2010's most promising PC games

Supreme Commander 2

Expected: March 2

PC gaming’s most bombastic RTS returns. This time it’s all about robots with personalities. The Star King Extreme. The Universal Colossus. The Cybrannosaurus Rex. These were named by (a) the power-crazed despot of a hyper-developed East-Asian nation, or (b) a strategy game developer. The answer was (b). It was Chris Taylor, robot-fancier and ultra-geek behind huge-scale RTSes Total Annihilation, Supreme Commander and Supreme Commander 2.

SupCom 2 starts with an obvious set of advantages. All the graphical tweaks and efficiency tweaks mean it’ll run about as well as the original game. Which is to say, beautifully on the average gamer’s machine. The focus this time is on upgrading units, but not individually. Instead, you earn research points by destroying enemies, and earn them faster by building research centres. You can spend these points on universal upgrades, abilities, and unlockable new units from five different tech trees: Land, Air, Sea, Structures and Commander. Jumpjets for your commander? Three points, please! Boost land unit damage by 30 percent? That’ll be five points sterling. Taylor pitches this as making the first unit you build useful to the end of the game.

Elemental: War of Magic

Expected: TBA 2010

Fantasy kingdoms, epic spells, genocidal dragons, and politely taking it in turns. “Right now the ‘game’ is so bad that several users have reported hemorrhaging,” says Brad Wardell, Stardock CEO and creator of this turn-based strategy RPG. It’s in an intentionally primitive beta stage, where only the game’s ‘cloth map’ view is enabled. Brad doesn’t want players to be distracted by the smoothly scaling 3D engine. He wants them to concentrate on the business of roaming the land, building an empire and managing relations with the other kingdoms.

You’re a little wizard wandering a vast randomly-generated fantasy world, with the power to build cities, custom-design troops, go on quests and cast preposterous spells. The one we saw, cast by a wizard standing at the gates of an enemy capital, made the flat earth beneath it rupture into a volcano, completely consuming the place.

In Galactic Civilizations II, the guy with the biggest armada by the halfway point was in an almost insurmountable position. But Elemental is packed with table turners. We might have a puny army, but a quest we did earlier convinced a dragon to join our side. You may not have a dragon, but your daughters married into the royal families of three failing kingdoms: when they give in, they’ll hand their armies over to you. And that guy over there might not have hot daughters or a dragon, but he’s about to turn your capital into Pompeii with his wizard stick. Imagine a strategy game that isn’t tedious for the last third of the match.

Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising

Expected: Mar 30

The Space Marines are being corrupted. Luckily, it turns out to be hilarious. We weren’t massively excited to hear that Dawn of War II’s first standalone expansion would see us playing as the Space Marines again. We’d heard whispers that an Ork, Eldar or Tyranid campaign might be on its way, and that’s what we’ve always wanted. But now that we’ve played Chaos Rising, we suddenly can’t wait.

It introduces the spiky corrupted marines of Chaos, of course, but that affects the three sides of DoW 2 differently: in single-player, they’re the new enemy in a campaign that continues directly after the first. In multiplayer, they’re a new playable race. And in Last Stand, the three-player co-op mode added after release, there’s a new Chaos hero to play.

Actually, it’s not fair to say they’re merely a new enemy in single-player: Chaos itself is also a new mechanic. Stealing sacred armour, smashing Imperial relics that get in your way, and other crimes against the Space Marine’s god-emperor all earn you corruption. Becoming more corrupt is like leveling up a new attribute: every few points along the way, you unlock a new power. At first these are simple, Chaos-themed abilities such as burning through your own health to deal extra damage. But at the very high level, they turn you into a hilarious asshole.

Different characters can end up with different corruption levels by using corrupted loot: powerful stuff, but equipping it costs you a part of your soul you can never get back. The downside of corruption, other than a lot of nagging from pretty much every character in the game, is that it makes you less effective when fighting Chaos. They’re not the only enemy in the game, but they do crop up a lot in the missions. Which, by the way, are no longer repeated ‘kill the boss’ jobs on the same maps again and again: each is uniquely scripted.

As this story continues from the last, you can carry over any leveled-up characters you have, and progress them beyond level 20. The new perks in these higher levels are crazy: Cyrus can upgrade his stealth to make himself invincible while cloaked. Best of all for geeks, some Chaos Rising missions take place aboard Space Hulks: the alien-infested junk ships that inspired both a boardgame and an FPS.

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  • 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.