2009: A Year In Preview

“Another day older, deeper in debt.”

No longer a lyric to a song but a mantra I use on a daily basis both as a father and a gamer. This year, especially, was strong with wallet-crushing games beating us left and right like Muhammad Ali in his prime. Like 2007, I doubt I’ll ever really catch up with the games I’m missing out on, but I have hope like any broke gamer.

But with 2008 firmly in the can, it’s time to look forward to 2009, and I’ve decided to compile a list of games coming in 2009 that I’m very much looking forward to. I hope you enjoy it!


You’d think after the brutality of Ghostbusters 2, I would have given up on the idea of this as a viable franchise. But at heart I am an optimist, and frankly what I have seen so far has been geekgasm inducing. Hope is a big part of being a gamer: Since marketing will push out screen shots and videos that have been meticulously put together to give the game its best foot forward, all you can do is hope the hype lives up to the video.

So far everything I’ve seen on this game has made me more excited about it. The entire cast is back, the script was co-written by Dan Akroyd himself (Which could be a good or bad thing), and Atari has picked it up and it will be coming very soon.

Of course I’m still reserving judgment, but nothing would make me happier to hum that crazy stupid song and bust some ghosts. Who ya gonna call? Why, Cooper Hawkes, of course.

Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

One of my biggest disappointments with Xbox 360’s backwards compatibility was its lack of Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bayon its list. The game was spoken to me with hushed reverent tones that made me want the game more and more. One of the reasons I was holding onto my original Xbox was because I had hoped to grab a copy of it at some point. When Starbreeze announced a next-gen reworking with new levels and multiplayer, I couldn’t sell my original Xbox fast enough and patiently sat on my hands waiting for word.

The word now is: AWESOME LOOKING! The original game remastered, an additional 10 to 15 hour expansion pack built in, multiplayer. This game is going to be more badass than the guy who walked between the World Trade Center towers on a wire.


Vin Diesel man-crush? Hardly, but the man spearheaded the original Chronicles of Riddick, so that alone gives me good reason to hope that the dude knows gaming. The idea is also interesting: Take Burnout, throw in some GTA-style plot and intrigue, and leave logic at the door. You’re a hired wheelman whose only job is to got something from Point A to Point B. How you do it is up to you. I deeply love the idea behind it, and I’m silently praying that Tigon Studios pulls this off. Sadly, the biggest thing holding this game back right now is its publisher: Midway Studios.

This is Vegas

I’ve got a thing for Vegas. Can’t explain it, and sometimes things in life have no real explanation, you just know what feels good and what doesn’t. This also explains scat as a form of porn, but that’s another topic.

The gist is GTA in Vegas, but the end result is you running your own casino, so I liken it more to GTA meets Martin Scorsese’s Casino. I’m not saying this is an instant-buy game — just that I’m watching it and willing to give it a try since the subject matter and idea is a pretty cool one.

Sadly, this is also a Midway-published game, so it’s hard to say if it’ll actually hit or if it’ll need to go to another studio first. We’ll see, I’ve got my eye on you, This is Vegas!

Call of Duty: (Insert fancy new title here)

I hate Activision. I despise their gaming ideal of beating a franchise till there’s nothing but a fine powder that catches the breeze and dissipates forever. However, I adore Infinity Ward, and Call of Duty 4 could easily be seen as its masterpiece of gaming. This in spite of a short single-player campaign. Time was that you could count on a good Star Trek movie by its even-numbered billing. With the Call of Duty franchise, this appears to be true as well.

Nothing is known yet about the game, though there are hints at it taking place in the future, which would be sad since that pretty much killed the Battlefieldseries. Whatever it is though, you know that Infinity Ward is putting its all into it and, Activision or not, I will be there.

Dante’s Inferno

I’m starting to warm up to EA again, sure they are a soulless corporate empire bent on taking my beloved gaming into something akin to those assholes who churn out those “satire” movies on a yearly basis, but every once in a while they surprise me. Dead Space was one of those surprises, taking a big risk on a new idea in new territory by reworking a well-oiled mechanic and trying to turn it on its head. The idea of a video game battling its way through hell isn’t a new one, but there’s something charmingly poetic about this attempt. Another of my mantras: “Games are art.” As this concept keeps getting closer to being the generally accepted one, games like Bioshock and Dante’s Inferno could be the thing that finally convinces others. Sure we know nothing about the game, but it’s still a ballsy type of game to make.

Bioshock 2

Regardless of how you felt about the ending of Bioshock, you have to admit the ride to that ending was a pretty damn fun one. It was beautiful, engaging and fun — exactly what a game should be. My love for the game is well known, so its sequel being on the list shouldn’t be a surprise. What is a surprise to me is that I’m not quite convinced on the game yet.

Call it jitters, call it my worry that Ken Levine was the glue on Bioshock and his absence will be felt, or call it my instinct that after something has such a strong start, how do you possibly improve it?

This year The Dark Knight proved to me that it is possible to take something new and wonderful and turn it into something extraordinary. But The Dark Knight had the benefit of the same group of people making it that made Batman Begins. While there are many original team members on Bioshock 2, it’s the lead that will dictate its direction.

I’ll wait and see of course, but as excited as I am about heading back “under the sea,” I’m very very cautious about it.


I loved Crackdown. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is the natural evolution of the sandbox-style game. Prototype looks to take Crackdown and three-up it. Open world, mutant powers, running around New York City. Oh, Prototype, you had me at mutant powers.

The videos so far have been a mishmash of interesting and ugh. I’m hoping that it’s the ugh stuff that caused the delay from 2008 to 2009 and that the little issues get worked out, because conceptually this game sounds pretty damn choice.

