30 Most Wanted Games of 2009 – Part 2

The Thirty Most Wanted of 2009: #15 to #1

We’ve revealed #30 to #16 of our most anticipated games of 2009. Now we’re on to the big boys. We’re talking about the fifteen most wanted games of the year. Of course, there’s no absolute guarantee of quality and as journalists we need to be objective. It’s just that when we think about these games it makes us will time to move faster. The only reason we wrote this list was to pass the time while we wait, rocking on the edge of our seats and tapping imaginary buttons. Screw objectivity: we want these games and we want them now, and here’s our top 15 countdown telling you why.

Starcraft II

#15: Starcraft II (PC) Developer: Blizzard Publisher: Activision Blizzard Release Date: 2009 
Most Likely To: Turn South Korean nerds into celebrities

OK, so the Blizzcon announcement that Starcraft II is now a trilogy was not the best thing we could have heard, and the cynics among us have pointed the finger of blame firmly at Activision. Let’s not get carried away – this is still the ever-so-long-awaited sequel to one of the most beloved RTS games ever made. And it’s still Blizzard at the helm, a company that doesn’t make bad video games. Amazingly, despite the 10 year wait, there’s still a slight sense of ‘Starcraft 1.5’ about the embellishments being made to Starcraft II. Again, this is Blizzard and we think they’ve earned our faith.

#14: BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams (PS3/360/PC) Developer: 2K Marin Publisher: Take Two Interactive Release Date: Q2 09 
Most Likely To: Be the video game equivalent of Matrix Reloaded

We are very, very nervous about BioShock 2. The original was one of our favorite games of 2007, maybe even one of the best of the decade. It felt like a self-contained story; we got our closure and we’re happy with our memories of Rapture. So when Take Two announced they were making the inevitable sequel (which is actually a prequel), we found ourselves to be hesitant. We’re still in that stage of anxiety mixed with excitement, but if 2K Marin can produce a game that gets anywhere close to matching its predecessor then we’ll be more than happy to spend more time with our Big Daddy.

#13: I Am Alive (PS3/360/PC) Developer: Darkworks & Ubisoft Montreal Publisher: Ubisoft Release Date: Q2 09 
Most Likely To: Seriously divide opinion

This game is an unknown quantity at this stage, something underlined by the Ubisoft connection. Ubisoft have a habit of bringing out games that people really, really like or really, really hate and we have a sneaking suspicion I Am Alive could go the same way. It’s an action survival game where players will play a dude trying to make his way through Chicago, except that it’s been hit by the mother of all earthquakes. We know that there’s more to the plot than that, and Ubisoft have revealed there’s a more sinister mystery lurking underneath the natural disaster (not literally), but other than that we’re clueless. Still, right now I Am Alive is pretty distinctive in a year full of standard-fare sequels.

Uncharted 2

#12: Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3/360/PC) Developer: Rocksteady Studios Publisher: Eidos Interactive & Warner Bros. Interactive 
Release Date: 1 May 09 Most Likely To: Be the dark horse (or is that knight?) of 2009

This is a controversial selection to say the least. We’re aware that this is only Rocksteady’s second game in their history and that we’ve not seen much of it. Also, we’re more than aware that Batman games have a long history of sucking (post-16-bit era). Nonetheless, Arkham Asylum has got us interested… very interested. What we have seen via screenshots play excellently into the theme of the more sinister comic-book version of Batman now represented in the films. This appears to translate into the combat which looks to be much more fierce than we’ve come to expect of Batman games. The involvement of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill for voice work and Paul Dini, writer for Batman: The Animated Series, is also encouraging. Furthermore, this is separate from any of the films, giving the developers free reign to spin a story of their own choosing. We’ve got a hunch that this is the Batman game to right the wrongs of history.

#11: Halo Wars (360) Developer: Ensemble Studios Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios  Release Date: 3 Mar 09 
Most Likely To: Be mistakenly bought by noobs looking for a shooter

What’s most encouraging about Halo Wars is the effort Ensemble Studios have put in to ascertain from Bungie how to ensure it feels like an authentic part of the Halo universe — something that comes through particularly in the game’s audio and visuals. The gameplay is a different matter but the honesty Ensemble has shown by admitting they’re looking more to embellish console RTS mechanics rather than redefine them is heartening as well. The controls appear to be streamlined as required for the 360 with more emphasis on “managing a battle rather than watching it,” according to lead developer Graeme Devine. With the vast Halo community’s backing this could be the RTS game that breaks through the glass ceiling and establishes itself outside of the genre’s PC roots. It will be fascinating to find out.

#10: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) Developer: Naughty Dog Software Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment  Release Date: TBA 09 
Most Likely To: Make people glad they’ve got HD televisions

OK, so all we’ve seen is the Spike VGA trailer and the recently released screenshots. That was enough. The trailer reminded us how much we enjoyed the first Uncharted and in particular the 21st century Indiana Jones character of Nathan Drake. Then the screenshots reminded us how much we enjoy looking at pretty things. The definition and detail in Uncharted 2 looks absolutely amazing and it’s almost enough to make us wonder why we ever picked up a Wiimote. If Naughty Dog can refine the slightly underwhelming combat and platforming elements from the original and do more of the same with the story then Uncharted 2 could be one of the real winners for the PS3 in 2009.

God of War III

#9: Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (PC) Developer and Publisher: Valve Corporation Release Date: 3 Mar 09 
Most Likely To: Be the one game on this list that doesn’t come out this year

We waited for Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi’s end of year announcement. It was an announcement that never came. So, is Episode Three going to come out this year? What else are Valve doing in 2009; Portal 2? We know that Valve only release games when they’re ready, but we’ve been waiting for this one such an awful long time. That sheer will is enough to put it on this list even though its chances of a 2009 release are pretty much 50-50. What’s going to happen to Gordon and Alyx? Will they find the portal gun on that ship? Who the hell is the G-man? We need answers, dammit!

