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2010's most promising PC games

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Expected: Spring 2010

Forever delayed. Nearly ready. It’s been a decade since the original RTS classic, with only cancelled spinoffs in between, and now that Blizzard are turning their attention back to the milieu, first with a campaign based around the Terrans, they’re determined to get it right. That polish is most evident in StarCraft II’s vibrant colour palette, which communicates unit types and their situation at a microsecond’s glance. When the arc welder of a boxy SCV constructor flicker-crackles and its pilot reports “job’s done” in a casual, southern drawl, you just get it.

StarCraft II’s focus is clearly on taking the kind of missions that wouldn’t have been out of place in the original and perfecting them so that every unit, every animation, every click feels great. Our concern is that by looking back and polishing what came before, StarCraft II might miss the obvious tricks strategy games have since adopted to make them less frustrating.

Jim Raynor’s battlecruiser serves as your mobile base in Wings of Liberty, with fully-rendered versions of your crew waiting inside to chat up between missions. Point-and-clicking around the bridge, cantina and other areas digs up bits of lore; you can purchase units and upgrades through your engineering deck, or pull up the galactic map to choose which mission to take next. Given these choices and the bonus objectives each mission contains, there’ll be plenty to replay while we await the release of the Protoss and Zerg campaigns.

Once you do run out of single-player fun, StarCraft II’s multiplayer awaits. The game will launch alongside Blizzard’s renewed Battle.net service, which will provide matchmaking and a social network that’ll cover all their games. Even better, Blizzard recently revealed StarCraft II’s editor, which is flexible enough to create not just new maps but to completely warp it into a top-down shooter. Make something good enough and you’ll even be able to sell it to fellow players through Battle.net.  


Mafia II

Expected: May 5

20 years after the original, Mafia II stars faster cars, more powerful guns and sharper suits. Set two decades after the original Mafia, in the postwar ’40s and ’50s of the fictional American city of Empire Bay, Mafia II follows the parallel trajectories of Vito Scaletta and Joe Barbaro. These two friends find that their ascendancy within the ranks of the mob means that they’re also becoming inextricably entangled in the rivalries and betrayals of three competing crime families. For your part, you control Vito, in a story that spans ten years of beatings, assassinations, double-crosses, and the cheese-grating of fancy cars with hundreds and hundreds of bullets.

Empire Bay is an open city, sure, but its weather isn’t random - it’s used to create mood. When you’re driving, you can choose from three radio stations, but the DJ for each will play soundtracks to suit your current experience. If you’re in a chase, he’ll pump exciting (period appropriate) beats. If you’re casually cruising, he’ll play something relaxing. 

The attention to detail is impressive and compelling. Missions often begin in Vito’s apartment: NPCs are talking, joking around, yelling to each other as you walk between the rooms. Leaving the apartment one day, you pass a woman being accosted by a drunken idiot in the street. You can drive on by, or you can get involved and punch his lights out. It’s a throwaway, optional scenario.

As Vito, you’re playing a young man coming into money for the first time, set loose in the city. Assuming the police don’t catch you. As in the original game, they’re a stickler for basic traffic violations like speeding or running red lights, and they’ll blow their whistle or chase you down to give you a ticket. If you happen to be carrying a gun at the time – and you probably will be – they’ll try to arrest you, too. You’ve got three options to escape: show them a boring permit, bribe them, or flee. Fleeing causes them to radio-in your description, forcing you to change your clothes to shake them off. Bribing them might work, or it might just make things worse. Honest cops, eh?

Mafia II still isn’t as anarchic as Grand Theft Auto. It doesn’t have to be. There’s room for all kinds of games in the world, but, let’s face it, there’ll never be too many that wrap steel-hearted gunplay and rampant criminality in a downright classy package. Mafia did it. We think Mafia II’s going to do it even better.

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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