It's time to take a quick look at the year ahead of us in terms of gaming, whilst not exhaustive and certainly not in any particular order of preference - these are the 10 games that we at Games Xtreme are looking forward to in 2011.
Xbox 360, PS3
Team Bondi and Rockstar's collaboration on a darkly gritty crime drama, L.A. Noire should prove to be most interesting indeed. With titles like GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption under Rockstar's belt they have a pedigree in the open world sandbox game genre that's hard to beat. Now L.A. Noire slips onto the scene and promises a level of facial interaction that has to be seen to be believed, their tech demo and in-game footage is nothing short of incredible and the thought of being able to solve a crime by reading a perp's facial expression is something we're looking forward to. We should find out more about L.A. Noire soon as Rockstar continue to tease us with details.
The original Dead Space was a breath of fresh air in the science fiction horror game genre. It provided an interesting story with a silent protagonist and some truly twisted horrible creatures (the Necromorphs); it beat down Resident Evil 5 and whilst not being a truly scary game, contained enough action horror moments and downright twisted vile images to be considered disturbing. It was an awesome title in terms of control, gameplay and graphics with an amazing musical score and some creepy moments. I still can't get over my fear of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star thanks to this game's haunting rendition of it in some areas. Now Isaac Clarke is back and toting new weapons, dealing with the Necromorph menace and having full Zero-G movement to name but a few things. The best thing is that the game comes out this month and we can't wait!
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
We loved Portal, I raved over it. I completed it a couple of times and it spawned one of the best songs ever: Still Alive. It was a crazy breath of fresh air in the game puzzle space and the inclusion of the Portals themselves totally blew us away. Now Valve have shown off Portal 2 and promised even more awesomeness, seriously. With an expanded arsenal of tools and Portal effects along with some even more devious puzzles this is going to be THE Puzzle game of 2011. Couple this with the duo of cooperative Portal 2 robots that you play in the testing facility and the return of GLADoS and we seriously cannot wait to dive back into the twisted nightmare of Valve's best puzzle based creation yet.
When we saw this footage from E3 2010 we were absolutely blown away by the concept. Here was a proper futuristic shooter that didn't rely on lasers and aliens to get the job done. It was a tantalising glimpse of things to come in the Theatre of War and as information trickled out of Ubisoft relating to the game we got more and more interested. It promises a full cooperative campaign, which is a first for the Ghost Recon series and the graphics look excellent. There's a few nice touches like dripping blood through the upper floor which could alert enemies there's something up and the Ghosts have an active camo, allowing them to live up to their names. The game promises good team based AI and some clever tactical options with a remastered Cross-Com and weapon suite. There are shoulder mounted rocket launchers and modular weapons. No word yet about the multiplayer beyond co-operative but the beta is expected any time soon. Another game we can't wait to try out. For those of you worried that the camo will make it too easy, the enemy do have access to the same kind of tech that you do and they have thermal goggles - so you're still going to have to use tactics to deal with a lot of firefights.
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Bioware managed to make a pretty special game with Dragon Age, packed with content and full of many hours of play. Now they're back with Dragon Age 2, a kind of sequel and prequel that chronicles the rise of the Champion of Kirkwall (Hawke) and how he/she came to be who they are in the first place. The game takes place using a framed narrative, allowing the developers to tell a story across decades of time and use a quirky narration style that should be fun and engaging. Bioware has promised an upgraded combat system that stays true to the PC game roots and also promised that the console versions will be more immediate, suiting the console gameplay style a lot better. Personally we can't wait to get our hands on this game and dive back into Dragon Age's world once more. The game should also pick up on all your key decisions made through Dragon Age and provide changes to the world based on that, similar to Mass Effect 2.
There's not much detail out on this game but it promises to be a great sequel with an improved engine. Set in turbulent Skyrim and featuring the voice talents of Max Von Sydow in the trailer, we are seriously interested in seeing what this new game brings to the genre. What really draws us however is the talk of seriously improved animations, characters and the hiring of new talent to the development team. Plus, finally ditching the old engine for a new internally developed one - it's about time! We should find more information about the game come February.
Xbox 360, PS3, PC
We absolutely loved Arkham Asylum and the game kicked some serious ass in terms of graphics and control. It was the game that proved to us that taking a comic character to a game and making a great game, wasn't a myth. Arkham Asylum hit it right on so many levels it's a game I still go back and play over and over again. Packed with lots of Batman lore and information, it's just superb. Now this year we get to play around in a bigger game space with new gadgets, new villains and the promise of even more Freeflow Combat with extra combos and moves. Not only that but there's flickering rumours of some kind of multiplayer component and that it might just be cooperative. Personally we're hoping for some Batman and Catwoman team-up action across the main story. You know it makes sense.
Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception
Following on from Naughty Dog's massive hit, Uncharted 2...Drake's Deception reunites Drake with his buddy Victor Sullivan and promises to be even more incredible than the 2nd game. From the early footage and gameplay we've seen, Drake now has more immediate environmental puzzles to solve, better control, stealth based attacks where he can drop on an unsuspecting enemy from above. He has a new combat system that favours the pulp style of combat, with multiple enemy attacks and grapples so that Drake can now fight his way out of being grabbed by attacking nearby enemies. There are new traversal moves and we're promised even more amazing things to come to light in the months that follow. Coupled with the fact that Naughty Dog created some great multiplayer with Uncharted 2, we can't wait to see what they cook up for 3. Oh and there's lots of sand apparently, so they've been researching how sand actually works.
We loved Mass Effect, we adored Mass Effect 2. Many of our freelancers have it as their Game of the Year 2010 and rightly so. The story was great, the characters were excellent and we were left wondering just how Bioware was going to top 2. Well it looks like Earth is under attack by the Reapers and Collectors, now it's up to Sheppard to return and save the day. We are totally sure there's more to it than that, but the game is promising to be a great sequel with even more for us to rant and rave about. Bioware don't often put a foot wrong and we're really waiting to see what they tease us with next in terms of this game. We'd like to see more of a role for the Normandy and a deeper than ever space exploration in terms of the quests and side quests. What we also want to see is how our decisions from 2 shape the universe of 3 of course. Mass Effect 3 could well be our most anticipated game of 2011.
The Witcher was a great game, even better when the Enhanced Edition rolled out after a while. Geralt of Rivia was an unlikely hero, a complete son of a bitch and a womanizing scumbag, we loved him. He was a Witcher (a monster slayer) from the mind of Polish author - Andrzej Sapkowski, who created a pretty refreshing if clichéd fantasy world for his protagonist. The developer, CD Projekt Red took the Bioware Aurora Engine and managed to craft a fun and engaging fantasy RPG with a rich storyline and some truly memorable moments. They also brought Geralt to life and their game was a fitting tribute to Sapkowski's world and work. Now the Witcher 2 rolls out in 2011 and with their own internally built engine and a new camera style, it promises to be an action-RPG to rival the likes of Dragon Age 2. Of course we're looking forward to both, however we have soft spot for Geralt and his sassy wizard sidekick Triss, who is pretty cool as characters go in that respect. Witcher 2 promises a truly non-linear story and from what we've seen already some of the decisions you make aren't going to reveal their consequences until later on in the story. Rather like the first game, only much more sweeping and deeper in terms of their effects. We await this one with ant-ic-i-PATION.
Of course there are other games that are waiting in the wings to be announced, this is just a tiny sample of the Games for 2011 that we're waiting on.