#8: God of War III (PS3) Developer: SCE Studios Santa Monica Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Release Date: Q4 09 
Most Likely To: Cause confusion when abbreviated

There are admittedly a lot of entries on this list where we know very little about the actual game. God of War III is another example where we’re really going on faith. After excursions into the worlds of LittleBigPlanet, Hot Shots Golf and a number of other PlayStation exclusives, Kratos’ return to the fold on a home console was announced at 2008’s E3. It’s unknown how involved ex-Sony employees David Jaffe and Cory Balrog, the two major sparks behind the previous God of War games, are with the project, and that could be telling in the game’s eventual quality. However, the Spike VGA trailer was suitably epic and we couldn’t be readier for more of the same on the PlayStation 3.

#7: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (PS3/360/PC) Developer: Infinity Ward Publisher: Activision Blizzard Release Date: 2009 
Most Likely To: Not be criticised for being more of the same

We liked World at War a lot, but it was no Call of Duty 4. It was always going to be hard to live up to one of the best games of 2007. So, when all we have is an announcement from Activision Blizzard last month stating that Modern Warfare 2’s on the way, that’s actually enough. Still, as eager as we are for more current day Call of Duty, we can’t help but think Activision Blizzard need to sort out their naming conventions. Seriously, in a few years time this is going to get as confusing as the Tom Clancy games.

Heavy Rain

#6: Heavy Rain: The Origami Killer (PS3) Developer: Quantic Dream Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Release Date: 2009 
Most Likely To: Feature as part of a Chocolate Rain parody

We could listen to Heavy Rain director David Cage talk all day about his upcoming psychological thriller. Heavy Rain has caught a lot of attention for its beautiful visuals and incredible motion capture, but we’re enticed by his description of an adult video game with a powerful story looking to break traditional gaming rules. In that respect it reminds us of 2008’s TGR Game of the Year Braid. Heavy Rain’s controls and in particular the QTE nature of conflicts do make it more accessible than Braid, but whether Heavy Rain is a masterpiece or a flawed experiment won’t be known until late 2009.

#5: Halo 3: ODST (360) Developer: Bungie Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Release Date: Fall 2009 
Most Likely To: Make us wish there was a Halo 4 being made.

Appearing on this list twice, the power of the Halo franchise is clear. While Halo Wars is a completely new genre for the series, ODST will be an expansion pack, at least according to Bungie employee and ex 1UP-er Luke Smith. What we know so far is that it’s set to take place during the events of Halo 2, players will take on the role of one of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (hence the name), and that’s it’s the last installment in the Halo trilogy. Maybe this isn’t the most exciting release of 2009 but it’s easily one of the most anticipated, and for that reason it’s coming in at number 5.

#4: Alan Wake (360) Developer: Remedy Entertainment Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Release Date: TBA 
Most Likely To: Not actually exist.

After two years of wondering what Remedy Entertainment were doing with Alan Wake and whether it had been cancelled, the long wait finally ended when we got a new trailer in October 2008. That’s gone a long way to reinvigorate our interest in this psychological action thriller from the makers of Max Payne. Happily, it’s looking to be as cinematic and atmospheric as that game was. However, 2008 has taught us to be cautious. The last long-awaited 360 exclusive, Too Human, was seen by many to be a huge disappointment. Can Remedy avoid failing to meet the hype of prolonged expectation?

Resident Evil 5

#3: Killzone 2 (PS3) Developer: Guerilla Games Publisher: SCEE Release Date: 27 Feb 09 
Most Likely To: Be used as weight in the fanboy wars.

Killzone was not the Halo killer. Killzone 2 will not be the Halo killer either, but the fact that it’s got so much attention after the first game’s less-than-favorable reception shows that the PS3 has a strong chance of having a shooter to match the 360’s mascot. The general outpouring from the beta has been very positive (although TGR’s own Stew Shearer was not impressed). Astoundingly the visuals look pretty close to the ones shown in that infamous E3 2005 trailer. The BBC referred to Killzone 2 as being “one of the most cinematic and immersive games ever produced on a console.” If that proves to be true, it could go a long way to turning ’round the fortunes of the PlayStation 3.

#2: Street Fighter IV (PS3/360/PC) Developer: Dimps/Capcom Publisher: Capcom Release Date: Feb 17 2009 (360/PS3) 
Most Likely To: Make us wish it was the early 90s all over again

We know that its high placment in this list has more to do with nostalgia than anything else. We know that a fighting game probably shouldn’t be so prominent when there are innovative new IPs like Heavy Rain and Alan Wake worthy of our attention. Yet we can’t deny that this next-generation evolution of the Street Fighter franchise has lured us in like lambs. Its stunning cel-shaded graphics, callbacks to Street Fighter II, and stubbornness to fully embrace 3D hooked us ages ago. Maybe we’re wrong to do so but we would be lying to ourselves and you, dear reader, if we placed it any lower than this.

#1: Resident Evil 5 (PS3/360) Developer & Publisher: Capcom Release Date: 13 Mar 09 
Most Likely To: Be the best-selling game of 2009

So much of the spotlight has been on RE5 for the wrong reasons, but we here at TheGameReviews choose to ignore it. When we compiled this list we trawled through gaming forum after gaming forum to see the titles people were talking about when looking forward to 2009. Almost every single post in one of these threads made mention of Resident Evil 5. It’s your most wanted game of 2009 and we’re pleased to say that the zombie-gunning co-op sequel to one of the best video games ever made is absolutely ours too. Let’s just hope it can live up to the hype.

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