Monday, 12 January 2009

[News] The Year Ahead - Part One

So here we are, 2009...and we're still not living on the moon, oh well...

Last year was a fantastic year for gaming. The PS3 finally started making its mark (that much so, that I now also have one!), the Wii continued to show that it wasn't just a gimmick and the 360 (albeit had its hardware problems) had a very good year of sales.

So, what about this coming year? Well, it hasn't started amazingly well for a selection of the industry, with major reduncies coming from most of the big name studios (EA, Sony and Microsoft naming three) as the financial situation contiues to worsen. Even the gaming media has felt the full force of credit crunch with the demise of the popular US publication Electronic Gaming Monthly, and the selling of the online gaming site 1UP.

What can we be looking forward to be playing on our consoles this year?

Xbox 360: Its going to be a quieter year for Microsoft now that we've seen Gears of War 2, Fable 2 and the New Xbox Experiance update for the console's dashboard. Saying that, we do have more Halo goodness to look forward to this year. I'm also looking forward to more appearing on Xbox Live, in the way of downloadable content for their AAA exclusive titles. I can see Microsoft further tempting gamers who have both a 360 and a PS3 to buying their multi-platform releases, such as Resident Evil 5, on the 360 instead of the PS3 by more exclusive deals offering extra online content and such. Speaking of which, we'll get to see Rockstar's 2 new 360 exclusive downloadable content for GTA this year.

Playstation 3: With the arrival of the Playstation Home beta just before Christmas, expect a whole host of improvements and additions to its online MMO style community, which will make or break it, as at the moment it has its work cut out to be a true selling point for the console. Sony will be pushing its first party titles, such as Killzone 2 (of which a demo will be avalible on the PSN to download in the near future) and the eventual release of its flagship racing title Gran Turismo 5. Losing the exclusive rights to Final Fantasy XIII will have left a bitter taste in Sony's mouths, however they still get Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts 3 all to themselves.

Nintendo Wii: Wii games have dominated the UK sales charts this year. Its sold very well over the Christmas period yet again, so kudos for Nintendo, who have proved everyone wrong with the direction they took with their next generation console. However, they need to keep people playing and they are still struggling to get third party studios to make the most of the hardware. It also needs to take a look at its more 'hardcore' gamers, as its easy to see its core market is more towards the casual gamers. Sega's Madworld is one to look out for this year (for those old enough to play it, as it'll probably be an 18 rated title) as its looking the part, and will tap into fans of the under rated title of 2008 No More Heroes.

PC: Last year saw the rise and fall of a couple of highly anticapted MMO's. Tabula Rasa sadly failed to leave its mark, with the games servers now being shut down. Even today, news has surfaced about Age of Conan taking steps to stay online by merging and closing some of its servers. Warhammer Online started well, and has continued to improve, while the MMO it strives to be more popular than (none other, than World of Warcraft) saw the launch of its 2nd expansion. So will this be another PC year of gaming dominated by MMOs? I don't think so... Although their are a few in devolpment (Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Trek Online, and ofcourse Lego!) a fair number of them won't be ready for release this year. No, I personally feel this will be the year for RTS fans, with the arrival of the new Starcraft, Dawn of War 2, Company of Heroes and Supreme Commander 2 to name a few. Its battle against piracy will continue to be a major factor.

[Keep an eye open for Part Two, which will mention the PSP and DS, aswell as more on the financial problems striking the industry]

Aswell as all this, their is a whole host of multi-platform releases. Resident Evil 5 is looking to continue on from the popularity of Resident Evil 4 and its forerunners, while Square will be hopeing for big sales from Final Fantasy XIII, which not forgetting, will be avalible on both the 360 and the PS3. Street Fighter 4, Bioshock 2, Assasins Creed 2, Ghostbusters... the list goes on...

One scary fact which has really sunk home while typing this article is the lack of new original titles. They seem lost amognst the tide of sequels.

My gaming hopes for this year? A UK release of Studio Ghilbi's DS title (from Level 5, the studio that gave us Professor Layton) Ninokuni. Oh, and some sort of agreement for the 'nearly finished' Goldeneye to appear on Xbox Live Arcade...c'mon Nintendo/Microsoft/Rare/Activision...sort it out!!

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