The Year Ahead, Part One

Below is the first part of our intricate guide for PC gaming in 2010. There’s a horde of muscular-looking titles on the horizon, many of them likely to stop you and demand your money, like ludological bandits. Meanwhile, others that we expected to land, such The Old Republic, have already fled to 2011. Read on as the clouds in our crystal ball roll back…

The strongest echo at the RPS sonar station is from Mass Effect 2, which is set to arrive on the 29th of this month. The science fiction RPG sequel is looking extremely strong, with amped up combat, a darker overall tone, and resolution of plenty of the things we were uncomfortable with in the first game. We’ve recently done an interview with the lead gameplay designer, and we’ve posted a few of the several dozen videos that Bioware have release. Consider the hype machine for this one fully spooled. We have high hopes.

Also this month we should see the start of Star Trek Online. The beta for that is already in progress, so there’s probably not much to be said about it here. I’m going to call this another Cryptic middle-ground MMO. Probably going to have a following, but not be world-changing.

February is going to be busy indeed for the PC platform, as we get Call Of Pripyat in the first few days. The game is already out in Russia and the rest of Europe, and my initial playthrough has given me some hope that this will be a genuinely interesting title. More RPG elements, huge areas, and already the sign of some interesting mods. This could be the precious oxygen that Stalker fanatics (because let’s face it, the basic “fans” doesn’t cut it in this case) need to stay alive and unparalysed by cynicism.

Then there’s Bioshock 2. This emerges from the depths around the 9th of February, and should cause a major stir one way or another. I think we’ll even see plenty of people who were dissatisfied with the first Bioshock returning to sample this one. The attraction to a vaguely immersive shooter is just too great. I’m personally very interested to just see what the level designs have got up to with Rapture, and I know that there will be at least a handful of breath-taking moments in there. We should have a review of that coming up relatively soon, anyway.

Shooters, it seems, will be well served in February, because we’re also expecting Aliens Vs Predator to turn up around the 16th of the month. I think it’s fair to say that we’re cautiously excited. Not all the experiences at preview have been entirely positive, with some reports of clunky, clumsy sequences with various characters. Hopefully nasty bumps will be ironed out by the time we get it, because we could really do with a tense, hell-for-leather shooter.

Shooters aren’t just going to be offline single player in February, either, because we’re also going to get Global Agenda. You really should be paying attention to this one. It’s a complex team-based game with persistent territory conflict as well as jump-in-and-kill-stuff type opportunities. I suspect it’s going to be overlooked by much of the mainstream press, which would be a shame. Hi-Rez studios are saying all the right things, and have change on their minds. I hope this turns out to be as good as it looks.

We’re also expecting to get our hands on the PC version of Assassin’s Creed II next month, as the PC release date is the 26th of February. All signs point to this being a lot better than the original, not least the sign provided by it being a lot better than the original on the consoles. I’ve had a bit of a play with the 360 version and enjoyed it much more than the first outing. And I do like that horse.

But it’s not all action and shooters. Napoleon: Total War is scheduled for February too. Sega recently sent over a build of the game, so we’ll try to take a look at this soon. It looks like this is Creative Assembly’s mini-campaign model, as soon in Viking Invasion and Alexander, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the iconic French guy will make for an entertaining subject. All signs point to oui.

There’s even a high-profile racer set to turn up next month, in the form of track-shattering explodo-racer Split/Second. This is supposedly a fun time, in a sort of ultra-violent way, but I can’t admit to having followed its progress very closely. I’ll be interested to see reactions when it arrives.

March continues the strategy theme with Command & Conquer 4, and what is apparently the end of the Tiberium saga, if not the end of the Command & Conquer franchise itself. The radically over-hauled download-only game looked like an interesting test-bed for EA, but the news that they’ve already decided to let the team go doesn’t bode well for future developments in the C&C milieu.

Far more exciting, for me at least, is the Dawn Of War II expansion pack, Chaos Rising, which should turn up some time in March. I’m a sucker for the Chaos faction in Warhammer, so I’ll be fascinated to see how Relic deal with it in their rejigged 40k game. I have to admit I’ve had no inclination to go back to Dawn Of War II, but like the original game and its expansions, I’ve got time set aside in my future for playing everything that comes out.

