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The Dawn of a New Day

The world didn't end, so I guess that means we've got another year of games to start thinking about. Which upcoming releases are giving you the shakes?

Time Warner Cable and Viacom reached a last-minute agreement to keep their channels off the air. The Zune fix ended up being nothing more than "just let its batteries wear down and then plug it in sometime tomorrow." And people shouldn't be texting in their cars in the first place. So all of yesterday's world-dooming predictions didn't quite have the effect that some had hoped for. We're still here.

So, no robot/zombie apocalypse this time around. On the bright side, that means we've got another year of games ahead of us. I just rolled out of bed with a headache that would kill a lesser man, but I'm going to use that pain and focus it onto the games of 2009 that I'm most interested in seeing. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, so when I'm not excited about some game that you're totally bonering-out over, do the world a favor and let them know about said game by answering our similarly-themed question of the moment.

So here's what's up for '09.

Bionic Commando - While I'm of the mind that any game that can be represented by a wild man in a bathrobe is probably destined for success, that's not why it's at the top of my mind. Bionic Commando has been high on my list since I first got to play it and see for myself how much fun it is to just swing around. Getting the feel of swinging down just right can't have been easy, but it seems like it's easy enough for players to get the hang of quickly, but rewarding enough to make you feel wicked bad when you swing from place to place and murder all of your foes without touching the ground.

Guns, guns, guns!
Guns, guns, guns!
Killzone 2 - Remember the original trailer? I almost hate to bring it up now that there's an actual playable game to look at, but I still feel a little dumb for believing the Sony public relations person who told me that the original Killzone 2 footage was real-time footage of the game in motion. It's a good thing that the playable game has gone on to look as great as it does. I've really enjoyed the handful of times I've actually gotten to play it, and I'm hoping that those moments I've seen for myself string together into a meaningful final product.

Skate 2 - This game's almost out, so at least there won't be too much of a wait. The create-a-spot stuff will let you set up your own score challenges and upload them online where everyone can try to beat your score. The new trick modifiers for doing one-foots or pulling a boneless or whatever all seem like really smart additions. Even getting off the board and dragging around pieces of the environment doesn't appear to be as obnoxious as it initially sounded. But all of that hinges on how well the game's challenges are designed. If it starts asking me to do things that the right analog stick wasn't meant to do with precision, I'll probably be pretty bummed out. That's how the first game went down.

Whatever The Next Tony Hawk Game Will Be - So there's this cycle that I go through when there's an upcoming Tony Hawk game. At first, I'm super-skeptical. That was originally because the previous games were so good that they seemed tough to beat. These days, it's more because the series hasn't been on a particularly great trajectory for the last few years. Then I start seeing bits of it and get super-excited about the final product. Then the final product ends up being disappointing for one reason or another. Tony's been doing interviews lately and claiming that the next game in the series is going to be way more realistic or something. Activision reps have slyly suggested that the game will require some sort of skateboard controller or some other device that you "don't hold in your hand." None of that sounds particularly great--skate sort of has the realism thing down and I'm not a fan of custom controllers--but it's certainly got me interested to see what the game's new developers are actually up to.

That Beatles Game - Yeah, it's weird to be excited about a game that I actually have very little interest in playing. I'm just not that into The Beatles. But it'll be interesting to see what Harmonix's take on the single band game works out and how it compares to stuff like Guitar Hero: Metallica.

It'll all come down to the quality of the online.
It'll all come down to the quality of the online.
Street Fighter IV - I don't even know if I need to waste anyone's time writing about why I'm excited about Street Fighter IV. OK, here. I'm excited about Street Fighter IV because it's a great fighting game that might actually kick-start this whole genre and get a larger group of people interested in fighting games all over again.

Punch-Out!! - I think the initial screens and footage of Nintendo's new Punch-Out!! game look really great. But I can't tell what I want out of new versions of old Nintendo franchises anymore. They're all so far removed from the original games just by appearing on a console with such dramatically different control options. I don't want a slapdash graphical update that doesn't alter the gameplay at all, but if they change too much, it won't have the feel of the original games. They're really walking a tightrope with this one, but I'm hopeful.

Alpha Protocol - Back at E3, this game looked a bit like Mass Effect with spies instead of aliens. It's been a pretty long time since there's been a good spy adventure. And no, the shooting and punching antics of Bond and Bourne don't really count.

Bayonetta - Look, I know I'm just setting myself up for disappointment here. I haven't liked any of the Devil May Cry games, and there's a very real possibility that Bayonetta will be similar to those games. But man, it looks cool.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Yes, I am interested in seeing what Infinity Ward is doing next. Duh.

If I didn't feel like Capcom games were already well-represented on the above list, I'd probably put Dark Void up there, too. But let's cap it at ten. Naturally, there's also a pile of downloadable add-ons for 2008 releases coming this year. It'll be interesting to see how Burnout Paradise's DLC does once they start charging for it. I'm also interested in seeing some new Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe characters, and of course, there's the stuff for Fallout 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV.

So what the heck are you looking forward to? Tell us. Tell us now!
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+