The gaming year got off to a wild start with huge hits like Mass Effect 2, God of War 3 and Heavy Rain all coming out within the first three months. But don’t expect the avalanche of quality releases to slow down in the second quarter of 2010, writes TechCentral entertainment critic Lance Harris.
It’s crammed full of quality games that Hollywood execs will no doubt blame for keeping people out of cinemas as movie blockbuster season kicks off. Long-awaited titles such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction and Alan Wake are finally hitting the shelves, and are likely to sell millions of copies.
There are plenty of potential sleepers on the release schedule, too. Titles coming out this quarter are as diverse as Electronic Arts’s extreme sports game, Skate 3; racing games such as Mod-Nation Racers and Blur; and quirky Japanese role-playing and action games such as Nier and 3D Dot Games Heroes.
What would any year be without the inevitable updates of the Fifa and Madden sports games from Electronic Arts Sports? Ahead of the World Cup, EA is bringing out a special new iteration of its Fifa football game for just about every gaming platform in existence.
The game features all of the 2010 World Cup’s 199 qualifying-round national teams and all 10 SA event stadiums. In addition to the usual tweaks and visual refinements, the game will boast an online World Cup Mode and an optional simplified control scheme for novice players.
Release date: 30 April
Platforms: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii
Remedy Entertainment’s visually impressive action-horror game, announced a full five years ago, is finally set to be released in May this year as a Microsoft-published Xbox 360 exclusive. Alan Wake is a mix of third-person action and cinematic storytelling that borrows heavily from Stephen King, Lost, Twin Peaks and other pop-culture touchstones. The stunning, recently released trailer below convinces me that this game will feature as high on critics’ best-of-the-year lists as Remedy’s Max Payne 1 and 2 did in the years they were released.
Release date: 14 May
Platforms: Xbox 360
Obsidian Entertainment, the developer of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2, leaves behind space opera and high fantasy in favour of a contemporary espionage setting for its new action role-playing game, Alpha Protocol.
Judging from gameplay footage, Alpha Protocol will play similarly to Bioware’s Mass Effect games, with a similar mix of dialogue, character development and action. Though the voice acting and visual polish of Alpha Protocol’s don’t appear to be quite on the same level as those of Mass Effect 2, Obsidian has always known how to craft a good story.
Release date: June
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
Rico Rodriguez, the CIA troublemaker of Just Cause, is back to unseat an unsavoury dictatorship in another third-world country. This time, his playground of destruction is a fictional island nation off the coast of South-East Asia. One of the most enjoyable and best-looking open-world games I’ve played this console generation, Just Cause 2 is overstuffed with content.
There are dozens of varied missions to playthrough, thousands of collectibles to hunt down, and a vast selection of vehicles and weapons to play around with. The game is set apart from others in the genre by the array of stunts and combat moves that Rico can pull off using his grappling hook and parachute combination.
Release date: Out now
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows PC
Capcom’s Lost Planet was a polarising game that some loved for the same reason others hated it: its unrelentingly tough and old-school shoot-em-up gameplay. The sequel to the third-person shooter appears to have made few changes to the core gameplay, but adds split-screen and online four-player cooperative play into the mix. In addition to the campaign, the game also features an online competitive multiplayer mode.
Release date: Late May or early June
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Windows PC to follow later in 2010)
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the first Metal Gear game for the PSP to be directed personally by the franchise’s creator, Hideo Kojima. It’s positioned as a full Metal Gear Solid experience on a mobile platform — that means it will follow the traditional formula of stealth-based infiltration, crazy boss fights, sharp visuals and exposition-heavy cut-scenes. For the first time in the series, Peace Walker features cooperative multiplayer.
Release date: 4 June
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
The new Prince of Persia game will debut just as the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time movie with Jake Gyllenhaal opens on cinema screens worldwide. But rest easy. Despite the timing, Forgotten Sands is a proper Prince of Persia game rather than a quickly cobbled together movie tie-in.
Forgotten Sands goes back to the Arabian Nights look-and-feel of the Sands of Time game, leaving behind the cell-shaded visuals and wisecracking Prince of the last game in the series. Expect a blend of sword-fighting action, tricky platform navigation and tough environmental puzzles that will please fans alienated by the last game in the series.
Release date: Mid-May
Platforms: PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Windows PC
Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar Games has hyped this Wild West sandbox game from its San Diego studio as the most ambitious and important Rockstar game since Grand Theft Auto IV. It’s a mature and gritty take on the old West that seems to owe much to Sam Peckinpah, Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone.
With horseback chases, high-noon shootouts, gambling, hunting, stagecoach and bank robberies, cattle herding, bounty hunting and countless other missions and mini-games, it’s aiming to be the definitive Western game. The multiplayer and singe-player modes have both received positive coverage in previews.
Release date: 21 May
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy is one of the most critically-acclaimed games of the present console generation, and has sold about 9m copies worldwide. The sequel won’t make any dramatic changes to the 3D platforming gameplay, though there will be new power-ups to use and all-new levels to explore. It’s likely to be every bit as polished and accomplished as every mainline Mario game that Nintendo has ever produced.
Release date: 11 June (Europe and SA release dates to be confirmed)
- Release dates subject to change