Also worth getting your hopes up for in March is Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I’ve not paid much attention to the single-player campaign on this, although there are positive noises appearing about it, because the multiplayer looks so solid. The videos we’ve seen so far are really interesting, and I’ve a bit more faith that the DICE/EA team will provide a better balance – and of course dedicated servers – which will make this a far superior experience to Modern Warfare 2’s glitchy multiplayer.

We can also expect Battlefield 1943 to pop up in the next couple of months. It’s been out in console land for ages, but we’re expecting confirmation for PC very soon. I’m not sure I can really bring myself to care about this, as it feels a little disposable as multiplayer games go.

March also threatens more Dragon Age. I have to admit I’ve been hard-pressed to get the original finished, but the expansion might just be brief enough to blast through in a few sittings, so that could lure me back to fun times with Skeletor. Awakening is scheduled for March 16th.

Perhaps March’s most eagerly awaited release, however, is Just Cause 2. Oh how we have laughed at the lunacy of this sandbox action nonsense. It looks entirely absurd, and just the sort of thing we’ll need to shake off those winter blues. It’s not worth me describing it, when these moving pictures can do the job so much more efficiently.

More soon!


  1. Sly Boots says:

    Q1 – the new Q4.

  2. MD says:

    Deus Ex 3 is supposedly due (late) this year too, from what I’ve read.

    Of those you mentioned, my interest lies with Call of Pripyat and Just Cuase 2. If the latter is as good as it promises to be, I will be absolutely thrilled. I’m still not allowing myself any confidence that they’ll actually pull it off to my satisfaction, but, man. Greatness beckons.

    And thanks to my forthcoming mini-upgrade, I should actually be able to play these games! Time to rejoin the hype-train.

    • MD says:

      Sorry, didn’t do enough reading before posting. Obviously you didn’t mention Deus Ex 3, given that it’s not due out in the first quarter.

  3. Rinox says:

    Nice line-up! ME2 on pre-order, rest will depend a little on how critical response will be (and probably crazy steam sales, who am I kidding). Probably getting Awakening as well.

    And I hope Heavy Rain gets a fast and decent port to the PC…

    • Kadayi says:

      I doubt we’ll see Heavy Rain come to the PC. It’s been pushed as a PS3 exclusive for quite a while now.

  4. Ian says:

    Oh God I wish I didn’t have such sure-to-be-dashed expectations about Just Cause 2.

    Please JC2, just be as splendidly stupid as your predecessor.

    • MWoody says:

      I’ll tell you what I tell my backwoods relatives: don’t focus so much on the second coming of JC that you forget to enjoy your life.

  5. bhlaab says:

    Just Cause 2 will either be really really good or really really bad. I don’t expect a good pc port, in any case.

    • Lavitz says:

      Its not a console game, the developers are pc developers the first just Cause from what I recall was just pc or It was by far best on pc.

  6. terry says:

    Obligatory OMG PC GAMING IS DYING etc

    Lots to look forward to there. Mafia 2 will do me all year!

  7. Monchberter says:

    Not forgetting perennial ‘coming soon’ botherer Half-Life 2 Episode 3 and maybe even Crysis 2…

    • Tim Ward says:

      There are rumors to the effect of nothing Half-Life related being released in 2010.

    • Monchberter says:

      I can but dream

    • Kadayi says:

      @Tim Ward

      Episode 2 came out 3 years ago. I’m fully expecting Valve to announce a release of Episode 3, Portal 2 and some kind of multi-player (CS2 as a counter point to MW2 perhaps?) as an Orange box style bundle for release Q4 later this year. If they push it past that, then tbh they might as well of given up on the idea of episodic and just gone all in for HL3 with a new all singing bells and whistles version of the Source Engine.

  8. Magius Paulus says:

    To be honest, i am not impressed, but that is probably because i hate shooters, rts and most rpgs. These days, that means i am automatically sentenced to be an ‘Indie-guy’ i guess

    • Jonas says:

      They still make plenty of racing games, plus the occasional flight sim. And there’s sports games too.

    • Rinox says:

      And sub sims!!

