Expect the Unexpected in 2011: The Last Guardian, XCOM, and Deus Ex

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Screenshot - 817156

Yesterday's 2011 preview from Downloads Manager Mike Splechta showcased games such as TERA, L.A. Noire, Yakuza 4, Torchlight 2 and many others. Today, we present to you 10 more titles to keep an eye out for when the clocks turnover to 2011.

2011 Preview: Pokemon, MMOs, Gangster Action & 3rd Party Wii titles

Test Drive Unlimited 2 Publisher: Atari Developer: Eden Games Platforms: 360, PS3, PC Release Date: Q1 2011

Test Drive Unlimited was one of the more memorable games early on in the 360’s lifespan. While most of the known world was still learning the ropes of Xbox Live and being constantly connected to their friends, TDU introduced free-roaming, massively multiplayer racing across hundreds of miles of beautiful roads. TDU2 adds Ibiza to the exotic destinations list while revamping the original island of Oahu as well. A technically superior game in every possible way, it will be interesting to finally see what Eden learned from their experience with the first game. Concerns: TDU may have paved the way for multiplayer racing games this generation, but a lot has happened since 2006. Will the sequel bring anything new to the table that its competitors haven’t already done?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Eidos Montreal Platforms: 360, PS3, PC Release Date: March 8

I never really cared about this series, but that all changed when Eidos gave me an in-depth demo of the combat, open-ended mission solutions, and Mass Effect-like dialogue. Not only does it have the most impressive visual design this side of a Hollywood film, it looks like it plays just as well. I can’t decide if I want to be a cyborg from this game, or just dress like one...

Concerns: From what I’ve seen, it will be very hard for this game to fail to live up to expectations, but an hour demo of a 20+ hour action-RPG leaves a lot of unknowns.

Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Platforms: 360/PS3 Release Date: Q2 2011

Doctor Doom and Albert Wesker join forces to assemble the greatest army of villains spanning across two universes. ‘Nuff said, right? This has been the most requested Capcom sequel ever, and it’s finally becoming a reality. If the idea of Morrigan, Trish, and Amaterasu teaming up against Spider-Man, Dante, and Chris Redfield doesn’t make your Hori arcade sticks erect, I don’t know what will.

Concerns: Assuming the fighting engine makes maximum use of the included characters abilities, the Tatsunoko team seems to be making some curious (ie. disappointing) roster choices; with every MODOK, the chances of a Carnage or Cable gets increasingly small. Also, Deadpool plays like crap.

WWE All-Stars Publisher: THQ Developer: THQ San Diego Platforms: 360/PS3/PS2/PSP/Wii Release Date: March 29

Let me just come out and say it plainly: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw is garbage. How Yukes is still in charge of this license after 10 half-assed years blows my mind, but the idea of a potentially awesome WWE game is still exciting, even to a non-fan such as myself. THQ San Diego feels the same way apparently, as they’re looking to repaint the wheel with fast-paced, over-the-top arcade gameplay and unique graphics worthy of a game released on the current generation of hardware. This could be the one fans have been waiting for, and will hopefully set a standard that Yukes is forced to hold them themselves to going forward.

Concerns: Will All Stars feature the robust feature set that Smackdown vs Raw has built up over the past decade? Probably not, but it will still manage to be 1,000 times better regardless.

True Crime: Hong Kong Publisher: Activision Developer: United Front Games Platforms: 360/PS3/PC Release Date: Q2

The original True Crime was fun in a terrible kind of way (cruising the freeway and shooting random civilians’ gas tanks in bullet-time literally never got old), but the second one was just plain terrible. Why Activision felt the need to reboot the franchise is beyond me, but United Front seems to be taking the task quite seriously. TC:HK offers the same open-world, undercover action as the others, but the Hong Kong cinema-inspired combat and much-improved writing will allow True Crime to finally become what it should have been in the first place. It’s certainly no masterpiece, but it will at least be better than Dead to Rights: Retribution and Stranglehold.

