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When I was a child, the year 2010 seemed like the distant future. An amazing technologically-advanced utopia where people could play games on mechanical thinking machines connected to each other via a vast electromagnetic web of digital entertainment! Looking back on last year, the real 2010 far exceeded my expectation; my childish dreams of what a video game might be were dwarfed by the realities of projects like Mass Effect 2. As of today, 2010 is part of the past. Henceforth, I’ll look back on that time as a primitive period when Dragon Age 2 wasn’t available, and subhuman savages entertained themselves with primeval entertainment software.
The new future of 2011 looks to be a step up from 2010, we’re getting several great PC games right off the bat in January, among these early comers is Dead Space 2. I was late to the game with the first Dead Space, and only played it recently, but I loved the world-building that went into it, along with all of the subtle gameplay tweaks that separated it from previous survival horror games. Dead Space pits you against enemies who can shrug off headshots with ease, so it requires you to target limbs, rather than the typical “Shoot it in the head” tactics of zombie games. The inclusion of zero-gravity levels added some variety to level design, while the vacuum of space gave a clever justification for timed missions. Of course, the anti-religion storyline provided me that extra incentive to stop zombies, since they were all kooky religious nuts.
The recently released demo shows us that Dead Space 2 will give us more of all of this, and jetpacks too! There’s also going to be a multiplayer mode, which I frankly don’t care about. Part of horror is being alone, so I’ll be happy to return to the Dead Space franchise just for the chance to slaughter Unitologists in the solo campaign.
A couple of months down the line, in March, gamers are getting a new intellectual property, Homefront by Kaos Studios. I like the games I play to have a strong story, and I was very interested in Homefront right from the first trailer I saw. It’s a first person shooter set in the year 2027, and it explores what might happen if America were invaded and conquered by a unified Korea. Players will control a freedom fighter resisting these Communist overlords, and preview trailers show storytelling in the manner of Halflife 2, but with a modern, more realistic setting. The game is written by John Milius, who co-wrote Apocalypse Now and wrote Red Dawn, so I have very high expectations for a strong story about us Yankees overcoming the commie invaders. Kaos Studios is one of the few New York City-based game developers who are making AAA titles, and I’m especially interested in supporting some of the local talent.
Technically Diablo III is coming out whenever Blizzard gets it done, but we can probably expect it by the end of 2011. Regardless of when it hits store shelves, I’ll be there waving a fistful of money begging to get my paws on it. I’ve been a fan of this franchise for well over a decade; I played the first Diablo game on a mac powerbook with a 56k modem back in the days when a 56k modem was “High Speed Internet”, then I sunk dozens of hours into the sequel as well. Critics might say that it looks too much like the same old Diablo we’ve had for fourteen years- but that is in no way a bad thing. Give me more of the same, with pretty new graphics, and I’ll be happy. When they add in weird characters like the Witch Doctor, and show off the Wizard’s “Slow Time” spell, I know this is something worth the wait.