Most Anticipated Games in 2011

Developer Rocksteady had a bonafide hit with 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum, arguably the best comic book video game ever made. The sequel, Batman: Arkham City releases this fall.

2010 has come and gone and while it’s so much fun thinking about all the good memories of the year, we as gamers usually thrive on the future. Lets face it, it’s fun getting your hands on the newest game but no matter what killer release has just come out you can’t help but get a look at what’s to come. As always, there’s a slew of great titles coming this year and I am making a mad dash to clear out my “to play” pile to make room for all of them.

Just Around The Corner

People Can Fly are the sick minds behind Bulletstorm, a game that encourages creative kills with point bonuses and often-hilarious death animations. It drops next month on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.

Last year was plagued with delays both for developmental and marketing reasons, but now many are ready to go. In January alone you can look forward to Dead Space 2, a gem that impressed with its first installment and the sequel (at least from the demo I’ve played) looks to improve on the formula. Those looking for something a little cuter just past the holidays can pick up LittleBigPlanet 2, which judging from what we’ve seen so far will allow you to make almost anything your heart desires. Lets hope that with this newfound creativity and flexibility more amazing talent emerges than the occasional prodigies we saw in the original. Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game fans will also be pleased to see both the PC and PS3 versions of DC Universe Online will be going live early in the month. This brawler-style MMO allows you to take attributes of many of your favorite DC characters and create the ultimate superhero/villain. PS3 fans have also probably not forgotten that January marks the release of Mass Effect 2 on Sony’s console and includes an interactive comic where the player makes important decisions from Mass Effect (which never was released on PS3).

Many other titles were delayed into the infamous “Spring 2011” category including LA Noire, which has been in development so long that I can’t say I’d be surprised if Rockstar misses this target. Crysis 2, a visual stunner making its debut on consoles, was delayed from Fall 2010 to March 2011 and for those of us that have seen and played it, this can’t come out fast enough. While it may seem like Halloween is a better time for release than St. Patty’s Day, the oddly delayed Fear 3 will finally grace us with its presence as well. Let’s hope that Nintendo’s newest Zelda title, Skyward Sword, which was delayed from Holiday 2010, will hit store shelves in March. We were also supposed to see Gears of War 3 in April, but due to marketing delays it won’t release until this fall. Gamers will supposedly benefit from the delay, however, as Epic games has announced that it will work on dedicated server and stronger multiplayer matchmaking support as a result of the longer development time.

Speaking of Gears of War, developer Epic will be releasing Bulletstorm this year, which looks to be a frantic first-person shooter that awards you for how innovative you can be about taking out opponents. With a sharp-tongued protagonist and ultra violent feel, it’s just what you’ve come to expect from the studio that brought us Gears.

Sequels Abound

Developer Rocksteady had a bonafide hit with 2009's Batman: Arkham Asylum, arguably the best comic book video game ever made. The sequel, Batman: Arkham City releases this fall.

As development costs and schedules go through the roof (not to mention the high failure rate of original titles in 2010), the mad dash of sequels is to be expected. Fans of almost any genre can expect s new iteration in 2011. With some of the best graphics I’ve seen this generation, Killzone 3 looks to be a strong competitor for shooters this year and it will even come with Move and 3D support. Don’t worry those of you who aren’t jumping on the high-priced “innovation” bandwagon, it was initially developed for traditional gameplay with controllers. Dragon Age 2 is also expected in March, a huge follow-up to 2009’s RPG hit and with a firm release date and no mention of delays it’s about time to finish up that Awakening add-on you’ve been putting off.

Valve has never been big on set release dates, so it’s no wonder that Portal 2 has already been pushed back once or twice, but ideally it will come out in April. As one of our most anticipated titles of 2011, Portal 2 will be a great and entertaining way to start the spring. After that are a collection of sequels we haven’t had much of a chance to see but will hopefully make appearances on the summer convention circuit: Batman Arkham City, inFamous 2, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 and even the recently announced Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Mass Effect 3 is set to release near the end of the year but like most gamers, that’s not really something we need previews on – we just want to get our hands on the game and see what eventually happens to Commander Shepard. Classic revamps for PC titles like X-Com, Duke Nukem Forever and Deux Ex: Human Revolution will all take their crack on consoles as well.

