We talk about sequelitis every year, but 2010 could really be the year of the "twos." From the confirmed releases of Mass Effect 2, BioShock 2, Mafia 2, Bad Company 2, Assassins Creed 2 and Divinity 2 to the more ambiguous status of games like Starcraft 2, Crysis 2, and Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (yes, we know; but it still has a "2" in the title), 2010 is chock full of second acts. Fortunately, all of the games on this list were good enough the first time around that we're all more than willing to spend more time with them.
The big question, of course, is whether or not the two most anticipated games in the PC catalog, Starcraft 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, are actually going to make it out by the end of the year. We've long since stopped guessing about this but we'd be very surprised if we weren't playing at least one of them by the end of the year. Sure, Mass Effect 2 and Star Trek Online will give us our science fiction fix, but that's in the early part of the year, so it would be nice to have a little Zerg or Jedi action in time for the holidays.
And speaking of the first part of the year, it looks like 2010 will reap the harvest of 2009's holiday delays. When the release season ended in November, it gave us a bit of a breather at the end of the year. But it looks like the first few months of next year are going to be pretty crowded. Not only do we have to find time to play Mass Effect 2 and Star Trek Online, but there's also BioShock 2 and Splinter Cell Conviction and the new Sins of a Solar Empire expansion.
Just what's up with all these science fiction games anyway?
Another big unknown is the status of Valve's Half-Life 2: Episode 3. The last official update we heard was back in August when Gabe Newell said Valve was working on it but wasn't ready to talk about it just yet. The shift to an episodic format was intended to reduce the lengthy development time for a full sequel, but there's still no word on whether we'll be seeing this one before 2010 draws to a close.
Even without Valve or Blizzard or BioWare's blockbusters, 2010 is filled with a vast array of games that are sure to fill our days with plenty of gaming goodness. Command & Conquer 4 brings the long Tiberium saga to a (hopefully) satisfying close. Napoleon Total War and Dawn of War 2: Chaos Rising give us a great excuse to extend our fascination with two of 2009's most popular strategy games and R.U.S.E. puts a fresh spin on a familiar format that may just be the next big evolution in taking traditional RTS games to the consoles.
Shooter fans will welcome the return of two old friends in SEGA's Alien vs. Predator and UbiSoft's Ghost Recon Predator. BioShock 2 tells another compelling chapter in the story of Rapture while also introducing a multiplayer component that seems a bit strange given the character of the original game. It's likely that FPS multiplayer will be dominated by DICE's Bad Company sequel, but there's still plenty of room for other games to make their mark.
Moving past the pure shooting games to the more action focused games (many of which also involve lots and lots of shooting), we've got the triple threat of a new Splinter Cell, an Assassin's Creed sequel and the long awaited return of Mafia. Some of the presentation elements and settings have been changed in all three of these games but they should be at the top of any action fan's watch list.
In terms of roleplaying, the big title to watch is BioWare's Mass Effect 2. Billed as the dark second chapter in their three-act story, it promises to up the ante in every area. We're less certain about SEGA's Alpha Protocol. After generating a lot of positive momentum earlier this year, we haven't really heard any news that doesn't have to do with it being delayed. In the meantime, Divinity 2: Ego Draconis, which didn't have as high a profile, is building some good buzz.
On the MMO front, we may find ourselves with an embarrassment of riches to compensate for the thin year we just had. In addition to Star Trek Online, we may have those other monumental franchises, DC Universe Online and Final Fantasy XIV, to contend with. It seems unlikely that we'd see any action on the Fallout MMO front, but there will plenty enough to keep us busy. And that's not even counting games built on less visible franchises like Jumpgate or APB.
When you factor in all the games that we know are coming out, toss in a few that we hope are coming out, and hold a few spaces for the few that are going to appear out of nowhere, 2010 looks like it might be an even better year than 2009.