state that an Elder Scrolls MMO will be announced this year, although it won’t appear until 2011 at the very earliest.

Talking of MMOs, 2010 could be an interesting year seeing at 2009 wasn’t. First up is APB – something we’ve mentioned before – which promises to mix GTA with Crackdown and add a sprinkling of user-generated content. It’s completely mad, but the levels of game customisation could prove to be a winning formula and could even see the generation of entire sub-games like some sort of crazy Escher painting. Alternatively, Lego: Universe could stamp all over it when it comes to user generated content. The last game could be the Game of the Year if done properly.

WOW is back too, this time with Cataclysm. Not my cup of tea, but it does sound absolutely fascinating. Completely destroying the game and then brining it roaring back to life? That’s one way to recycle, I suppose.

No doubt 2010 will also see a lot of strategy developers talk up “doing something different” and then just do the same thing endlessly. This year keep an eye out for Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, Supreme Commander 2 and Starcraft 2, none of which will do anything different. Napoleon: Total War will be out by Christmas though, and that features short, angry French men. What could possibly go wrong?

Deep breath now – let’s all keep an eye out for Just Cause 2, Epic Mickey (although it’s looking a bit pants), Super Mario Galaxy 2, Crackdown 2, Heavy Rain, Mafia 2 and Red Dead Redemption – especially that last one, it could be the first truly awesome Wild West game. They all promise a lot and many of them could deliver.

Finally, what won’t be appearing? Well, EDR’s crystal ball says that we’re unlikely to hear from Rage this year because now that Bethesda own Id, it’s just too similar to the current crop of apocalyptic shooters – including Fallout. That’s a shame; Rage was looking like Id had finally got their mojo back, but that’s the way with corporate take-overs.

And what about Valve, eh? We wouldn’t be surprised to see that lot show up with something worth waiting for.

Anyway, have a good year everyone.

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