The Year Ahead: PC Gaming in 2009, Part Two

By Nick Breckon, Dec 30, 2008 1:05pm PST 2008 is closing with a whimper of gaming news, rather than a bang--which makes it the perfect time to look ahead to next year.

Last week we examined a good number of games hitting the PC platform in 2009. Today brings the second installment.

As with the first list, most of the games are squarely inked on the 2009 calendar. However, we have included a few titles with less firm release windows. I bet you can guess at least one.

No matter the eventual shipping dates, there is a lot of gaming to digest ahead of this year's surprises. Read on for another blast of upcoming titles.

Wolfenstein
Raven Software, id Software, Pi Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
2009

We got our first look at Wolfenstein at last year's QuakeCon, and everything seemed in order. Nazis, guns, supernatural powers--expect all of the standard Wolfenstein trappings, along with a new Veil mechanic, which allows hero B.J. Blazkowicz to use various special powers.

Team Fortress 2 DLC
Valve Software
PC, Xbox 360
2009

We're still waiting on the rest of those class updates, and according to Valve, the Scout is on-deck for the next treatment. No doubt we'll also see some new maps--and, hopefully, the much-needed release of DLC on the Xbox 360 version.

Left 4 Dead DLC
Valve Software
PC, Xbox 360
2009

Along with Team Fortress 2, Valve's zombie shooter provided some of the best PC multiplayer gaming of 2008--which is why we're looking forward to the content updates nearly as much as any other full game. New scenarios will be an obvious boost to the server cycle, and Versus support for Dead Air and Death Toll will make for a welcome addition.

Velvet Assassin
Replay Studios
PC, Xbox 360
Early 2009

Formerly known as Sabotage, Velvet Assassin is a stealth-based World War II title inspired by actual British spy Violette Szabo. This one promises to buck the action-packed WWII trend and provide a stylish, unique atmosphere in which to dispatch Nazis.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment
Ironclad/Stardock
PC
January 2009

The first of three micro-expansions to last year's cult strategy hit Sins of a Solar Empire will help PC gamers ring in the new year. Entrenchment promises to be self-descriptive, adding starbases that will allow players to more easily defend planets.

Just Cause 2
Avalanche Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Early 2009

The over-the-top, open-world action series Just Cause is continued in this sequel. According to reports, the AI has been greatly improved over the original, while the setting has been shifted to a fictional island in Southeast Asia.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Blizzard Entertainment
PC
2009?

2008 brought the big news that StarCraft II wouldn't be StarCraft II at all, but rather a trilogy of games, each centering around one of the series' three races. While release dates are still up in the air, we wouldn't be surprised to finally have our hands on the first Terran-centric installment--or at least the multiplayer beta--by late 2009.

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BioShock 2
2K Marin
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Q3 2009

Little is known of BioShock 2--only that series creator Ken Levine is not very much involved in development, and that it will be coming out in the third quarter of 2009. It's also subtitled "Sea of Dreams." Mysterious.

THEY
Metropolis Software
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
2009

Warsaw-based developer Metropolis Software--recently acquired by The Witcher developers CD Projekt--is set to release its first major project with THEY, a first person shooter set in the apocalyptic year of 2012. Centering around the invasion of Earth by mysterious robots, Metropolis claims the game will provide nearly 20 hours of gameplay.

DC Universe Online
Sony Online Austin
PC, PlayStation 3
Late 2009/Early 2010

Cities such as Metropolis and Gotham City will provide the backdrop for this MMO version of the DC Universe. Joining either the Justice League or the Legion of Doom, players will be able to participate in dynamically-generated quests, with heroes and villains clashing in the midst of larger events.

Spore Galactic Adventures
EA Maxis
PC
Spring 2009

Will Wright's divisive title Spore will see its first full expansion in 2009 with Galactic Adventures. The expansion will allow players to explore new planets with their creatures, as well as design custom Adventure missions for other users to play through.

ArmA 2
Bohemia Interactive
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
2009

The next military simulator from the original Operation Flashpoint developers, ArmA 2 is set to incorporate new RPG elements to the series, with in-game events impacting the overall campaign. 73 weapons and 167 vehicles will arm players as they fight against unpredictable, AI-powered squads.

Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising
Codemasters
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Spring 2009

Codemasters is continuing the Operation Flashpoint series with this sequel. The scenario involves a hostile China attempting to wrest control of Skira Island from Russia, with the US interceding. A physics-accurate ballistics engine will ensure that over 70 weapons all cause destruction realistically. Multiplayer will support up to 32 players on the PC, with up to 100 AI-controlled NPCs.

Champions Online
Cryptic Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Spring 2009

From City of Heroes/Villains developer Cryptic Studios comes this new superhero MMO. Players will not be limited by a specific class or archetype, and will have plenty of freedom to customize characters--from the hero's movement, to his or her backstory. You can also apparently fight raptors--a minimum requirement for any great MMO.

Rage
id Software
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac
2009?

id Software's first original project in years, Rage represents new ground for the company, stylistically and technologically speaking. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, a key component of the game will be centered around the player's vehicle, which players will use to both race and travel. id will also incorporate traditional FPS gameplay in dungeon-like sequences. We're not sure when it's coming out, but it may well squeak into the end of 2009.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rocksteady Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Summer 2009

Could this be a Batman game worth playing? Based on the comics, Rocksteady's Arkham Asylum certainly looks stylish--and with Animated Series writer Paul Dini on board, and voice actors Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy signed up, the presentation is a lock.

Ghostbusters: The Videogame
Terminal Reality
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, Nintendo DS
June 2009

Could this be a Ghostbusters game worth playing? All the Ghostbusters team voice talent is on board, and the script was written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis--so again, it all looks good on paper. Players will take on the role of a new recruit, and will no doubt be taken through a "don't cross the streams" tutorial.

Quake Live
id Software
PC
2009

id Software's web-based port of Quake III Arena has been in beta quite a while. By all accounts, it should finally be released this year, bringing the twitchy FPS back to gamers in free-to-play form.

Braid
Jonathon Blow/Number None
PC: Feb-March 2009

Jonathan Blow's lauded XBLA title hits the PC early in 2009, bringing the time-shifting platformer to a new audience. Endlessly acclaimed for its innovative, elegant design, Braid should make it to the new platform by March at the latest.

Prototype
Radical Entertainment
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
April 2009

This open-world action title is set in a modern urban landscape, featuring a hero that can shapeshift and absorb his enemies' powers. Parkour-style acrobatics from a third-person camera make this project a blend of Crackdown, Assassin's Creed and Mirror's Edge.

APB
Realtime Worlds
PC
2009

Designed by Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown creator Dave Jones, APB presents the typical cops vs. robbers scenario, but in an MMO setting. Players will choose between two sides: the Gangs or the Law Enforcement. From there, it's a skill-based effort to deny the other side by either robbing the banks or attempting to crack down on the gangs.

Storm of War: Battle of Britain
Maddox Games
PC
Q2 2009

Looking for a flight sim fix? Developed by Oleg Maddox--creator of the renowned IL2-Sturmovik sim series--Storm of War might be your best bet this year. Utilizing a new 3D engine, Maddox looks to provide some stunning airplane models in its effort to recreate the historic Battle of Britain.

Overlord II
Triumph Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
2009

The sequel to 2007's unique action title, Overlord II is said to greatly increase the scope of the minion-based gameplay. New AI routines will allow the minions to perform actions such as riding mounts, while the control scheme has supposedly been improved overall.

Aion: Tower of Eternity
NC Soft
PC
Q1 2009

Recently named Best Korean Game of the Year, NCSoft's newest MMO is based in a fantasy world where two playable races inhabit a lower and upper plane--one dark, one light. Clearly inspired by heaven and hell, all characters will have the ability to fly by way of angelic wings, allowing for expedient exploration of the ethereal landscapes.

Alpha Protocol
Obsidian Entertainment
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
March 2009

A new RPG from some of the guys responsible for other great RPGs, there's a lot of expectation going along with the release of Alpha Protocol. The game centers around a CIA field agent, and will include plenty of branching dialogue and third-person espionage.