The fighting genre has slipped into niche status since its domination in the ’90s but with the recent release of Street Fighter IV it seems the only thing fighters needed was to return to 2D. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is coming out in March and has fans of the series extremely psyched, especially because it looks like the roster is all but endless.

After a disappointingly Teen-rated Mortal Kombat vs. DC, Midway has returned to the series' roots with over-the-top fatalities and gore

While the Mortal Kombat franchise has had mixed success in recent years, the return to form sequel coming this year seems to be more like a hodgepodge of the first three games. With crazy new moves, an x-ray injury system and off the wall fatalities, this new title has everyone talking. Having gotten my hands on it last summer, I was immediately in love with how it felt just like the original three titles I played growing up. It seems that fighters might finally be back.

New to the Scene

Just because new franchises are risky doesn’t discourage some developers from trying to innovate. If it weren’t for some of these big releases we might be stuck with nothing but the next Call of Duty or Final Fantasy in the future. Homefront, a neo-future shooter that delves into what the United States would be like if Korea unified and invaded, looks to be a nice new addition. While it’s true that we don’t need anymore military shooters, alternative reality stories can be tempting as long as they are more Resistance and less Turning Point: Fall of Man. A title that I have yet to see much coverage on since Bethesda’s booth last summer is Hunted, a third-person, cover-based cooperative title that is best described as a fantasy adventure Gears of War. With one character controlling the melee-based warrior and another as the long-ranged elf, it seems to change up the formula of co-op shooters from who has better aim to covering each other.

Brink has been in development for quite a while and hopes to create a campaign out of a persistent online universe. Basically it’s like an MMO shooter with multiple objectives and other players online being the enemy – since both groups will have crossing objectives, fighting is inevitable to achieve your goal and thus create a dynamic campaign structure. Finally there’s Rage, the first original title from Doom and Wolfenstein developer id Software, which looks to be Fallout 3 as a first-person shooter. Because most of the gameplay has been hands off up to this point, it’s hard to describe how it feels but from the demos we’ve seen it’s going to be a great title. Your character will work with factions, create/repair weapons and explore a huge world that will take countless hours to conquer.

Gaming in your Pocket

Nintendo's 3DS portable gaming system features true 3D graphics without the aid of special glasses or lenses. It debuts this spring, price unannounced.

It’s important not to forget about those portable consoles, the ones that accompany most of us on our vacations and business trips. First and foremost is Nintendo’s upcoming glassesless-3D console, the 3DS. Shrouded in mystery to the public, this is a console you have to see to believe, but once you do you’re sure to want one (I speak from personal experience). While the release window is supposedly March (we expect it to be delayed) and most of the announced games are classic Nintendo revamps or re-releases of older games, 3DS has the potential to be huge. It comes at a price, though, as it could be as much as $300 (no price announced yet) and Nintendo recently stated that battery life will be about half of the DS Lite’s.

For those sticking to the original DS, 2011 looks to be another year for RPGs and puzzlers. Professor Layton will get another sequel as well as the crazy mash-up Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. Critic pleaser Okami will also get a sequel on the DS with Okamiden, which is expected for an early 2011 release. On the PSP front it’s a slightly different mix with JRPGs and Japanese fan service. The SNES title Tactics Ogre gets a facelift – for those that aren’t familiar with this tactical RPG it was one of the first titles where almost every decision you made affected the world. PSX’s ultra rare cult classic Parasite Eve will get a third installment, now renamed to 3rd Birthday due to licensing issues, and is already a crowd pleaser in Japan. There haven’t been that many more announcements for portables, but titles for these platforms often get announced and released much faster than home consoles so expect plenty of surprises this year.

Welcome 2011

It’s going to be another great year in gaming and there’s plenty to be excited about. Some of us are already dreading the massive pile of titles that will go into the inevitable “pile of shame” that we are still frantically trying to work through from 2010. As for us, the biggest titles to keep an eye on are Mass Effect 3, Rage, Portal 2, Bulletstorm and personal favorite Mortal Kombat. The New Year is here so bring on the titles, we can’t wait for any of them.