2009 in Video Games: A Look Ahead

by Phil Kehres

Barely two weeks into the New Year, there are undoubtedly countless gym memberships going unused and new treadmills beginning to collect dust. Fortunately, there’s a fine slate of games and content coming our way in 2009 that should slide nicely into the two hours slots you set aside for running. Here are a few things to keep your eye on:

Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams (rating unknown, Xbox 360, PlayStation3, PC)
Release Date: Third Quarter 2009

Bioshock 2’s existence was announced by a secret trailer unlocked in the PlayStation3 (PS3) version of the original Bioshock. It has since been confirmed for 2009, though no official release date is set.

In the original Bioshock, the player fought off hordes of genetic splicers in the post-Utopian underwater city of Rapture. The unique first-person shooter with role-playing game (RPG) elements sent you to take down Rapture’s ruler, rabid Ayn Rand disciple Andrew Ryan. Bioshock is one of the creepiest, most atmospheric gaming experiences in history. The haunting environment combined with an excellent combat upgrade system and a story full of twists easily made it the best game of 2007 and one of my favorite games of all time. I’m probably a little biased here, but I’m expecting Bioshock 2 to be 2009’s game of the year. Anything less would be a disappointment.

The trailer teases the existence of a second Rapture-style city off the Atlantic coast, but few other details are known. Speaking about Bioshock 2, 2K Games President Cristoph Hartmann recently conjectured that Bioshock could become a Star Wars-style franchise. For the sake of fans, here’s hoping Bioshock 2 is more Empire Strikes Back than Attack of the Clones.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game (rating unknown, Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PC, Nintendo DS and Wii)
Release Date: June 16

There’s a long history of absolutely terrible movie-to-video-game adaptations, so there’s little reason to think Ghostbusters: The Video Game will be any different. Still, the naïve hope that not everything from my childhood will be resurrected and destroyed is enough to keep me waiting anxiously for the Ghostbusters game.

So far, it looks like Ghostbusters is on the right track. Built around a third-person, over-the-shoulder shooting mechanic, Ghostbusters follows a new recruit to the ghost-busting team through events that take place two years after the second movie. In addition to what is shaping up to be some intriguing gameplay, replete with proton packs and traps, the game boasts an impressive list of returning characters from the films. Perhaps most importantly, all of the actors who portrayed the Ghostbusters on screen will lend their voice talents to their in-game avatars. This gives a great deal of credibility to the game, so hopefully there’s enough substance to go along with the obvious style.

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned (downloadable content, rated M [Mature], Xbox 360)
Release Date: February 17

If you agree with my assessment of Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV), this won’t even be on your radar. However, The Lost and Damned is significant in that it representative of one of the major selling points for those who bought the game on Xbox 360; it is the first of the Xbox 360 exclusive episodic content downloads Rockstar Games has promised for GTA IV. Boasting a new main character and storyline centered around a biker gang, The Lost and Damned also features new multiplayer modes, weapons and vehicles. My guess is that when it comes down to it, you’re still running around capping gangstas and delivering drugs. But if that’s your thing, The Lost and Damned is your fix for 2009.

Fallout 3 (Downloadable Content Rated M, Xbox 360, PC)
Release Date: January, February, and March 2009

It wouldn’t be a “Gamer’s PHILosophy” column without a mention of Fallout 3, now would it? Expanding upon an already preposterously deep game, Bethesda Softworks is planning to release its first batch of downloadable content for Fallout 3. Operation Anchorage (January) focuses on the liberation of Alaska from Communist China. The Pitt (February) takes you to the industrial wastes of Pittsburgh. (Wait, is that redundant? Kidding. Yes, kidding. Really.) The most intriguing of the bunch is Broken Steel, which will continue from the end of the main Fallout 3 story and allow you rank your character up to level 30 (the main storyline caps the leveling at 20). One word: drool.

My New Year’s resolution was to stop staying up till 4 a.m. gaming on work nights. Objective failed. It probably won’t top 2008, but there’s enough here to keep me at two-Red-Bull-a-day production levels for the foreseeable future.

Also on my radar: Resident Evil 5, Punch Out, and Street Fighter 4.

(Phil Kehres also is the co-author of Excuse Me, Is This Your Blog?)

(Editor's Note: To read a short series on the key games of 2008, please go here.)

(The screenshot from
Fallout 3 is from irrezolut via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license. To see a trailer for Fallout 3, please check below.)

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