Stuff.tv's 10 games to play this year
With the promised releases of Gran Turismo 5, Heavy Rain and Microsoft's next-gen control system Project Natal, 2010 looks set to be a good year for games. Here are ten titles we're getting our knickers in a twist over...
Gran Turismo 5
It’s been five years and counting – and this year, they promise, we’re going to see it. Really. Honest, guv. That it’ll look spectacular is a given, but GT5 also includes (we’re told) 1000 cars and 70 circuits, including Top Gear’s test track at Dunsfold Park, and proper, realistic damage (both inside the cars and out). And for those of you with a PlayStation Eye camera, the in-cockpit view will be able to track your head movements. Cool!
Out: Dunno. Sometime this year... Apparently.
As a human in the original BioShock, you had to battle the huge, violent Big Daddies and sinister Little Sisters as they harvested genetic material from the dead. Now it’s your turn to step into the Big Daddy suit, ten years after the events of the first game. Far from being a lumbering drone, though, you’re endowed with free will and morality – as well as superhuman strength and a scary arsenal of weaponry – which you have to use to rescue the brainwashed Little Sisters from their macabre task. Either that or harvest them to gain more strength and better weapons. Nothing remotely disturbing about that, then...
Out: 9 February, 2010
Formats: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
You are Alan Wake, a Stephen King-type writer who goes with his wife to the idyllic town of Bright Falls to clear his writer’s block. Then your missus disappears, and you suddenly find yourself in your own nightmare thriller – the book you’ve written, but have no memory of – trying to track down your missing wife. It’s all very beautiful looking, with properly cinematic sequences, so you might expect to be confined to a single path through the game – but it’s actually quite sandboxy. It has an interesting take on weaponry, too, with light – not bullets – being your best friend. Part game, part thriller movie, then – we can’t wait.
Out: 13 April, 2010
Formats: Xbox 360
Mass Effect 2
Taking place two years after the first game, you, as the hard-as-nails Commander Shepard, are on the hunt for human space colonists who’ve been going missing. Expect lots of opportunities to shoot baddies in the face, as well as some well-thought-out RPG elements. It’s rare to find a sequel that doesn’t to some extent alienate new players, but Mass Effect 2 is huggably inclusive. Fans of the first game will remember situations and characters, as well as being able to use their saved game data to inform the action, while newbies get just the right amount of hand-holding. And best of all, the way you play the game, including how you interact with its characters will affect its outcome – so it’ll never turn out the same twice.
Out: 29 January, 2010
Formats: PC, Xbox 360
Broken Sword: The Director's Cut (iPhone)
Like Monkey Island (without the laughs) The classic point-and-click adventure is now available as a point-and-prod version on Apple's touchscreen devices. An update of the 1996 original, which saw American tourist George Stobbard and photojournalist Nico Collard become involved in the mystery of the Knights Templar, the developers say they've crammed more stuff into the Director's Cut, giving it 20% more playing time. It follows a similar engine to the recent Monkey Island iPhone port (just without the Threepwood-style laughs) and, at £3.99, is worth a punt even if only for the novelty factor. We like.
Formats: iPhone, iPod Touch
Aliens vs Predator
“We're not making a computer game here for anyone other than adults,” said Jason Kingsley, CEO of AvP developer Rebellion. And that’s just how we think it should be for a title like this. You’ll be able to play as either of the two space nasties, as well as a (frankly, doomed) marine – with each species approaching battle in its own characteristic way, including long, toothy mouths, shoulder-mounted plasma cannons and shouty, crew-cutted machinegunning. It’s so violent that the Predator’s spine-ripping trophy kills got the game banned in Australia before an appeal allowed its release. Excellent.
Out: 19 February, 2010
Formats: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
No aliens, no ghosts, no machine guns the size of a man’s torso. That’s not what Heavy Rain’s about. Plot details are thin on the ground, but French developer Quantic Dream says the game is an immersive story; you don’t simply play an arbitrary plot, you direct the action all the way through, from the point of view of four characters. If one dies, you play another – with the whole game affected by the former’s death. Everything affects everything else – snuck into a house and got away again undetected? Great. But do it again and leave a cupboard door open, say, and you might be collared. From the sneak previews we’ve seen, it looks like it’s going to be brilliant – a game that will seldom, if ever, repeat itself.
Out: 26 February, 2010
God of War III
Double-hard Spartan warrior Kratos becomes possessed by the god of war. Double-hard Spartan warrior becomes the god of war. Double-hard god of war irks his chums on Olympus, who chuck him out. Double-hard god of war gets pretty annoyed and vows to destroy his ex-chums on Olympus. All caught up? Good. God of War III's developers have made the most of the PS3 processing grunt and delivered a game that looks amazing, really showing off what the console can do. There are lots of set-pieces, but the whole thing is rendered and animated in such an immersive, violent way (Kratos is so harsh that he rips the heads off Greek deities without so much as a "By your leave") that we don't really care. If you want to reignite the Xbox/PS3 fight with your friends, this is the game to spark it off.
Out: March 2010
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
Poor old Sam Fisher, eh? He never gets a break. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, he probably has to slit the throats of three henchmen just to get to loo loo. And so it continues: his daughter was killed in a hit-and-run in the previous game. But was it an accident? Of course not! And now Fisher's gone rogue, with his old Third Echelon employers after him - and in trying to find out who really killed his daughter, he uncovers a more sinister plot in Washington... very 24. It's not as hide-in-a-bush-and-shoot-men-in-the-face-y as previous installments, but there's still plenty of stealth action - along with some interesting-looking co-op modes for when you've finished the main story.
Out: April 2010
Formats: Nintendo DS, PC, Xbox 360
OK, so it's not a game as such. But it will open the doors for plenty of new and innovative titles. Microsoft's motion-sensing controller contains a camera that translates your flailing from across the room into on-screen actions, and is intended to broaden the company's Xbox console's appeal from the typically hardcore gaming base. It'll do face and voice recognition as well as movement too, so we're expecting lots of shouting, jumping up and down and gurning for compatible titles. Much like a normal day at the Stuff office, really.
Out: Winter 2010
Formats: Xbox 360