The one criticism that gamers nearly universally level at their own hobby is that for the most part it’s a derivative mess of copy-cats, clones and cash-ins. Electronic Arts is usually held up as the worst offender, but the reality is that pretty much every developer and publisher is just looking for a formula that works so that they can repeat it forever.
Some of those developers get it wrong and churn out countless rehashes and reruns without even tweaking or improving the gameplay or performance. Other companies get it right and constantly refine mechanics without deviating from the basic formula - yes, Nintendo, I’m looking at you.
Regardless, below we’ve got the skinny on our most anticipated sequels of next year. Some of them may turn out to be utter disasters, while others may bring a breath of fresh air to a tired franchise – either way; they've got us all excited!
Far Cry 2Platform:
March 25th 2008
The reintroduction of the Far Cry
franchise by Ubisoft is a radical departure for the series which is now most commonly associated with identically awful console expansions. The original developer, Crytek, is off the scene completely and the game is instead being developed by Ubisoft Montreal.
Gameplay-wise Far Cry 2
looks to be much closer to games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl
than it does to the original Far Cry
. Billed as a completely open-ended and non-linear experience, Far Cry 2
is eschewing the jungle of the previous games and setting itself in an African savannah instead.
The game area will be larger than that of Oblivion
, measuring in at around 50 square km, and will use an impressive dynamic weather system which reacts to the player’s ability – do well and the skies will be clear, but find yourself running away with only one health left and expect the heavens to open!
Far Cry 2
will also see new characters being introduced to the series and, though there’s no word on story or plot just yet (which may be for the best if the Trigens return), it’s confirmed that the player will be able to choose between one of twelve mercenaries at the start of the game and that the feral abilities featured in the console spin-offs will not be in the sequel.
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Keeping things nicely sequential, we jump from the second instalment in a series onto a game which is the third in a series – and what a series! Fallout
is one of the holy grails of PC RPGs and although the news that Bethesda has bought the rights to third game from the now semi-defunct Interplay has been met with mixed reactions from gamers, the game still looks tantalisingly good if you ask us.
Set in a post-apocalyptic Washington DC, Fallout 3
will depart from the convention of the past Fallout
games and use a FPS perspective similar to Bethesda’s other game series, The Elder Scrolls
. The plot is being kept tightly under wraps, but we do know that it will see players starting off in underground Vault 101 before venturing out into the wasteland above in search of their father.
What makes Fallout 3
look so tempting already is the way it seems to fuse elements from both the Fallout
and Elder Scrolls
series’. On the one hand, it will be an FPS/RPG using the GameBryo engine in which we can expect to see plenty of similarly-voiced characters and fetch-quests, while on the other hand it also seems to be impressively gory and has a facility to allow turn-based combat using power-ups.
With a fusion of some of the best talent and licenses in the RPG genre, Fallout 3
could be the only game you’ll need for the rest of your life.
Grand Theft Auto IVPlatform:
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Actually the eleventh game in the series if you count all the various spin-offs and handheld versions (not to mention the awesome GTA London), GTA IV
nevertheless masquerades as the fourth title in the franchise. We think it’s doing it just to confuse us.
Running on the RAGE engine, the game looks to be pretty much what you’d expect once you factor in the way the timeline has evolved over the last three major games. Set in a more contemporary period, GTA IV
disposes of the garish, glam feel of San Andreas
and Vice City
to adopt a more realistic, gritty and low-key presentation – something evidenced in the character costumes and layout.
It won’t be any less violent or fun though, that’s for sure! Players will be cast as Niko, an Eastern European who comes to America after being tricked by a friend who subsequently turns Niko to a life of crime in order to survive.
Gameplay has changed too along with the setting and story. Rockstar is billing the game as being completely without loading screens, which is nice, but there’ll also be a new cover system similar to that seen in Gears of War
and players will use mobile phones and cyber cafes to accept missions from mob bosses.
On the down side though, Niko isn't a qualified pilot and players won't be able to fly any aeroplanes in the new game, limiting themselves to just helicopters. Balancing that out though; Helicopters!