BY ADAM BONANNI And we’re back! Got my legs all stretched out during my little vacation, but now it’s time for me to pick up my controller and get back to you guys and gals with the dirt. The good shit. Lots of good stuff launching in 2010; Final Fantasy XIII, Alan Wake, Super Mario Galaxy 2, GranTurismo 5, a nice little Medal of Honor reboot, and Starcraft 2 (well, could happen) and I’d like to sum up a bit of what deserves your attention in the coming months.
Mass Effect 2: This will be quite the divisive title, but it’s looking to build on the framework set by its predecessor very nicely. For a game where the player will find scenes of plot advancing dialogue as plentiful as the combat, the presentation of the story looks like it will have you hooked right away. Just check out the cinematic trailer; it built more tension than most theatrical trailers I’ve seen in the last few years. Mass Effect focused heavily on presenting itself like a sweepingly fantastical space epic, and I’d have to say it really nailed it. There is depth to these characters, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard the conflicted protagonist, CommanderShephard , speak his first lines. Say what you will about a mute protagonist being the best way to lay your personality over a character, but creating a really engaging and dynamic main character with his own burdens and identity can create real emotional investment from a player. The combat looks much improved this time around, and the dialogue and character animations look as natural as real life, so look for this when it drops on January 26, 2010.
Bioshock 2: This sequel to the nightmarish adventure set in 60’s era underwater uber-distopia Rapture was all but guaranteed to get its mythos expanded, and is looking to twist up the formula ever so slightly. Multiplayer is the biggest new feature, and will showcase the events of the civil war in Rapture that occurred just previous to the first Bioshock and led to the demise of the city that was meant to be the pinnacle of civilization. The single player campaign will put you in the diving boots of the first Big Daddy, the gargantuan and mysterious police of Rapture, and has the player squaring off the faster and deadlier Big Sister ten years after the events of Bioshock numero uno. Choice remains a huge aspect of the game, and Bioshock 2 looks to give the player the same level of control of how they would like to expand their character’s attributes through genetic enhancements. The same theme of choice is carried over to the treatment of the “Little Sisters”, once children, now soulless gatherers of the genetic material that keeps the wheel of Rapture turning. Their presence now appears to play a greater factor behind the events inBioshock 2, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen. The mysterious atmosphere is what drew me to the first Bioshock , but the game lost some steam toward the end of the campaign when it started deciding to leave no stone unturned, rolled over, and shoved off a cliff. More plot details are being kept under tight wraps, but we’ll see if this title fits into the rich and atmospheric world of Rapture when it launches this February.
No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Sequels, sequels sequels! Director Suda 51 has made some of the most hyperactive and eccentric games of the past couple console generations, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be slowing down. It’s debatable if stylistic shooter Killer 7 made an ounce of sense, butSuda’s follow up to that game, No More Heroes, offered a much more accessible story even if the events onscreen were still buried under layers upon layers of metaphor. The nerdy, love-able Travis Touchdown will be making his return, with his beam katana, fighting through ranked battles to become the world’s top assassin in order to “get chicks”. Interestingly, this both sums up what you’ll be doing all game, yet at the same time explains almost nothing at all. The game thrives on throwing the player a curve ball around every corner. One moment you could be hanging out in Travis’s apartment listening to the old messages on his answering machine, the video store clerk wondering why he hasn’t returned “How to Please a Woman in Bed 101 Part 2″, and the next he could be slashing through hundreds of henchmen on the way to a ranked battle. The game looks to make better use of theWii remote’s control this time around incorporating the nunchuck, and also addresses the criticism of the first game’s city, the California inspired Santa Destroy, being a lifeless and boring place to explore. Cant wait to get our hands on thisWii exclusive at the Phawker office when it drops January 26th, 2010.
Heavy Rain: This one’s been in the Playstation 3’s roster of “upcoming games” since the console was first unveiled, but rejoice! Heavy Rain should be making its release date of February 23, 2010. Truth be told, I haven’t kept up with too many details of how the game will look and play, but if it’s anything like studioQuantic Dream’s last title Fahrenheit (aka: Indigo Prophecy here in the States), expect a dark, gritty story that loves to keep the player guessing and the tension dialed to 11.Gameplay looks to be seamlessly integrated into cinematic scenes that serve to advance the story, and really looks to keep players thinking on their feet while delivering a visceral gaming experience. Four different people are called into the hunt for “The Origami Killer” who kills his victims four days after they go missing, and trademarks his work with a small origami figurine by their bodies. There are no game over screens, and if one character dies, the story follows another. It’s likely your first fewplaythroughs might not turn out with such a happy ending, but then again, that will be up to you and the choices you’ll make. It’ll be really interesting to see how thisPlaystation 3 exclusive can assert itself in a very demanding market, but it looks to be making all the right moves so far.
Metroid: Other M: I wrote about this as the biggest piece of news to drop out of 2009’s E3, and as long as it makes its release date scheduled as “2010”, I’m happy to write about it again. This newMetroid is looking to revive the classic 2D exploratory gameplay of the early titles on the NES and Super Nintendo while blending them with the 3D elements introduced to the series in 2002’s Metroid Prime. There also promises to be a greater emphasis on Samus Aran’s backstory, but any details whatsoever are being kept under tight lock and key. It’s an unlikely collaboration between Nintendo and Team Ninja, creators of the NinjaGaiden and Dead or Alive franchises, and so long as they keep her out of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 3, I think this could work.