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Black Mesa
Black Mesa Team
PC
2009

It's been a long time coming, but the meticulous fan-made graphical update of Half-Life is nearing completion. With a shiny new trailer under its arm, the Black Mesa Team looks poised to finally release the product of its considerable labors this year.

Red Faction: Guerrilla
Volition
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Q2 2009

Continuing the Red Faction series' trademark of destructible environments/geometry, Guerrilla will shift the series to a third-person viewpoint. Set 50 years after the events of the first Red Faction, the game will largely take place on Mars. A multiplayer component will offer the typical Team DM and CTF modes.

Aliens: Colonial Marines
Gearbox Software
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
2009

A four-player co-op Aliens game, with a story by Battlestar Galactica writers, represents a very promising concept. This exciting game is still slated for 2009, though if recent rumors prove true, it may be delayed beyond its target of a summer release.

Saboteur
Pandemic Studios
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
2009

Not to be confused with Sabotage--the now-renamed Velvet Assassin--Saboteur is another World War II game with an unconventional angle. Based on French war hero William Grover-Williams, the game will see the player singlehandedly taking on the Nazis in an open-world setting.

Demigod
Gas Powered Games/Stardock
PC
February 2009

Stardock has teamed with Gas Powered Games to release their own flavor of DotA--that competitive strategy mod for WarCraft III. In Demigod, users will command giant monsters in an RTS setting, using special powers and commanding NPC minions to tip the scale of battle in their favor.

The Last Remnant
Square Enix
PC: Spring 2009

Hiroshi Takai's RPG has already been released on the Xbox 360, to largely mixed reviews. The game makes its way to the PC in the spring--hopefully lacking the graphical glitches that plagued the original release.

Mafia II
2K Czech
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Fall 2009

Set in the 1940s and 50s, the sequel to Mafia will take place in Empire City, a fictional mobster playground based on San Francisco and New York. Boasting a screenplay twice the size of the original game's, Mafia II will feature over 2 hours of in-game cutscenes, continuing the first game's storytelling ambition.

Turn the page for more. _PAGE_BREAK_
Trine
Frozenbyte
PC, PlayStation 3
Q2 2009

Frozenbyte's attractive fantasy platformer is a bit of a throwback. Players choose from three archetypal classes--the Wizard, Thief, and Warrior--each specializing in agility, puzzle solving, and strength, respectively. Physics will also factor into the gameplay in ways that become obvious upon viewing the trailer below.

Mytheon
Petroglyph
PC
Fall 2009

This free-to-play PC strategy game from Petroglyph--developers of Star Wars: Empire at War--will be entirely supported by micro-transactions. The game is said to include the "best elements of action, strategy and RPG game-play with a heavy emphasis on collectability and combat."

Jumpgate Evolution
NetDevil
PC
Spring 2009

The sequel to NetDevil's PC space-action MMO Jumpgate Evolution will make its way to stores this spring. The game is set to bring new graphics, AI tweaks, a redesigned user interface and other improvements to the base gameplay of the original 2001 title.

Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
Starbreeze
PC, Xbox 360
Spring 2009

Starbreeze's update/enhancement of the original Riddick will also include a significant amount of new content--some ten hours of new missions, according to the developer. A new multiplayer mode will also come packed in with the impressive package.

The Ship 2 (Hollywood Murder Party?)
Outerlight
PC

Outerlight's follow-up to The Ship: Murder Party is on its way, and will likely make an appearance in 2009. While we don't have any hard details on the project, this one is rumored to be titled Hollywood Murder Party--which sounds right up Outerlight's alley.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Infinity Ward
Unannounced Platforms
Fall 2009

We don't have definite details on this one, but Infinity Ward is scheduled to release its Call of Duty 4 follow-up this year, and it's a good bet it'll show up on the PC when it does.

Duke Nukem Forever
3D Realms
PC, ?

What else is left to say of 3D Realms' consistently unreleased title? We have to assume we'll see a finished product by the end of this year. Then again, that's what we said last year. Oh brother.

We know we missed something. Let us know, and discuss your most anticipated games, in the comments.

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