We’re barely two weeks into 2010 and there’s already enough must-have games to choke one of Avatar’s six-legged horses. January alone is home to seven big-name releases, with February, March and April continuing the trend. Hell, we even know what’s coming in the summer and in some cases (like Halo Reach) we’re even certain of the fall’s heaviest hitters.
Collected here is every game that matters (so far) in 2010. Obviously some games will slip and others will be announced in June at E3, but as far as “right now” is concerned, this is a perfect preview of how bruised and beaten your poor wallet is going to be by the end of the year.
100 – Project Natal (360)
This could end up being the story of 2010. Equally, so could Sony's version. It all depends on who gets it right. And by right, we mean capture the imagination of gamers to the point that motion control crosses over from the mainstream, Wii-hogging Nanas, back to the hardcore. From what's been shown so far, Natal is winning this battle. Few could fail to have been seduced by its exuberant E3 2009 showing - especially its uncanny ability to read your facial expression and tell you cheer the hell up. That, and you don't need to hold Sony’s coloured lollipop sticks. If there were clearly defined games we could point to, this would rank a lot higher.
99 – Monado: Beginning of the World (Wii)
Next to nothing is known about this admittedly gorgeous action-RPG. Announced during E3 last year, it’s since disappeared from the spotlight and left us with nothing but questions. The developer, Monolith Soft, is best known for Xenosaga, Baten Kaitos and the Wii-only Disaster: Day of Crisis, which is a damn respectable resume in our eyes. We’re hoping for something great.
98 – Echoshift (PSP)
If you found 2008’s bizarre 3D puzzler Echochrome too confusing, then its sequel, Echoshift, may be more your speed. A minimalist side-scroller, Echoshift saddles each of its puzzle-filled levels with a short time limit. The twist is – once that time’s up – the stage resets and a ghost, or “echo,” of your last run sets out to re-solve all the puzzles you just did. With up to eight of these active at a time, the key to success lies in using them to clear a path as quickly as possible, which is both harder and more fun than it sounds.
97 – Hydrophobia (360)
What do you get if you blend BioShock's premise of a law-free state at sea, Dead Space's corridors and literally add water to the mix? Hydrophobia, that's what. Coming to us this year in three episodic instalments, this survival horror action fest is looking well worth a download, with water physics to battle and hidden plotlines to uncover.
96 – Warriors: Legends of Troy (Multi)
While we could spend a few words explaining the subtle nuances of an action game based around the Trojan War, we can summarize the whole thing quite effectively with one phrase: Dynasty Warriors meets 300. Developer Koei promises online co-op, buckets of gore and an “M” rating (a first for the series), so we’re curious for the first time in years.
95 – Front Mission Evolved (Multi)
This is a fifth sequel to the somewhat unknown SNES game Front Mission. Unknown because the 1995 original only came out in Japan, not appearing in the West until it hit DS in 2007. This PS3, 360 and PC game will continue the story which is now set in 2171. The series itself is well established and from the look of it, Evolved will continue its predecessors’ robo-suit tactics. It also features mechs called Wanzers. Don't you just love unfortunate contractions of German words?
94 – EA Sports MMA (Multi)
EA passed up the chance to sign up the official UFC license before THQ put it in a chokehold, but now they’re ready to compete in the octagon with a game of their own. If they use a control system that can revolutionise, like Total Punch Control did for Fight Night, then EA Sports MMA could prove to be a worthy adversary for to UFC Undisputed.
93 – Splatterhouse (Multi)
We have our doubts about this reboot of the bizarre, gruesome 16-bit series – it’s rarely a good sign when a publisher actually yanks a game out of a developer’s hands – but its promise of buckets of gore, coupled with a hero who routinely gets torn apart worse than Wolverine, have us just intrigued enough to be cautiously optimistic. Can it give grown-up fans of the oozing original the horror thrills they want? We should find out later this year.
92 – Homefront (Multi)
Kaos Studios’ FPS won’t see the first time we’ve blasted our way through a foreign invasion of the USA, but if all turns out well, Homefront’s futuristic tale of Korea’s American infiltration could be a fair bit more interesting than Modern Warfare 2’s brilliant but incoherent Russian-themed equivalent. It promises to tell the story of a suppressed and demoralised US fighting for survival, but the most interesting reason to pay attention at the moment is that the script is by one John Milius, of Apocalypse Now and Red Dawn fame.
91 – Infinite Space (DS)
Announced at the same time as Bayonetta and MadWorld, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that Platinum Games has a sci-fi RPG in the works as well. Apparently a great amount of depth comes from just customizing your ship and its crew as they explore (and battle) across several galaxies. The 3D combat looks great and the appealing anime cutscenes make this feel more like a console release than a handheld. Should be epic.