Gaming is a lot like RIT’s female-to-male ratio: It gets better with every passing year. With the magnitude of last year’s success in the video game industry, 2009 has some big shoes to fill. Let’s take a look at what the Year of the Ox has to offer.
This year, Nintendo promises to cater to you, the gamer, and not your mother — that means less with the Wii Fit and more with the being a good ol’ couch potato.
Get ready to wipe that dust off your Wii, because the classic fan favorite Punch-Out!! returns sometime this year, as will the sequel to the N64 cult favorite Sin & Punishment. Nintendo’s fall lineup is still a complete mystery, so expect a big announcement sometime in the upcoming months. The big N has hinted that a new Legend of Zelda is currently in development, but I wouldn’t stain my shorts just yet — the chances of it seeing a 2009 release are slim. Other great titles to look forward to include the Japanese RPG Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, the insanely violent MadWorld (YouTube it; you won’t be disappointed), and the promising first person shooter game, The Conduit. The sequel to Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, is on the way as well. Tell your mom not to worry.
Microsoft is usually tight-lipped about their blockbuster titles until about halfway through the year, so little is known about their ’09 menu. From the creators of Age of Empires, Halo Wars, a real-time strategy game based on the Halo franchise, will be released on February 28. Along with it, the Master Chief-less expansion pack, Halo 3: ODST, is scheduled for the fourth quarter and should keep Halo fans engaged. That’s it for the exclusives, but Microsoft assures fans that something big is in store for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), gaming’s biggest showpiece event, in June.
In the Sony world, last year didn’t go too well, so they’re hoping 2009 will prove a bit more fruitful. Expect 2009 to be the year where PS3 provides games that are visually superior to the Xbox 360 offerings (as the console’s hardware specs have been promising all along). The futuristic shooter Killzone 2 comes out on February 27, with visuals that will melt your eyelids; you will simply not have seen a better-looking console game, period. The ultra-realistic, emotionally engaging, adult thriller Heavy Rain will then disintegrate whatever bits of eyelid are remaining.
God of War 3 is currently in production and has a good chance of making it to store shelves by fall, so cross your fingers. The Playstation Network online store will be seeing some impressive, low-priced, downloadable games like Fat Princess and Fl0wer. With the economic crisis at hand, expect a $30-$50 product price drop sometime in the near future. If all goes well, this year should be a good one for the PS3, as Sony works hard to overcome memories of last year’s unmet expectations.
The multiplatform games of 2009 might just steal the spotlight from the console exclusive titles. The Street Fighter series will see a much-anticipated revival when Street Fighter IV hits stores on February 17. Resident Evil 5 will have you going number one (or number two) in your seat on March 13, which, coincidentally, happens to be Friday the 13th. For summer, the Ghostbusters game, due on June 16, will pick up where the last movie left off.
If you have ever wondered what Devil May Cry would be like if it starred a Sarah Palin lookalike with a shape shifting hairdo, don’t miss out on the impressive looking Bayonetta. Also, because sequels sell so well, expect them from some of 2007’s best games (Call of Duty 4, Bioshock and Mass Effect in particular) later in the year. Other noteworthy mentions include Batman: Arkham Asylum, Brutal Legend (starring Jack Black), Bionic Commando, and I Am Alive.
The portable side of gaming won’t be hiding in the shadows any time soon, either. The DSi, Nintendo’s latest iteration of the DS, should hit shelves by the summer. In the meantime, Final Fantasy: Dissidia (think Final Fantasy meets Smash Bros) should sell plenty of PSPs. Finally, be prepared to take the iPhone a bit more seriously as a gaming platform; Konami will be releasing a Metal Gear Solid 4 spin-off for touch screens everywhere. Stay tuned.