There aren't a whole lot of computer games I feel like playing right now. Sure, I can pick up some of my favorites like Fable 2 or Gears of War 2, but I'm ready for something new. Where is it?
Looking at release calendars, I found that none of the games I'm eagerly waiting for is that far off. This helps me feel better about gaming this year; I had been expecting 2009 to be a little dull.
Although I still believe that 2009's lineup is a little thin, there are three games I'm really looking forward to. More importantly, I believe that these three titles will help define gaming in 2009.
I still look back fondly at the days of Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!, so when I saw that Punch Out!! will be making its way to the Wii this year, I was overjoyed.
For our younger readers, a refresher: Punch Out!! is this generation's homage to Mike Tyson's cult classic on the NES, which, in my opinion, was the greatest boxing game of all-time. Punch Out!! on the Wii should provide that same rhythm-based control for boxing, which is the fun thing about the game (and the sport). Hopefully it will forgo over-the-top visuals and complicated controls and instead go for pure boxing fun.
Punch Out!! could be a defining game for the Wii this year. It gives the gaming industry the opportunity to see how old games, barely updated, can have an impact on today's generation. If successful, look for more old-school games to make their way to consoles. I'm hoping for a winner.
Release date: TBA 2009
Resident Evil 5
If you didn't love Resident Evil 4, you probably couldn't care less about the next iteration in the popular horror franchise. But as a devoted Resident Evil fan for years, I see nothing but good things coming from Capcom's latest.
Based on what we know so far, Resident Evil 5 will star Chris Redfield of past Resident Evil fame, who will need to fight for his life in "a sweltering desert colony" where a new range of zombies and other bad, bad beings are on the loose. Unlike its predecessor, the latest in the Resident Evil series won't be found on the Wii (Capcom wanted power this time around) and will only be made available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
It's easy to get excited about a Resident Evil game because, well, it's Resident Evil. But with titles like Dead Space trying desperately to take the horror franchise away from the original King of fear, I'm happy to see that a new title is hitting store shelves this year. And considering this version hasn't changed the control style much and that Capcom promises "bigger and better things" for 5, it's not outlandish to believe this title could be the best game of the year. I can't wait.
Release date: March 13, 2009
Killzone is Sony's hallmark first-person shooter franchise and the key to its success on the PS3. Price is a major issue for the platform, but with a solid Killzone 2, the chances of the console gaining ground in the market go way up.
Killzone 2 takes place two years after the Helghast assault on Vekta and sends the player on a mission to Helghan to capture its ruler and bring the war to an end. Once they get there, trouble starts and they need to fight their way out and find a way to cope with an enemy planet.
IGN has already given it a score--9.4--and other publications are falling in line, doling out high marks for the FPS, so there's no reason to suggest it shouldn't be a winner. But will it be so compelling that it will sell consoles?
That's Sony's hope and I can't blame its executives for feeling that way. In a time of high development costs and multiplatform game titles, it's the exclusive and first-party titles that will sell consoles. Microsoft has Halo, Nintendo has Mario, and Sony, for now at least, has Killzone. If Killzone 2 is as good as everyone hopes, it could be a major victory for Sony and maybe jump-start its idling console business. But if the title doesn't perform well in stores, I simply don't see any other game being released this year that can have a major impact on PlayStation 3 sales. Killzone 2 is that important.
Release date: February 27, 2009