The Year Ahead: PC Gaming in 2009, Part One

It's that time of the year again: the time to forget the last one, and look ahead to the next.

2008 was a pretty solid year of gaming all around, but there are more than a few reasons to get excited about 2009.

We'll be providing a comprehensive look at the new calendar's release slate over the next few weeks, starting today with the PC.

Empire: Total War
Creative Assembly
Early March

Creative Assembly is bringing out the big guns with the next in its series of strategy-RTS games. Set in the 19th century, naval warfare and musketeers will be the weapons of choice. An expansive "Road to Independence" campaign will take players through the American revolution, and a full campaign multiplayer mode represents a series first. BOOM video 754

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
Monolith Productons
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
February 10

The sequel to Monolith's The Ring-meets-Office Space shooter is shaping up to offer a few wide-open environments to go along with the cubicals. Also, there will be mechs. Mechs with big guns. That you can drive.

The Sims 3
EA Maxis
February 20, 2009

Here we go again. In what is sure to spawn countless expansions, EA Maxis' debut of the next full Sims sequel will come fairly early in 2009. This one promises an expanded, less-segregated neighborhood--on a technical level, that is.

Splinter Cell: Conviction
Ubisoft Montreal
PC, Xbox 360
Q2 2009

Ubisoft's oft-delayed fifth Splinter Cell title should finally make its way to stores this year. Taking place two years after the events in Double Agent, Conviction will see former special-ops soldier Sam Fisher take a turn as a bearded fugitive, blending into crowds sans thermal optics.

Fallout 3 DLC
Bethesda Software
PC, Xbox 360
Early 2009

While not quite qualifying as a full game, the DLC for Fallout 3 is looking like something to get excited about. Spread across three installments, the content will infuse the already-expansive game with new characters, quests, and monsters. It will also expand the level cap, and leave the end of the game open for endless exploration.

Burnout Paradise
Criterion Games
PC: Februrary 2009

Criterion's open-world expansion of the Burnout formula will make its way to the PC in 2009. The port will add more multiplayer content and online features, in addition to unspecified "community-driven" content. A full PC demo is also on the way, offering a glimpse of the entire game for a limited trial period.

Battlefield Heroes
TBA 2009

EA's stab at a free-to-play, microtransaction and ad-supported Battlefield game should finally roll around next year. A lighthearted take on Battlefield 1942, Heroes will speed up the gameplay with instant vehicle spawns and game-supported wing-riding.

BOOM video 295

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Mirror's Edge
PC: January 13, 2009

The critical reception of Mirror's Edge was split down the middle, and much to EA's surprise, its sales were a poor reflection on the company. The company hopes to pick up the pace with this PC port of the parkour-inspired game, which will now also make its way to Steam. BOOM video 1270

Saints Row 2
Volition, Inc.
PC: January 5, 2009

Saints Row 2 put a co-op focus on Volition's GTA-esque franchise, carving out a larger niche in the open-world genre. The PC port will, according to Volition, be identical to the well-received console version.

Street Fighter IV
PC: TBA 2009
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3: February 17, 2009

Ryu and company are back for the first time since 1999's Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. The graphics look slick, and the character list is extensive--however, real fighter fans will be more interested in the new "focus attacks" and combos.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Pandemic Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, NDS
January 13, 2009

Think Star Wars: Battlefront, but replace the AT-ATs with Oliphaunts. Four classes--warriors, archers, scouts and mages--will provide the basis for the large-scale, match-based title, with players also take on the role of the heroes from the Lord of the Rings film adaptations.

Godfather 2
EA Redwood Shores
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
February 2009

The most interesting feature of EA's Godfather sequel is "The Don's View," which allows players to view a strategic map of the open-world city. The name of the game is territorial expansion, with players needing to conquer districts and staff them with henchmen for defense in a RISK-style metagame.

Gearbox Software
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
TBA 2009

Described as "Halo meets Diablo," Gearbox's Borderlands is looking like a winning combination in theory. Running dungeons in co-op mode, with the promise of randomized guns and vehicular craziness, could make for a terrible new addiction.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Relic Entertainment
February 23, 2009

Fans of Relic's RTS games have a lot to look forward to this year. Dawn of War II, perhaps the most anticipated RTS that we know is coming out this year, represents a big shift for the franchise. The emphasis is on small-scale combat this time around, with less of a focus on base-building. A few RPG elements, and mechanics borrowed from Company of Heroes, have made this an interesting project to watch. BOOM video 1283

Bionic Commando
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
February 10, 2009

We've got the retro remake, and now Capcom is bringing out a full next-gen re-imagining of the hookshot-focused action franchise--though the PC version might be delayed slightly. Commando's controls are a cross between Spiderman swinging and standard third-person shooting, making for an entertaining mix.

PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
February 16, 2009

The Wheelman is a driving-oriented open-worlder set in Barcelona, Spain. Vin Diesel will star in both the game and the movie, which will see simultaneous releases in February.

Blue Omega Entertainment/Codemasters
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
February 24, 2009

Damnation creators Blue Omega won Epic's "Make Something Unreal" contest, and now their Civil War-themed mod is making its way to stores. The Unreal Tournament 2004 mod-turned-game is billed as a "vertical shooter," which emphasizes over-the-top action via mid-air acrobatics and vehicle stunts.

EA Phenomic
Early 2009

BattleForge is a card-based RTS game that allows players to trade, win or buy cards that represent in-game units. The game will reportedly support 12-player multiplayer, in either co-op or competitive play.

Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
Relic Entertainment
April 2009

Relic will also be producing another expansion to Company of Heroes, that outstanding World War II RTS game. While apparently not introducing any new factions, Tales of Valor will offer three fresh campaigns, new multiplayer modes, and a fancy "direct-fire" feature. BOOM video 1206

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Dragon Age: Origins
PC: Q1 2009
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

BioWare is attempting to rekindle the glory days of Baldur's Gate with this throwback RPG. It's party-based combat and old-fashioned conversations, with a few Mass Effect-style upgrades. The "Origins" comes from the introduction of the game, which will tell the story of each of the game's races. BOOM video 657

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.
Ubisoft Romania
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
March 2009

Tom Clancy is providing some Ace Combat competition this year with H.A.W.X., a flight sim that offers an optional flight assistance mode for Maverick-wannabes. Four-player co-op and eight player deathmatch round out the package.

Creative Assembly
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
March 2009

Adept at massive RTS simulations, Creative Assembly is leaving behind Total War for a more micro approach with Stormrise. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the game will task players with managing only a few specialized units across a diverse battefield. Enemies will attack on the ground, in the air, and across rooftops.

Alan Wake
Remedy Entertainment
PC, Xbox 360

Oh, Remedy. We love your past games--Max Payne, Max Payne 2... Death Rally--but we also look forward to playing some new ones. Alan Wake, the cinematic action/adventure/exploration/horror game that centers around the titular character, was teased way back in 2005. We can only hope that this impressive-looking title avoids a horrifying fate as a second DNF, and makes its way to stores this year. BOOM video 1087

Check back later in the week for part two, and beyond that for the next installments.