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2010's most promising PC games

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Aliens vs Predator

Expected: Feb 16

Hunted, hunter, huntiest. Which will win in the multiplayer tussle? Well, the huntiest will, obviously. Aliens, versus Predators, versus a bunch of guys who aren’t Aliens or Predators. Definitely a rich recipe for three separate single-player FPS adventures, as we’ve seen before. But for the multiplayer? Is there a chance that the invisible, hyper-tough space bastard who can see in the dark, heal himself and fire plasma rockets from his shoulder might be somewhat overpowered?

Yes. And in deathmatch, that’s almost certainly going to be a problem. Pick Alien for agility, Marine for ranged firepower, or Predator for both. And invisibility. And armour. And landmines. Seemingly aware of this, Rebellion have a few modes that play on the imbalance instead of ignoring it. ‘Infestation’ doesn’t involve any Predators at all: one player is an Alien, and any Marines he kills respawn as xenos. The last man left alive with his humanity is the winner – however screwed.

Predator Hunt starts with a similar one-versus-many setup, but the Predator can kill as many Marines as he likes without gaining any allies. When he dies, though, his assassin becomes the Predator, and the former Predator is back to being a human jarhead. Reminds us of a certain Predator-inspired mod for Half-Life 2 – but that’s no bad thing.

As in Monolith’s AvP 2, Aliens can scamper up walls and along ceilings, and therefore over pretty much anything at all. On consoles, you can see how that might make them near-impossible to hit when moving at full speed. On PC, it might not be quite the same defensive masterstroke. It should make them fun to play in single-player, though. After you’ve clawed, tail-stabbed and head-chomped all the marines in an area, you can restrain the civilians so that a facehugger can implant them. If you don’t, the civvies are still all too aware of that possibility, and will try to take their own lives to avoid it. Dark.

As the species with the most pronounced disadvantage – no ranged attacks – the Alien campaign will apparently be as much about problem solving as deft violence. With turrets and heavy weapons, the Marines have some defences that just aren’t approachable in a direct assault. Aliens are stealthy in the shadows, though, and can activate a temporary ultra-fast mode to dash past heavy fire, so you do have tools you can use to work around these.

So long as one of the problems you have to solve is “Gee, I have a powerful hunger and here there’s this box of defenceless kittens – what’s a non-terrestrial fella like me to do?” we’re on board.


Napoleon: Total War

Expected: Feb 23

Creative Assembly are stepping into little shoes to fight a smaller, more personal war. “It was too buggy when released,” Mike Simpson says. Creative Assembly’s studio director is telling us what went wrong with their last game, Empire: Total War. “It’s because we have a fixed release deadline, and being a part of the publisher now, you can’t not meet the deadline. As an independent developer you could be late, as long as you didn’t run out of money,” he laughs.

The other problem was ambition. CA liked to start work from scratch with every second game, but that proved too big a challenge with Empire: Total War. “What we’re saying now is that for every major iteration we’ll revolutionise one area of the game at a time,” Mike explains. “We’ve got land battles, naval, the campaign, and we count multiplayer as a fourth. So each iteration will pick one of those four areas and completely rewrite it. Over four products we’ll end up completely re-writing the codebase, but we’ve got a more manageable task in terms of having at least three-quarters of the game be rock solid throughout development.”

Sitting down to play Napoleon: Total War, it’s hard to say which area they’ve decided to completely rewrite this time around, because there are a dozens of changes made all over. Taking a more personal focus than the global war of Empire, Napoleon guides you across three campaigns that chart the Little Corporal’s life. The campaign map has been revamped to include seasonal weather and to big-up the importance of supply lines. If your troops are going to survive their venture into the Russian winter, you’d better have a steady supply of parkas and mittens.

When you leap into the land battles, improvements to the AI are immediately obvious. Generals play a more important role in Napoleon, providing tactical buffs to nearby troops – letting you inspire your forces and rally men in the process of fleeing. Given the big AI problems of Empire, it’s a relief to see it already working so well in Napoleon.

Playing with friends should be a central part of Napoleon from the off. When playing a campaign, you’ll be able to tick a box that says you want drop-in/drop-out battles. Afterwards, when you enter a land or naval battle during your campaign, you might not be playing against the AI. Instead, the game will send an invite out over Steam, searching for another player who will leap into your game for that battle’s duration. It’s not clear how the matchmaking will work, but Creative Assembly expect that it’ll mostly be used by people who are already expert at the game. It should be an utterly seamless transition, and it should enable those able to trounce the computer to keep playing with more challenging, unpredictable enemies.

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27 comments

  • Kasjer - February 9, 2010 2:15 p.m.

