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First announced: May 2006
Since then, we’ve seen: A few pieces of concept art that look like this:
Why it’ll be delayed: The entire point of “episodic gaming” is to enable developers to crank out smaller games on a more frequent basis than they would if they were creating “full” games. This point seems lost on Valve, which has managed to make exactly two add-on episodes for Half-Life 2 in the amount of time it would take most other developers to crank out Half-Life 3 and 4.
Like Blizzard, though, Valve is known for producing outstanding games after years of hard work and perfectionism. We’re sure Valve has something amazing up its sleeve – it’s been rumored since 2007 that Episode 3 would include the Portal gun – but we’re almost equally sure that before it comes out, we’ll have seen two new Portal expansions and a sequel to Duke Nukem Forever (which doesn’t necessarily mean DNF itself will have come out). Hell, at least Duke Nukem Forever has given us more to go on than a couple paintings of some chasm.
Above: WOOOOO! CHASM!
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): Ideally, Episode 3 could hit Steam sometime in the first half of the year. It could then followed by an Xbox 360/PSN release that nobody will play, because they still haven’t gotten around to finishing Episode 1, Episode 2 or anything else on the Orange Box that wasn’t Portal.
First announced: July 2008
Since then, we’ve seen: This presentation from last year’s E3, and nothing else:
Why it’ll be delayed: Even ignoring that Home’s multiple delays don’t speak well to Sony’s ability (or at least that of its console division) to get massively multiplayer games out on time, MAG is a hugely ambitious project that we’d be surprised to see in 2010, let alone this year, from any developer. And although MAG developer Zipper Interactive managed to define PS2 online gaming year after year with its landmark SOCOM series, there’s a big difference between setting up small, squad-based skirmishes on a last-gen console and creating gigantic, persistent battlefields that can fought over by 256 players at once.
OK, so Sony’s done massive shooters before on PC, with the much-maligned Planetside, and Zipper’s doubtless been working on MAG for a lot longer than we’ve known about it. But even bearing that in mind, the scarcity of information on the game is a little weird for something that could potentially ship this year. As of this writing, Sony has yet to release official screenshots, or to make MAG’s trailer available for download by press outlets. Even at this early date, we should have seen more of what could be the biggest console shooter (literally) of the year.
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): Like so many of the other games on this list, MAG could well make a huge splash at E3, blasting the gaming press with all the screens, videos and hands-on impressions it could possibly want. Assuming all the server issues are worked out in short order, it could then be proudly added to the PS3’s library alongside SOCOM: Confrontation, Tom Clancy’s EndWar and all the other realistic, story-free military games that appeal almost exclusively to ultra-hardcore online gamers.
First announced: May 2006
Since then, we’ve seen: Screenshots, an unprecedented-for-its-time “casting” trailer and a slightly less impressive (but much creepier) gameplay trailer filled with quicktime events.
Why it’ll be delayed: Well, the trailer says 2009, and Heavy Rain has been called Sony’s “most important” game of 2009 by David Cage, founder of developer Quantic Dream, which indicates that the company is at least planning to get the game out the door sometime this year. However, the combination of reportedly tricky-to-program-for machinery, a small development team and one of the most graphically ambitious adventure games ever does not fill us with confidence.
And really, we haven’t trusted release dates on trailers since Metal Gear Solid 4 kept getting pushed back, so the “2009” date for this eerie suspense story is already suspect.
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): Really, so long as the game ships this year, feels finished and doesn’t squander the suspense it creates on a final act filled with stupid conspiracies, robots and Dragon Ball Z fights (see Quantic’s last project, Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit), we’ll consider it a best-case scenario.
First announced: April 1997
Since then, we’ve seen: Sporadic releases of screenshots that went from this:
And most recently, to this:
We’ve also seen this trailer, which shows us precious little of the game that’s supposedly been in continuous development for almost 12 years:
Why it’ll be delayed: “How did I know Duke Nukem Forever was going to be on this list?” you’re probably asking yourself right now. We’ll tell you how: for those who’ve been following it over the (nearly) 12 years it’s been in development, the title is synonymous with delays. You can’t even say the word “delay” without some asshole popping up in the background and screaming “Duke Nukem Forever!” At this point, it’ll be a massive surprise if it even sees the light of day within our lifetimes.
But there’s more to it than that. Every other game on this list is a game that we’ll be disappointed, if not heartbroken, to see delayed into 2009. Duke Nukem Forever will disappoint us if it does come out. This is partially because a 12-year delay has built up expectations for the game to impossible levels, but also because we (by which we mean “all game journalists, everywhere, without exception”) have grown to love making jokes at its expense.
We don’t want the game, we want to keep mocking it from now until Doomsday. And developer 3D Realms has given us plenty of fodder over the years; each new, absurdly miniscule announcement revives the seemingly dead horse just enough for us to pile on and joyfully bash its head with a tire iron. To see Duke Nukem Forever actually release would be a shock to the internet humor industry on par with Bush leaving the White House.
Wait, that already happened this year?
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): Six new, thumbnail-sized screens will be released in June, prompting a hail of catcalls from the gaming press. Then the game will abruptly hit store shelves the following month, leaving no sound to fill the stunned silence but creator George Broussard’s mocking laughter.
Jan 27, 2009
The Preemptive 2009 Game Awards
We're handing out honors to games so good we haven't even played them yet
Biggest unfulfilled promises in gaming
Major build-ups and letdowns from big-name companies
100 Most Anticipated Games of 2009
We pick the hottest new titles we want most from the New Year