March 3rd, 2009

Way back in April of 2008 I made a post talking about some of the games I was most looking forward to in 2008. Later, in November, I made another post reflecting on that list, what I’d actually gotten to play, and what I my impressions. Right now is that time of year just before games start getting announced en masse; GDC is just a few weeks away, and E3 has been moved to June this year, up from July last year. There are some PC games that we’ve known about for a while now which will probably be coming out this year, so I think I’m ready to share my list for 2009 right now.

This time you're a dude who rides motorcycles.Dead Rising 2 (Capcom): Dude, what? On PC? Yes! If you hadn’t heard, Capcom announced that Dead Rising 2 will be a multiplatform release on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. If you’re in the dark on Dead Rising, it was an Xbox 360 exclusive (until recently, as it’s being ported to Wii) where players guided photojournalist Frank “I’ve covered wars, you know” West through a mall overrun by a zombie horde. Some of Dead Rising’s claims to fame were its unique save system, ever-ticking time limit and the fact that virtually everything you came across in the mall could be used as a weapon. The game was tons of fun and I am hoping they do not water down the experience by implementing something like a save-anywhere feature. I also hope that PC gamers don’t get treated like second-class customers by not getting the game at the same time as console players, not to mention a well-optimized port.

I just want to know where his shotgun is.Alpha Protocol (Obsidian Entertainment): What I know about this game is that it’s a third-person action role-playing game where you play as a CIA agent, presumably in the future. I know that it’s coming out for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Other than that, and the fact that Alpha Protocol is a tragically generic name, I know that it is being developed by Obsidian Entertainment. I do not know much else, but Obsidian is the same developer that made Star Wars: Knight of The Old Republic 2 and Neverwinter Nights 2. That’s all I really needed to know, why are we still talking? Done. Sign me up.

Missed.Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor (Relic Entertainment): Though I have been too timid to jump into any CoH multiplayer, I’ve enjoyed the single-player immensely. There’s little room for World War II games in my life anymore unless they’re outstanding, and Company of Heroes has fit the bill. The campaigns give a feeling reminiscent of the original Call of Duty, but translated to an RTS. They were a big deal for me when I played them last year. In fact, you may have detected a bit of CoH influence in our Team Fortress 2 unlocks comic series.

As CoH was an evolution of Dawn of War, so was Dawn of War II an evolution of CoH. Now the cycle has begun anew. Tales of Valor promises to move CoH a bit in the direction of where Relic has taken the recently released Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. Relic’s ever-refining formula would have players focus more on using small groups of units effectively and less on getting caught up with base-building, teching up, and mass-producing units.

We're not in Tatooine anymore.Rage (id Software): When he’s not trying to build rockets or oversee development of the browser-based-gaming revolution with Quake Live, John Carmack also writes game engines. Rage, id Software’s first new in-house developed game since Doom 3, will also be the first game utilizing id Tech 5. The engine’s code has been written from the ground-up and is being optimized for cross-platform development with the inclusion of the MegaTexture technology Carmack engineered for Splash Damage’s Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Rage (you know, the “game” part) is set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic world. Gameplay will include first-person shootering as well as a strong driving component which is said to be influenced by games like Burnout and MotorStorm. Rage is set to release on Windows, OS X, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

It looks like Baldur's Gate, but does it smell like Baldur's Gate?Dragon Age: Origins (BioWare): This game may be the one I’m looking forward to most of all this year. Dragon Age: Origins has been touted as the spiritual successor to Baldur’s Gate. Now, I’m sure most of you understand what kind of implications a statement like this has. With Baldur’s Gate being what is probably my most beloved game series ever, that’s a lot of weight to be throwing around. I would not have the doubts that I do were it not for the fact that Dragon Age is being developed not just for PC, but for consoles as well. We’ve seen in the past what kind of effect that can have on games that have traditionally been on PC. In a recent interview with GiantBomb.com (embedded below), Dan Tudge (best name ever?), executive producer for Dragon Age: Origins told Ryan Davis that the game wasn’t always planned to be on consoles, but as they got into development for the PC, they saw how it could work out on other platforms. I don’t know how much of that I’m willing to believe, but honestly, BioWare hasn’t let me down yet.

Though originally to be released in early 2009 with its console counterparts following later on, Electronic Arts and BioWare have decided to release all versions of Dragon Age: Origins simultaneously, sometime in the “last half of 2009″. BioWare stated that although the PC version was shaping up well, they’ll use the extra development time for additional quality assurance. They’ve also dropped hints that the PC version will include a little something extra for players being patient.


  1. I can’t agree with your optimism for Alpha Protocol. Obsidian has fallen a short on both KOTOR 2 and NWN2. Nevertheless, I am excited about it.

    I don’t see how you can even begin to think Carmack will ever make anything more than a tech demo. Rage is just the new Quake-engine demo for 2009.

    Big ups for mentioning Capcom and BioWare. They are clearly the developers to watch in 2009 (and probably for the rest of their run). Here’s hoping BioWare won’t be hindered by their assimilation by EA. I’ve always been skeptical since the financial failure of Black Isle.

  2. I seem to be one of the few people on the net that didn’t have big problems with KOTOR 2 or NWN 2. The biggest complaint that I remember circulating about KOTOR 2 was managing your party’s perception of your character. But I feel like this mechanic has always existed in CRPGs, it’s just that KOTOR 2 let you know about it.

    As for NWN 2, it did have a shaky launch with lots of bugs, but there was a great game underneath. The first patch or two cleaned it up nicely. I can’t speak to the quality of the expansions (I’ve been waiting for the franchise to be added to Steam), but everything I’ve heard from people who’ve stuck with the series have had good things to say (particularly Shawn “Certis” Andrich at Gamers With Jobs).

    As for Rage… well, maybe. I wouldn’t call it a “tech demo”, but I don’t expect it to deliver much in the way of gameplay innovation, despite this particular blending of genres being a fairly unexplored one. I did spend more time talking about tech than the gameplay… I had even more written about id Tech 5 than what I ended up publishing, hah. But I do think id games are fun, and I have an interest in game engines, so I’m excited for Rage. I also seem to be one of the few that didn’t have any major gripes about Doom 3 ;(

  3. Rage is quite a divergence from their past games. I’m not sure what to expect from it. Even if it is a great tech demo, that still has a significant impact on the industry and is worth mentioning.

    I don’t follow NWN2 very closely, but I remember a few different people talking about how much it’s improved since release.

  4. The patches have done a lot for NWN2. It doesn’t change the fact that the engine feels bloated. Story wise, NWN2 was pretty awesome actually. It’s the tech behind the game that I have issues with.

    KOTOR2 didn’t give me the same level of immersion. I think the game went too over the top (undeniable in the final boss fight).

    Obsidian clearly has talent, they have been always been a bit shaky. Plus, there’s nothing to fall back on this time. Alpha Protocol is their own entirely and not everyone is 100% their first time out of the gate.

    I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a single player experience from id since Quake 2 and how old was I back then?

  5. id games are kind of a different [older] style than what’s become popular. I feel they’d probably get a little more cred if they completely committed. Serious Sam and Painkiller, for example, commit to that old-school style.

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