You've just survived 2010. Your wallet has taken a beating from being practically forced to buy titles for your machine out of pure awesomeness. Halo: Reach, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Heavy Rain, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Mass Effect 2, Starcraft II, Bayonetta, Red Dead Redemption, God of War III, BioShock 2, Medal of Honor, and the list continues - and that didn't even include the price you paid if you wanted to get the Rock Band 3 keyboard, Kinect or the PlayStation Move.
This chapter features some of the big hitting titles that will be topping the sales charts in 2011. Most of these games will grab you by the throat and demand you buy them day one. Mixed in, though, are some IPs that were forgotten and are coming back.
Without further ado, here is Part III of 2011: The Year to Come In Games.
To borrow a tag from Halo 3: It's time to finish the fight. The final, haunting image of Mass Effect 2 were the invading Reaper fleet making their way into our galaxy, ready to harvest the Milky Way. The only hope for humanity and the rest of the galaxy: Commander Shepard, whom gamers have nurtured and developed over the course of two previous games.
One of the strengths of the series have been players customizing their Shepard, from looks to decisions that have had a lasting effect from the first game to the second game. No other RPG has ever allowed players to define their and evolve the protagonist so much. Mass Effect 2 hinted at how events in the third game might be affected, such as whether you killed Wrex or not in the first game, or whether or not Shepard spared the Rachni queen from execution. It's probable that romantic conflicts will arise from lovers in the first game with those in the second game (unless you romanced the alien Liara and continued it in the second game's "Lair of the Shadow Broker" downloadable content.) Whatever the case, fans will be itching to see how the trilogy is resolved Holiday 2011.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
One of the most popular turn-based strategy game series returns in 2011. Heroes of Might & Magic successfully combined strategic-level planning with tactical combat, becoming the standard in its genre. Most fans state that the series peaked with the third game, while Heroes of Might & Magic V unwisely did not include a map editor, which crimped the series' biggest feature: user-generated content.
Fortunately, the developers of VI have stated there will be an editor. The game will also include boss fights, a town conversion functionality and a reputation system, and half of the units to recruit will be new creature types. The game will now only have one resource type (crystal), which will simplify city and unit development and purchasing. The campaign will take place before the events of the fifth game. Whatever the case, it's been four years since Heroes of Might & Magic V was released - Might & Magic: Heroes VI is long overdue.
Mortal Kombat staked its reputation more on its gory finishing moves, being lampooned by The Simpsons as "Bonestorm", rather than actual gameplay. The game also featured cheesy even by mid-90's standards video captured sprites. As other games like Street Fighter and Virtua Fighter evolved, Mortal Kombat stagnated, focusing on including more finishing moves like Friendships and Babalties.
After experimenting with Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, Mortal Kombat is back, and this time its ready to be taken seriously. Using the game 2.5D combat featured in Street Fighter IV, strategic combat is required to win; taking a page from Tekken, there are four attack buttons that each represent a corresponding limb. That's not to say the series' signature goriness is absent. There is a new super combo called the Xray Combo in which you can viscerally see the damage being done to an opponent, looking inside the body to see ribs cracking, spleens being punctured, spines fracturing. And as for Fatalities, it's best said that the game's graphics allow some of the most nauseating gore this side of Splatterhouse - fans will be pleased.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Although it's already seen its release in Japan, Pokemon Black & White will be storming American and European shores this coming Spring, in time for the release of the Nintendo 3DS. The game will take full advantage of the new handheld's 3D capability; of all the games that will be released during the 3DS's launch, it is Pokemon that will be the system seller.
The reason for excitement over Black & White is that the game will feature an all-new 3D environment to stroll around in, and will be the first Pokemon game in a long while to have an new storyline, this time focusing around the villainous Team Plasma, which represents itself as a sort of "Pokemon Liberation Front". The game will also not only feature a day/night cycle, but a seasonal one as well, so there will be rare season-linked Pokemon to hunt. The game will also feature "3 vs. 3" battles, a new alternate dimension land called the Dream World, and special online Wi-Fi modes that allow players to not only compete but engage in special co-op gameplay. Pokemon Black & White will be the bellweather of the Nintendo 3DS's success, but it will also be playable on regular DS's as well.
Platform: Nintendo DS
Portal was the surprise hit of The Orange Box back in 2007, not only for its clever teleportation-based gameplay, but its clever wit and the memorable character of GlaDOS, a sapient computer that cajoled, insulted and, well, lied to the player. It became a fountain of internet memes, from fibs about cakes to unrequited love for companion cubes. If there was any complaint about Portal, it was its brevity. Players wanted more. In 2011, they get it, and it will be the size of a full game release.
The game takes place hundreds of years after the events of the first game, and somehow Chell has been preserved to deal with the level puzzles strewn throughout the Aperture Science Facility, which has become overgrown with vegetation in the meantime. It doesn't help that GlaDOS is indeed still alive - and yes, she is still doing science. The game will be released in April 2011. You monster.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Rage can best be described as the bastard son of Fallout 3 and Motorstorm, after the two met in a bar, got stinking drunk, and had a threesome with Borderlands. It will also be the debut of the id Tech 5 engine that is powering Doom 4 and possibly The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though the latter is only an unconfirmed rumor.
The game features racing, combat, and roleplaying aspects, but the real star is the engine, which far outstrips what Fallout 3 could do, and has a more real look to it than the cel-shaded Borderlands. The game simply looks amazing, with great-looking terrain and detailed character models. The game is due to be released in September 2011.
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Resistance: Fall of Man was the best-selling launch title of the PlayStation 3, and now, the fourth game in the series - if you include the PlayStation Portable's Retribution - lands on the PS3, but without Nathan Hale, who had his brains splattered by squadmate Corp. Joseph Capelli in a mercy kill as he had nearly completed his transformation into one of the Chimera in Resistance 2.
Resistance 3 takes a radically different tack from the first two games, as the protagonist is now Capelli, who has been discharged from the military and is in hiding in Oklahoma with civilian survivors, along with his wife and child. When he's contacted by Dr. Malikov to wipe out the occupying Chimera forces in New York City, he takes up Hale's sword in a quest for redemption. Resistance 3 will be landing on PS3's in September 2011.
Platform: PlayStation 3
That concludes Part III of 2011: The Year to Come in Games, but never fear! There's still more exciting titles left to show off in the final article of this series in Part IV. We saved some of the best for last, so stayed tuned.