      The only kind of ‘hardcore’ sim my RTS, RPG and FPS-loving heart always seem to fall for, for some reason.

    • EyeMessiah says:

      Me too. I got Silent Hunter 3 in the steam sail. Yay for beards underwater.

  9. GriddleOctopus says:

    Nothing in there that isn’t a sequel. Industry Imagination FAIL.

    • Lack_26 says:

      I assume Star Trek: Online counts as a sequel then? I guess it is a pretty darn established property though.

    • Jonas says:

      Griddle, Star Trek Online isn’t really a sequel to anything. And presumably Alpha Protocol will pop up when they get to the summer segment, so that’s one. Still, you can innovate within existing franchises, Assassin’s Creed II is a decent example of that.

    • GriddleOctopus says:

      True, but it’s still an amazingly dry year for original games from the big publishers. Looks like the Indies are our only hope…

    • David says:

      To be fair, Star Trek Online seem to be a sequel to every other MMO of the last 10 years. At least gameplay wise.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      half of them are sequels half are based on existing ip, it’s no shock that most games are based on existing ip everything in the world ever made by anyone in this day and age is based on existing ip, Gillette can’t release a razor without harking back to previous successful razors why should games be any different.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      oh and you can still make good original games within the constraints of an existing ip, and a bland unoriginal game with a new ip.

  10. wvanh says:

    No love for the Protocols of Alpha?

  11. Jim Rossignol says:


  12. wvanh says:

    But… but… it fits the timeframe… it’s chronologically correct… it’s…

    I got allcaps’d :(

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      it was put back to summer, didn’t you get the memo?

  13. Dante says:

    I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve played of the Star Trek Online beta, I doubt it will get stellar numbers, but I think it’ll develop a different niche to Cryptic’s previous.

    The simple yet fun starship combat is a joy, and despite all the naysayers, has a very different kind of appeal than Eve’s complex yet ponderous drop down menu-fest.

    Plus, Star Trek!

  14. Stijn says:

    I’m missing APB on that list!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      APB is in the next section. I’ve only included stuff with concrete Q1 dates in this piece.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      Goody. Over the past week or so, I’ve just been wondering why no news had popped up on APB.

  15. eto says:

    Ohshit, I thought the backdrop in JC2 was just a skybox

  16. Rive says:

    The older i get the more i feel irritated by this constant general bickering about game releases. Playing games for 25 years now i understand that many games feel unoriginal, but when you like the genres and cant find anything to look forward to in this list you should probably move on and quit playing studio titles in general.

    That said, i cant remember a Q1 packed so full of AAA titles. Looking especially forward to Just Cause 2, Call of Pripyat and Bad Company 2. I clocked well over 2000 hours in Battlefield 2142 and i really really cant wait for the next Battlefield Game. I remain cautiously pessimistic about Bioshock 2. 1 impressed me with the Art Style and the reenvisioning of the Polito Moment in SS2, 2 still seems like a cookie-cutter sequel to me. Ive been in the Global Agenda Beta for quite a while and while it seems like a good and interesting game i decided its not for me. Im also hoping that the WH20K2 expansion packs a serious single-player campaing. Playing it with a mate in coop was a real blast.

    One more thing, i can reassure everyone that APB is very well worth the wait and will probably turn out as revolutionary as it seems to be concerning online gaming.

  17. Heliosicle says:

    Just Cause 2 and STALKER from this list.

    Mass Effect is too close for a “year ahead” list imo.

  18. K. says:

    I know it’s only in Europe, but still – the ANNO 1404 AddOn is due end of February.

    Thought I’d mention it since I know some people that really look forward to it. :)

  19. Blather Bob says:

    That’s a lot of games I’m looking forward to in just the next couple of months!

    I’m not holding out much hope for Bad Company 2 to be much more of a PC game than a sequel to a console shooter, though. I think their marketing folks just saw a weak point on MW2, knew DICE’s reputation, and jumped the gun.

