Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2

Platform: PC Exclusive
Publisher: THQ
Expected release: February 2009

As if the RTS line up for 2009 wasn't looking great enough already, with Empire: Total War and a new Company of Heroes expansion also making debuts, Relic will be releasing a sequel to the undeniably solid Dawn of War. We actually know remarkably little about the game's plot considering how close it is to launch, it has to be said, but what we do know is all good.

First up, the game will be using a new and updated version of the Essence engine, which is co-incidentally the same one that Relic will use for Company of Heroes: Tales of Valour later in the year. Practically a complete rebuild of the original engine, Essence 2.0 should lavish gamers with more detail than they can handle – so Space Marine's can run to their deaths more gloriously than ever before!

Games to Watch in 2009 Games to Watch in 2009 - Two for the Road

Space Marine's aren't the whole story though and while the full faction list hasn't yet been finalised, we do know that Relic and THQ will be including an expanded army list for the new Dawn of War. Eldar, Blood Ravens, Tyranids, Orks – they'll all be making a playable appearance.

Most interesting of all the new features in Dawn of War 2 though is that it'll be building a certain amount of redundancy into the game if early reports are to be believed, with multiple consequences coming from certain actions and changing how the game unfolds. Suddenly those secondary objectives seem a lot less secondary if it'll influence how much resources you'll start the next mission with!

Keeping with this years trends, Dawn of War 2 will be expanding the multiplayer complement to include a co-op campaign too, one which will tie in to Microsoft's more and more prominent Games for Windows Live system. Hopefully that means it'll be easier to find online partners and not just more difficult to sign in and start the game in the first place.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Publisher: Eidos
Expected release: May 2009

We never thought we'd say it, but we're somewhat relieved to finally talk about a game which won't feature cooperative gameplay in any way, shape or form. That we know of yet, anyway.

Arkham Asylum is, as you'd expect for the brooding tight-wearer, a mainly slow and solitary affair by all accounts, but it's this fresh take on Batman's subtle but brutal tactics which actually has our interest piqued so much. Previously any licensed Batman game would almost definitely take a all-out action approach that saw the caped crusader laying henchmen low with single punches, but Arkham Asylum has chosen to be a bit more unique thankfully.

Games to Watch in 2009 Games to Watch in 2009 - Two for the Road

More Escape from Butcher Bay than Halo 3, Batmans latest adventure sees him infiltrating the very place where he's been storing his foes all these years in an effort to uncover the Joker's latest plans. Clearly outnumbered by the inmates who've taken over the Gothic fortress, Batman will have to rely on stealth and artifice more than strength and endurance.

Quick combos and surprise attacks aren't all you'll need to make it through Arkhams twisted corridors and complex plot though – a keen mind is also required. Not only is Arkham Asylum a totally open location that'll require formidable orienteering skills to navigate, but Batman will be doing his fair share of investigative work in there too. Using all sorts of gadgets and gizmos, Bruce Wayne will have to piece together his nemesis' plot pretty quickly if he hold any hope of saving Gotham.

Like many classic franchises from our childhoods Batman has been massively reinvented lately in both the cinema and the comics that he originally stemmed from, so it seems only right that he should get a new form in computer games too. What's more, since this approach not only fits well with the Batman universe but also fits into the woefully malnourished Stealth Gaming niche, we're ever so slightly hopeful for what Eidos can do with the character.
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