Concerns: Even still, is a good True Crime game worth making? Time will tell, but if takes longer than 10 hours to beat I’d rather watch Hard Boiled for the millionth time.

XCOM Publisher: 2K Games Developer: 2K Marin Platforms: 360/PC Release Date: Q3

Again, another franchise I was too busy playing Quake, Unreal, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein to care about, 2K’s re-imagining of former turn-based strategy series X-Com is now speaking my language. In its shiny new FPS form, XCOM is posed to offer up one of the more stylish and story-driven, open-ended first-person shooters. The art style alone brings back fond memories of No One Lives Forever 2, though XCOM takes itself much more seriously. The repercussions of your decisions both in and out of missions will largely impact your experience, while the scripted encounters and 50’s-era alien-centric story are a nice change of pace for this Nazi-loving genre.

Concerns: The single-player looks amazing, but multiplayer has yet to be revealed. If and when it is, will it be tacked on or fully fleshed out?

The Last Guardian Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Developer: Team Ico Platforms: PS3 Release Date: Q4

What’s the best thing about The Last Guardian? The fact that it prompted Sony to release HD remasterings of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, of course. Will Team Ico’s mysterious third game live up to the absurdly high expectations set by fans and press? Probably not, but there’s no doubt it will be an experience unlike most others...except maybe Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom.

Concerns: We all know the ugly bird lizard thing’s going to die at the end, right?

Street Fighter x Tekken Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Platforms: 360/PS3 Release Date: TBA

Tatsunoko, Marvel, and now Tekken: Capcom listens to the fans and makes games that most could only ever imagine. The best way to keep the Street Fighter franchise fresh and relevant is indeed to continuously pit it against other franchises. Tekken (personally my favorite fighting series) is the next challenger, and it will finally answer the age-old question of who really is the strongest martial arts master. My money’s on Panda, obviously.

Concerns: Street Fighter IV’s notoriously unbalanced design and fireball-happy fans could make this a bittersweet dream-come-true.

Crysis 2 Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: Crytek Frankfurt/UK Platforms: 360/PS3/PC Release Date: March 22

I gave up PC gaming about seven months after Final Fantasy XI came out as I had grown weary of having to constantly upgrade my expensive hardware just to play poorly-coded games when I could buy a console for a fraction of the price, a single investment that lasts 5-10 years. The original Crysis was a perfect example of what I left behind, as even hardcore PC gamers with top-shelf rigs struggled to play that beast on maximum settings.

Crysis 2 brings the impressive CryEngine 3 to home consoles, and it looks absolutely stunning. It’s like watching a tech demo for Doom 3...but from 1995. Now everyone who missed out on the original can see what the series has to offer, while the improved Nanosuit 2 and wastelands of a futuristic New York promise to be an interesting twist on Crytek’s previously tropic-heavy games.

Concerns: Yet, by venturing away from the foliage and oceanic vistas, does Crysis 2 run the risk of BTDTS (been there, done that syndrome)?

Guild Wars 2 Publisher: NCSoft Developer: ArenaNet Platforms: PC Release Date: TBA

When former Blizzard employees who were instrumental in the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo series’ broke away from the pack to do their own thing, the end result was Guild Wars, an MMO that defied conventions by removing monthly charges, relying heavily on instanced game worlds, and allowing expansions to be played as standalone purchases. That was 2005, and the MMORPG market has changed a bit since then (while still, sadly, staying an awful lot the same).

Guild Wars 2 is finally set to release in 2011, and although competition is fierce, the sequel looks to up the ante with fast-paced combat and stunning visuals that won’t require an overly expensive rig to run. With ArenaNet pushing release back a couple of years, I have high hopes that the extra time paid off in creating a worthwhile game, and one that seems to have collected the best bits of all the MMOs I skipped, such as Warhammer and Eye of the North.

Concerns: With such an overcrowded genre, is Guild Wars 2 really enough to stand out? ArenaNet has proven to be innovators, but the feat they’re setting out to accomplish is one that every major publisher and developer wishes to attempt, but very few have actually done so successfully.

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William Haley
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