    Sure it will have dedicated servers, but you aren’t allowed to actually run one. There will be only rentals, from “Trusted Partners” who have exclusive access to the dedicated server executables. Further admissions of no mods, no dev console (to cut down on “cheating”), I imagine an admission about FOV will follow on from questions about the lack of a console… they’re announcing another hit against it’s PC-ness every couple of days. I don’t think it will be a bad game, but I do think they were overeager in their attempt to ding MW2 and are now forced to rollback the impression of being a banner carrier for “true” PC games.

    But after nearly missing out RFG (got it in the Steam holiday sale on a lark because it was cheap and had RPS’ recommendation, after ignoring it since release, haven’t played much else since), I’ve realised anything with destructable buildings or terrain has high chances of awesomeness. That and Volition really understand how to make their sandbox games fun, even if they haven’t quite gotten this porting to PC thing down pat yet.

  20. Dr.Danger says:

    Brought a russian version of Call of Prypiat from russia last week. Have been playing it for a few days now, very positive so far. I think this is what the first Stalker should have been.

  21. joseph says:

    Nice. Can’t wait for:

    …maybe JC2

  22. Alastayr says:

    This is just Q1:
    Mass Effect 2 CE – 42€
    Bioshock 2 LE – 48€
    Alien vs. Predator – 25€
    Call Of Pripyat LE – 20€
    Bad Company 2 – 25€
    Chaos Rising – 20€
    Just Cause 2 – 30€

    My wallet, it hurts.

  23. l1ddl3monkey says:

    I’m one of those STALKER fanatics and have Call of Pripyat on advance order, I’m replaying the Ovblivion Lost mod just one more time as a warm up for it (No Clear Sky, I still refuse to acknowledge your existence).

    Also hoping AvP is good and that Bioshock 2 delivers. And cos I’m starting to suffer from Sequel Fatigue (that’s a real illness I just made up) I may have a delve into some Global Agenda.

  24. jsutcliffe says:

    Oh my god. Just Cause 2 looks ludicrous. The perfect antidote to the po-faced serious games I’ve been playing lately.

  25. Moonracer says:

    I was hoping that the Split/Second title had something to do with the Rutger Hauer movie as unlikely as that would be.

  26. Bonedwarf says:

    Just Cause 2 looks insane. I loved the explosion sounds. Never played the first one, and when he climbed on top of the vehicle near the end I thought “Is he going to do what I think he’s going… Holy shit he is! WOW!”

    Definitely interested in that.

    Couldn’t care less about Mass Effect 2 or Bioshock 2. Only just started playing the original Mass Effect, and think Bioshock was merely good. Not the groundbreaking FPS everyone seems to think it is.

    As for STALKER… I’d be up for that, had Clear Sky not thoroughly burned me (never worked right), and I’m still only a few hours into the original Shadows of Chernobyl. (Got on Steam for $5. Annoying it got even cheaper over Christmas.)

  27. Anthony says:

    If you haven’t had the chance to play Assassin’s Creed 2 on a console, it is imperative you make some time for it on the PC.

    It’s just that much better than the original.

  28. Urthman says:

    Crud, I hadn’t realized until now that Just Cause 2 was doing that off-center camera thing.

    How in the world did that become so popular for 3rd person shooters? Gears of War? Is that who I should blame?

    Anyway, it makes my head hurt watching it in the video. Maybe it won’t be so bad if I’m behind the controls.

    • Vinraith says:


      Yeah, I assume it’s Gears of War we should blame, and blame them I shall. Off-center third-person is horrible, I’m not enjoying Red Faction Guerrilla half as much as I suspect I would be if it had a sane camera position.

  29. PJ says:

    What about Elemental War of Magic for us Strategy fans? I am really excited for that after getting my fill of the Fall From Heaven mod of Civ IV

    • PJ says:

      oops. I just saw it in part 2 so move along folks. nothing to see here :-)

  30. Tom Camfield says:

    I think either way Aliens vs Predator should be good: if it’s bad, some lovely modder will no doubt slap a few licks of paint on the engine to make it more, er, original Aliens vs Predator-y, no?

  31. geldonyetich says:

    I just got into the Global Agenda beta yesterday and I can say (partly because the NDA dropped already) that it’s looking a lot like “Huxley Done Right.” Yes, there’s quite a bit of instancing – we’ve yet to see our Planetside 2 – but the balance is very solid and it’s a good game all around.