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GameZone Looks Back on 2009 and Takes a Peek at 2010

December 29, 2009

GameZone Looks Back on 2009 and Takes a Peek at 2010
By Louis Bedigian

It was a great year for innovation and titles; but the coming year could be even better 

New motion controllers, new music games, Call of Duty controversies and one too many delays – 2009 was a big year for video games and GameZone was there to capture every second of it. Join us as we look back on 2009 and take a peek at 2010.

The Biggest Announcements

Natal: Microsoft didn’t shock the world when it unveiled its new motion-specific control option for the Xbox 360, but it definitely got the world’s attention. Built with the promise of hand, arm, leg and body-based motions – all with zero involvement of a game controller – Natal is poised to be quite the revolution when it’s released in…well, we don’t know yet. But rest assured that Microsoft will continue to tease and tantalize with new details in the coming months. Read more: Xbox 360’s “Project Natal” Awakens Imagination of Global Video-Game Industry.

Sony Motion Controller: Natal may have gotten the world’s attention for what it could do, but it’s Sony who might have the last laugh – and offer the most fun games – with what its motion controller will do. Developed with true 1:1 motion technology that lets you interact with games with real-time precision, the not-yet-officially-titled motion controller for PlayStation 3 will be supported by games like Ape Escape and Echochrome 2. Two of these controllers can be used by one player, opening the door for unique experiences that could change everything we know about video games. Read more: Motion Controller for PlayStation 3 to Become Available in Spring 2010.

Music Madness: Guitar Hero 5, Band Hero, DJ Hero, The Beatles: Rock Band – 2009 was definitely the year for music-loving gamers. While the former two were fairly familiar iterations in the long-running Guitar Hero series, DJ Hero was Activision’s latest step into new musical territory. Meanwhile, Harmonix gave Beatles fans the game they’ve been waiting their whole lives to play. Read more: Guitar Hero 5 review, DJ Hero review, Band Hero review and The Beatles: Rock Band review.

Two New Mario Games: Despite developing some of the best software, Nintendo isn’t typically sequel-friendly. Rather than give us multiple Mario titles on each console, the company prefers to release one true Mario game per platform. That changed at E3 ‘09 when Nintendo announced that NEW Super Mario Bros. Wii (the sequel to the 2006 DS classic) and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (the sequel to the Wii masterpiece) would be coming to Nintendo Wii. Read more: NEW Super Mario Wii. review and E3 2009: Nintendo Media Briefing.

Super Mario Galaxy will return in 2010.

The Biggest Games 

Dragon Age: Origins, Assassin’s Creed 2, NEW Super Mario Wii, Uncharted 2, Wii Sports Resort, Halo 3: ODST and Halo Wars are just some of the huge hits to come out of 2008. But only one game broke multiple records for sales and pre-orders, all the while sparking a major controversy that people are still talking about: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Banking on the success of the first Modern Warfare – which is considered by many to be the premiere shooter of the generation, if not the best FPS ever made – Activision didn’t have to work hard to build interest for the sequel. Really, all the publisher had to do was give us the title, show off some gameplay footage, and wait while the lines began to form at retailers.

Those lines helped Modern Warfare 2 earn $550 million in just five days – a record that is not only new to the game industry but to the film and music industries as well. Granted, the base price of Modern Warfare 2 is $60; the ultimate package (which included real night-vision goggles) retailed for $150. But let’s not forget that video games are still not entirely mainstream; while everyone and their brother may have paid $8 to $10 to see Transformers, only game players will buy Modern Warfare 2. In spite of that, it still came out on top.

Read GameZone’s review to find out if the Modern Warfare 2 was worth its record-breaking sales – and insurmountable hype.

Call of Duty: bigger than ever.

The Biggest Delays

Due to “unforeseen circumstances” (and other explanations developers and publishers love to give), here are a few of 2009’s finest titles that you’ll be playing in 2010, courtesy of their delays: BioShock 2, Bayonetta, Splinter Cell and Dark Void.

The Biggest Things to Come

We haven’t seen a winter gaming spree like this in a while. Starting on January 6, 2010, there will be a plethora of intriguing, potentially must-play games to get lost in. The aforementioned Bayonetta and Dark Void are two of January’s biggest stars; the former is pure Devil May Cry-crushing action while the latter could redefine what it means to mix aerial and on-foot combat.

BioShock 2, due in February, promises to deliver just what the fans have been waiting for, including multiplayer content that, if the single-player action of the first game is any indication, could very well revolutionize the way we game online.

Nothing like a Little Sister to lend a helping hand.

Heavy Rain is another one of February’s heavy-hitters. Developed with the art of cinematic storytelling in mind, this “game” hopes to extend the innovative concepts of its unofficial predecessor – Indigo Prophecy – while introducing things the world has never seen.

Call of Duty may lead the pack as the number-one shooter, but that won’t stop millions of players from rushing to buy Lost Planet 2 when it arrives. Using the philosophy that more of the same is fully acceptable as long as it results in a game that’s bigger, better, and much more exciting, Lost Planet 2 looks – and plays – like it was developed to be a game that’s impossible to resist.

Wii owners should get a special treat in the form of Red Steel 2, the first third-party game to be ballsy enough to support the Wii MotionPlus exclusively. If you don’t have the attachment, you can’t play the game. Though that might sound like a ridiculous marketing ploy, there’s a good reason for it: by focusing all their attention on the motion controls, the developers are aiming to create the kind of action game they had strived to design – but ultimately failed – with the first Red Steel.

Final Fantasy fans will finally get to know if the long-awaited 13th chapter is everything they’ve been hoping for when FFXIII is released in March. It is, at the very least, one of the most visually breathtaking games of the coming year. But will the story, music and gameplay elements be equally as compelling? That’s what we’re hoping for, and that’s why we’ll continue to lose sleep for the next three months.

Final Fantasy XIII anticipation: voted the number-one cause of insomnia among gamers.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the PSP sequel that few expected to see, is slated to sneak its way into retailers this May. Influenced by Solid Snake’s most recent outing, Peace Walker is going to be one of the PSP’s most exciting releases. 

Later in the year, we’ll no doubt hear more about Natal, Sony’s motion controller, and the rumored (and Nintendo-hinted) motion-controlled Zelda game. Beyond that, one can only speculate on what the industry’s next move will be. It seems that it is a little too early for new handhelds, but that won’t stop the rumor mills from revealing new details on the expected follow-ups to the Nintendo DS and the PSP. Will Apple jump the gun and surprise the world with their long-rumored game-dedicated machine? Or will the iPhone-creator wait until 2011 when the next-gen handheld battle really heats up?

Whatever happens, GameZone will be there once more, eagerly awaiting the next evolution in the world’s greatest entertainment medium.

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