January 16, 2010

Most Anticipated Xbox 360 Games of 2010, Part II

Here are my remaining three Most Anticipated Xbox Games of 2010 (in alphabetical order).  Click here if you missed Part I.

BioShock 2
Release Date:  February 9th

Excited about ... diving back into Rapture and continuing the most engaging story I've experienced in a long time.  BioShock the First blew my mind.  I was drowned in the immersive locale, the result of Andrew Ryan's fallen underwater utopia-turned-dystopia; the solid new FPS mechanics of the Plasmid; and most of all the maturity of the story, proving to the world that games aren't always mindless exercises in hand-eye coordination.  With influences from, but not really in favor of, Ayn Rand, the game serves to show how life running amuck simply creates muck (apparently the Ten Commandments still apply under the oceans).  Added to the political and philosophical undertones is also a well-crafted mystery with, in my opinion, one of the top story twists of all time.  If you haven't played BioShock, you are truly missing out on video game art, so please, please, please play it (unless you're underage, then please have your parent's permission) before you play the sequel.  BioShock should have been given more Game of the Year awards in 2007, was by far the best game, and its sequel is my #1 most anticipated title of 2010.

Afraid of ...  multiplayer.  I don't want to jump to any conclusions because I know developer 2K Marin brought on another team to focus on the MP element so those responsible for the single player experience weren't pulled in two directions *inhale!* ... but it still seems tacked on to appease the masses.  Only time and play will tell.  Also, high expectations on this one.

Final Fantasy XIII
Release Date:  March 9th

Excited about ... FINAL FANTASY FOR THE XBOX!!!  One of the turning points in my gaming career was deciding to trade in my PS2 three years ago to focus on Microsoft's new system.  It was hard.  I knew I would have to give up some of my all time favorite games:  the Kingdom Hearts, the Metal Gear Solids, Shadow of the Colossus, ICO, and the Final Fantasies.  Good things come to those who wait ... but awesome things come to those who don't expect it!  I was one of those FF-though-Xbox-owner lovers who dumbfoundedly cheered while PS3 fanboys dumbfoundedly tried to pick up their betrayed exclusive hearts.  Say what you want about 3/4 of the game being cutscenes.  Those are some beautiful cutscenes!  The stories are typically deep and emotional, epic and planetary.  Say what you want about "not really fighting but telling little figures what to do and watch them do it."  Okay, think about it, you've just described every video game ever made.  To each, his own, and I just can't wait for this one.  The fantasy just keeps on going.

Afraid of ... repeating any of FF XII's stupidity.  Hailed by many, I disliked XII because the story and gameplay sucked.  I give Square-Enix props for newifying the battle system, but talk about "not actually fighting."  They took it to new extremes by making it possible for the simplest of controls, the left stick only.  Of course, this was all by choice and I really only did that for an hour or so before I was disgustedly bored.  And the license system that makes all weapons available to all characters?!?  Can you picture Wakka using anything other than his blitzball, or Cloud wearing one of Red XIII's combs, running up and gnawing a Cactaur?  Weapon specialization is important!  Furthermore, the characters were bland; Vaan was a pimple that wouldn't pop.  Balthier, hands down, became the star of that story, whatever story there was.  Did the "villain," Vayne, ever actually do anything evil?  I liked it when I first began it, and leveled up for 3 months or so before the final fight (mostly chasing after those initially-awesome-eventually-pointless monster hunts), and I want that time back.  But we're talking about FF XIII ... so it better not make me repeat all this for FF XIV.

WEIRD UPDATE:  I found an article about a Hong Kong magazine that gave FF XIII a 4/10!  I'm still definitely giving it a chance, hoping I don't suffer the same dragging feeling I had with XII

Halo: Reach
Release Date:  September 1st (that is, according to GameStop)

Excited about ... a new, and "new," Halo.  Do I even need to say how important Bungie's chef-d'oeuvre has been to video games?  You might hate the story, get all "uggh" at the fact that we been given three more games after finishing the fight, or have broken many a wireless controller after being no-scope-sniped on Guardian (again), but for all it's worth, everything about the franchise is pretty solid.  Bungie's tagline for Reach is "From the beginning, you know the end."  What intrigues me most is the story arc of how we're going to get to that ending, and how different will the gameplay be if we're not a Master Chief Spartan (are we still going to jump around while firing?  When's that Beta, Bungie?!?)?  An infinitesimal amount of new details came out this week, revealing the names of the Spartan protagonists, "armor" abilities, and the given presence of multiplayer.  If all works out, Reach really could be what some are claiming as the biggest title of 2010.

Afraid of ... any retread of any of the failures of ANY of the previous Halos.  The franchise ain't perfect.  Some lows in the series for me:  Halo 1's infamous backtracking; Halo 2's terrible cliffhanger of an ending; trying to be awesome in Halo 3's multiplayer; Halo Wars' lack of a Covenant campaign (not that I want Reach to have a Covenant campaign, that would just be wrong); and ODST's excellent but flat in the end story.  These are somewhat minor quibbles, but Reach is supposed to be the BIGGEST of this year.  I'm afraid of it falling short of such spartanic expectations (and "spartanic" is definitely a word).

So, ladies and gents, these have been the games that I am eagerly anticipating as of this writing.  EA, amongst others talking about their 2011 fiscal years, has recently announced some titles that may or may not be released this year that I'm sure would be present on this quick list (Dead Space 2 for one), but with the end of 2009 seeing so many delays into this year I wouldn't be surprised if some of those are delayed as well.  2010 certainly looks promising.  Let me know what you're excited about!

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