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Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Developer: Eidos Studios Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
The original Deus Ex was way ahead of its time when it was released on the PC in the year 2000. Instead of dictating the path the player took through the game, Deus Ex was all about offering choices - do you mow down your cyber terrorist foes Rambo-style, or take a more stealthy approach by hacking into their security feeds? Maybe you want to pick them off from afar with sniper rifles. Maybe you combine all three tactics. You were free to specialize your character in any number of skills, and the game presented viable routes through the game for all of them.
Now more than a decade later, console games are finally offering the the sophistication that Deus Ex did all those years ago, which makes Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s launch this spring all the more appropriate. Like Deus Ex and its sequel, Invisible War, Human Revolution promises to reward players for taking any route they wish through the game, whether it’s stealth, hacking, combat, persuasion, or a combination thereof. Though the series has been absent for six years, it has never been far from the conversation of hardcore gamers. With slick HD graphics, a story that sets the stage for the original game, and a whole new set of futuristic weapons, body augmentations and skills to choose from, a new generation of gamers will finally be able to see what all the fuss over the series has been about.
Developer: Valve Corporations
Publisher: Electronic Arts
The original Portal was a little slice of gaming bliss when it was released in 2008, with accolades showered on its inventive, physics-based puzzles and wicked sense of humor. Though it only lasted about five hours, its unique blend of brainteasers still have gamers talking about it. If previews are any indication, however, Valve has only scratched the surface of what they can do with this series.
Whereas the first game mainly used portals as a conveyance for players, Portal 2 offers a smorgasbord of new ways to bend time and space. New environmental effects, like anti-gravity lifts and vacuum tubes, can be manipulated by your portals, which can now also transport different gels which make the player run faster or bounce higher. A new co-op campaign adds even more wrinkles to the formula, as two players will be able to use four portals to careen around a set of specially designed puzzle rooms. But, more than anything, we’re looking forward to more GLaDOS. Ellen McLain’s deadpan delivery as your computerized captor in the first game was responsible for a lot of that title’s charm, and Portal 2 looks to bring the acerbic electronic overlord back in style.
Mass Effect 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
The first two Mass Effect games established a universe full of new and unknown worlds, while also simultaneously winning boatloads of Game of the Year awards. The choices that you have made in the past 2 installments are most certainly going to affect Commander Shepard and his team in a big way. Mass Effect 2 ended on a climatic note, (or anti-climatic depending on your play style.) In the war against the Collectors, Shepard will take on many roles as many gamers blaze their own trail through the galaxy. Branching storylines, intense situations, and the fact that this is Shepard’s favorite game on the Citadel make it one of the most anticipated titles of the New Year.
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
The first things I heard about the new id Software game, RAGE, was that it looked fantastic. I’m not normally someone to jump at a games looks but all the early hype definitely piqued my interest. After checking out the QuakeCon ’09 trailer, I was sold. The game looked beautiful and while the environment it’s set in may not be very original, I knew seeing id’s take on a post-apocalyptic type world would be interesting. id has been fairly quiet on story details so far but what we know is an asteroid has hit good old planet earth and your character is a survivor of one of the Arks. Which are shelters made by people around the world to try and nourish the wounded after the asteroid hit.
RAGE is supposed to be a blend of 3rd person vehicular combat and standard first person action. While I know first person games can be done well, I’m most excited for the vehicular combat. It looks absolutely bananas, and I love bananas. The pure madness that is happening on screen seems to be a combination of both Full Auto and Dirt. With the look of the game being more Dirt, and the actual combat being more Full Auto. I know I speak for everyone in saying God I hope RAGE is better than Full Auto.
Batman Arkham Asylum
Developer: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Batman Arkham Asylum was a surprise hit. It was on near no one’s radar when it dropped on August 25th, 2009 but after a week, it had took the gaming world by storm. The simple yet elegant story involving Joker breaking out villains in Arkham made us uncontrollably squeal with happiness. It was either that or the flawless combat that sent our squeals through the atmosphere. From head to toe, Batman Arkham Asylum was an incredible game, and ever since Batman Arkham City’s announcement trailer, I’ve been on the edge of my seat to see what the guys over at Rocksteady would have in store with the new game.
One of the new innovations in Arkham City is something called “Predator Gameplay.” Which is basically stealth mode, but instead of just avoiding enemies, you’re trying to instill fear in them. This will then make them flee like mice away from you. I know that the combat and overall “stealth” situations in Batman Arkham Asylum were some of the most intense things in the game so I have confidence in Rocksteady to not only make some great combat, but also deliver an overall fantastic experience.