About the only thing going against this game? It’s published by Activision. My fear now is that it was held back not to fix the issues but to dumb it up and make it more accessable as a franchise.

Halo 3: ODST

Don’t stone me, hear me out.

Bungie is known for Halo, Halo 2, and Halo 3. Sure, they had some OTHER stuff before, but this is who they are right now. This title will be its swan song in the Halo universe and could also be a glimpse as to where it could be going.

Without Master Chief, Bungie has the opportunity to take the plot in new directions. Without shields and rechargeable health, it has a chance to try something it hasn’t done before. It’s Halo 3because it takes place in that universe, but the gameplay SHOULD be something completely different than what we are used to from Bungie and could give insight into the direction it is going to go now that it is independent.

Or it could be a pile of shit wrapped in a pretty red bow with a tag reading: “To Hawkes, Love Bungie, skullfuck that asshole!”

Different isn’t always better, but different evolves the gaming industry, and that I’m all for.

Heavy Rain

Quantic Dream did an impressive job last-gen with Indigo Prophecy, making a very good looking game that was fun and compelling. The story got a little “off-kilter,” but it was still an enjoyable fun ride. It’s next title is the PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain, and so far, graphically, the game looks awe inspiring.

Gameplay? We really know nothing yet, except for indications of some Quicktime events, which I hope are few and far between. But the game is another on the potential “games are art” argument list, and I’m silently and now loudly rooting for it.

God of War III

The first time you control Kratos you cannot help but feel like the biggest badass in the world. The man drips manliness the way water drips from a supermodel’s heaving breasts.

Wow, I went homo and heterosexual in a single sentence — where’s my brain today?

Anyway, God of War I, God of War II, and God of War: Chains of Olympus punches you in the balls with the might of a god, and yet you enjoy it all the more. The games are fun, exciting and addicting, and I expect nothing less from its PS3 premiere.

Beyond Good and Evil 2

DEAR GOD, if you haven’t played the first game please do so. Michel Ancel put himself into “could be a gaming legend” territory with this wonderful departure from the normal adventure/platform games you were seeing at the time. Fun, original, involving, other adjective here – this game was pretty damn awesome from beginning to end.

Now we have part 2 coming, and I couldn’t be happier. Prime yourself for this game, grab a copy for the PS2 if you still have one or have a PS3 with backwards compatibility. Or download it from Ubisoft’s store or something; it’s only like 10 bucks, and it’s the best 10 bucks you’ll spend, trust me.

Killzone 2

The game that launched a thousand fanboys into a fierce rage or salivating gimp. This game has the most infamous E3 trailer of all time to live up to, and being the lover of car accidents I find myself wondering if it has a chance of living up.

So far things are looking very good on that front. The look of the game is pretty damn close, though not quite as smooth as the trailer. This is the game that Sony wants to fight against Halo with, and with the amount of time they’ve had to hype and build it, it better damn well be!

And that brings me down to my three most anticipated games for 2009. Now, only one of them is confirmed to be releasing in 2009, but I feel pretty confident the other two will show themselves as well. We’ll do this list alphabetically:

Alan Wake

Remedy Studios made me smile a great deal when playing Max Payne. It was fun, it was intriguing, and it moved along at a really nice pace. The idea of this fine studio doing a Stephen King-style terror story gets my girdle all bunched up in that very pleasurable way.

The screen shots and video have just made it all the more exciting to me. A plot, an interesting set of characters, real tension — I felt like I was watching a movie trailer and not a game trailer. I’ve seen nothing of gameplay, but I suspect I do not know exactly where they are going with this game, and for that alone I love it.

There is no solid release date on this game, so I put it here as a hope more than anything else. I bought an Xbox 360 for two things: Mass Effect and Alan Wake. I’m hoping my second most anticipated game makes it this year.

Brutal Legend

Tim. Fucking. Schafer. That is all.

Okay, fine. How about this: The Dig, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts. Do you know those games? I challenge you to say one bad thing about ANY of them. Say something bad and mean it. Don’t just look to be contrary with me. About the only bad thing I can say about Tim and his games is that he doesn’t make them fast enough.

Brutal Legendis a heavy metal fable, and being a metal warrior myself, it’s too good to pass up. Voices by Jack Black, Lemmy, Rob Halford and Ronny James Dio only make it all the more palatable. It will come this year, and it will most likely be my game of the year unless Alan Wakemanages to gobsmack me or unless this next title completely makes me its bitch.

Mass Effect 2

Yes, I’m sure you’re surprised to see it on the list. So was I, frankly. I mean I’ve been pretty tepid about part 1 and felt that it was just THE MOST AWESOME FUCKING GAME ON THE XBOX 360!!!!

If Casey Hudson from Bioware reads this, I love you in a very, very manly way. That being said, if you were to tell me I could spend a weekend with review code of Mass Effect 2 and all it would take would be for me to blow the entire development team, well then, I say buy me a plane ticket and get me some lip balm.

Granted, Mass Effect, gameplay-wise, was not perfect, the potential for improvement was certainly there. But it was the story that kept me coming back. The characters were fully realized, I felt like I made some hard decisions, I took the losses personally, and relished the victories. A matter of tweaks here and there on the engine will fix the nagging issues, and two years is a good amount of time to do that. The story will be awesome because Bioware does story better than anyone.

It’s a mere coincidence that Mass Effectlanded at the top of my list. Really. Pinky swear!

So that’s what I’m looking forward to. Have a very happy and safe new year, everyone!


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