    @StrayGator You're joking, right? Man, there were dozens of FPS games with the same control scheme before AVP. AVP gameplay isn't smooth, it's flawed. Game have many bugs, and suffer because of stupid concept of constantly respawning aliens that always know where you are, so Marine and Predator missions are speedruns. Multiplayer is only good in co-op, four marines against waves of aliens is great but anything else suffers because from lack of any balance. Predator owns everyone, even total noob can beat good marine player with predator. Aliens are too weak and are cannon fodder for two other races. Singleplayer have no story. It is possible to sum it up in three sentences: Marine - Get the hell out of here! Predator - Kill the Queen! Also, kill anything on your way to Queen. Alien - Kill everyone, they invaded your hive! Also - protect the eggs. Graphics were only "ok" for it's time - texture work is really poor compared to Unreal and Half-Life. Both games were released in 1998. Soon after AVP, UT and Q3 saw the daylight, and both these are of far superior quality. I've bought AVP after release and it was full of bugs and glithes. Even gold edition didn't solve all problems. AVP1 is mediocre game that has been glorified back then and again lately. Right now no one speaks abouth Monolith game which is far better, because it wasn't Rebellion work. AVP2 is what AVP games should be from the start. It have real story, three campaings are connected and plot is full only after playing all three races. Game is put together much better, texture work is fantastic compared to laziness of AVP1 and it have real atmosphere. In AVP1 Marine and Predator missions plays like Serious Sam with xenomorphs as enemies. Finally, AVP2 multiplayer was much better - dedicated servers! - even if it have it's own problems. Plus, game is easier to mod so community released many mods that improved game balance and solved many flaws. Rebellion have never made any good game, just mediocre ones. I doubt new AVP will be good, especially after i've played the demo. Hype machine is big, not as big as Halo 3 or MW2 ones, but almost every siteportraits AVP like FPS of the year. Personally i would be happy if it will be worth buying at all!
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 28, 2010 11:16 p.m.

    > Im sorry but where was APB?? This.
  • Illinoissucks - January 27, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    Im sorry but where was APB??
  • boyverygood011 - January 27, 2010 3:52 p.m.

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  • Cernunnos - January 27, 2010 3:31 p.m.

    well, not upgrading my pc this year either. the few of those i care about, are also for the consoles.
  • Spybreak8 - January 26, 2010 2:59 a.m.

    I'd have to admit I didn't even want to read the first page. Brink looks like a promising new comer.
  • CH3BURASHKA - January 25, 2010 7:02 a.m.

    You start off the Mafia 2 preview with 'It starts 20 years after the first one', so I first thought you meant the first Mafia was a 1990 release. Thanks for the brainfuck.
  • nik41507 - January 24, 2010 10:30 p.m.

    goooooooooo PC GAMES!!!! STARCRAFT 2 WOOOOOOOOOO reCAPTCHA: to cockier there getting dirty
  • GoldenMe - January 24, 2010 8:39 p.m.

    lolol PC
  • spacemonkey086 - January 24, 2010 3:06 a.m.

    not too many exclusives.
  • StrayGator - January 23, 2010 11:05 p.m.

    Rebellion made the original AvP FPS, introducing a control scheme copied by nearly any fps since then (along with smooth gameplay and nice graphics for the time). Still, considering their latest output, can't say I'm thrilled. Aliens: Colonial Marines on the other hand... Gearbox sure know how to nail shooter mechanics damn tight. Art direction should be straightforward (news article - Gearbox: "Wer'e taking inspiration from alien movies". no shit?). Just don't make it console only. What I don't understand is the absence of some heavyweight multiplatform releases. It's not a PC exclusive list, still it mainly constrained to the RTS/MMO territory.
  • McSpermie - January 23, 2010 8:33 p.m.

    um, Metro 2033? That game is going to be amazing...
  • LuigiWolf - January 23, 2010 7:32 p.m.

    Where the hell is crysis 2?
  • Kipper - January 23, 2010 12:55 p.m.

    I hope that Rebellion remember that the Colonial Marines have helmet-mounted infra-red vision as well as a motion tracker, so to balance them against the Predator and Aliens. Leaving it out would make the game unfair.
  • hagelbreaker - January 23, 2010 12:33 p.m.

    All sequels exept Brink....
  • Cwf2008 - January 23, 2010 9:16 a.m.

    @DeadGirls: They must be quaking in their boots now, oh if there wrong you will never let them live it down
  • DeadGirls - January 23, 2010 8:57 a.m.

    Where the fuck are Splinter Cell: Conviction and Battlefield : Bad Company 2? I'm anticipating those more than any on this list. Also, this is the like the 4th time I've heard from a Future media affiliate that Aliens vs. Predator is going to be a good game. Considering that the devs (Rebellion) HAVE NOT MADE A GOOD GAME -- EVER, I remain skeptical. If, after its release, I find out the game sucks, I WILL NOT let you live it down guys.
  • OmNomRomRearghNergh - January 23, 2010 8:56 a.m.

    Is Crysis 2 not 2010?
  • Cwf2008 - January 23, 2010 8:08 a.m.

    "So long as one of the problems you have to solve is “Gee, I have a powerful hunger and here there’s this box of defenceless kittens – what’s a non-terrestrial fella like me to do?” we’re on board" WTF?!
  • TheGiaour - January 23, 2010 7:13 a.m.

    Napoleon and Starcraft II will replace Empire and CoH for my strategy kick. For my shooting desires it seems Bioshock 2 and AvP will do just fine. Now I need a good horror game to round out this year as a good one as a pc gamer. Makes me wonder when Alan Wake will come out.

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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