In the second of a mini regular feature we take a look at our most anticipated games of 2005. With 2005 possibly being the year before next-gen consoles appear, fear of platform shifting is inevitable, but there is still no shortage of great games scheduled for release this year. Today we will take a look at the games you can look forward too for the Xbox.
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
The sequel to one of the biggest selling Xbox games of all time has a lot to live up to. Developed by Obisdian rather than Bioware themselves, fans were a little worried about how the game would turn out. Reports on the US version of the game suggest that they have nothing to worry about when the game hits European stores in February.
Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors
Raikoh returns to the Xbox in this sequel to an underappreciated gem. Offering more of the exciting gameplay and stunning visuals that made the first game such a cult hit. Fans who have seen the Japanese and US releases come and go have good reason to be disappointed. The wait will be over in February.
We don't have to wait long into the New Year for a dose of great gaming action. Pandemic and LucasArts bring us Mercenaries in February and it looks like they have an explosive hit on their hands. Set in a future war torn North Korea, you are a mercenary, taking missions for rival factions. Mixing GTA style vehicle jacking with some intense on-foot action and enough fire-power to bring down the toughest buildings, Mercenaries won't disappoint action junkies.
Dead or Alive has been criticised for lacking the depth of the more accomplished fighters, but now you can play the game online and see how skilled people can become at the game. Including a full version of the original Dead or Alive and a fully remade Dead or Alive 2, this is a package that is sure to please Xbox owning beat 'em up fans.
Trailed at E3 for the first time, Republic commando looked to deliver a new gameplay experience in the Star Wars universe. The actual game looks less exciting than the stunning CGI trailer that we were treated too, but this FPS with squad based tactical play is still one of our most anticipated Xbox games of the year.
The latest Oddworld title has had a fairly troubled development. Starting out as a Microsoft published Xbox exclusive the game was set to build on the moderate success of Abe's Odyssey, which launched with the console. Not happy with how the game was shaping up, MS dropped the game and EA stepped in. A PlayStation 2 version was announced, and then cancelled, before leaving us with a potentially brilliant title, especially if American journalists are to be believed.
A few days after its release on the PC it was hard not to find a forum without a thread discussing the disappointment that the game turned out to be. Not everyone felt this way, with the games heart pounding, nerve wrecking gameplay making the game a hit amongst a lot of players. The Xbox version seems to capture the striking visuals of the PC original and adds an exclusive co-op mode playable over Xbox Live.
Pandemic appear again, this time with their human destroying action game. Seemingly combining the explosive action of Mercenaries with a quirky Alien invasion gameplay concept, Destroy all humans looks to be one of the most entertaining games of the year. Making use of the Havok physics engine, humans are sure to be destroyed in a realistic looking way.
After Rare's first Xbox game failed to capture their bygone days of brilliance, Conker has a lot riding on it. Microsfot's purchase has been ridiculed since the announcement was made, but Conker could be the game to prove doubters wrong. A visually stunning remake of a Nintendo 64 classic, combined with a brand new online battle mode makes this a game that could put Rare back on the map.
After enjoying much success on the PC, Far Cry comes to the Xbox in this console specific game. Screenshots show a visually stunning game that appears to capture the dense jungle environments that made the PC original so great to play. The Xbox isn't short of good First Person Shooters, but this could rank up there with the best of them.
Hot on the heels of KOTOR, and free from developing the sequel (see above), the RPG experts at Bioware have created, what looks to be, another classic Xbox title. Moving away from the menu command combat, Jade Empire introduces real time combat for a large number of martial art styles. If this multitude of fighting styles isn't enough, why not turn into a great big god, perhaps a giant Toad or Bull. Mix in some interesting looking mini-games and intriguing story and you have a potential game of the year candidate.
Rainbow Six 3 is one of the most successful Xbox Live titles. It was the first Live title to require organised team play and it has gained quite a following. Focusing around gaining revenge for the death of a Team Rainbow member, this could be the first game in the series to have strong single player campaign. If the offline can match the online play, this will surely be one of the big hits this year.
Being developed by Ubisoft Montreal - the team behind the original - gives us hope for great things from this true sequel to the original game. While Pandora tomorrow was great, it was more of a mission pack than a full sequel, but it did include some excellent online gameplay. With state of the art visuals and new cooperative online play, this certainly looks like a sure-fire hit.
Unreal Championship was quite a success when the Xbox Live service was rolled out. A few years later, Xbox Live titles have moved on, and Xbox owners expect a bit more than PC ports. UC2 has been made from the ground up on the Xbox and for the first time in an unreal game mixes traditional series combat with close quarters melee fighting. Halo 2 raised the bar for Xbox Live shooters, but this could become the new benchmark.
Microsoft's racing simulator has been on the end of a lot of criticism, mainly down to a fairly old build of the game being released as a public demo. The game is now a lot further on in development and is looking extremely good. If you want customisation this is the game for you, with almost everything on the cars being tweakable, upgradeable or both. While this level of depth won't be for everyone, car enthusiasts are sure to be impressed, and then go online with their creations.
This game still appears to be under the radar of most gamers, but based on a stunning presentation of the game at EGN in London last September, this is a FPS that should be at the top of a lot of peoples wish lists. Featuring great unreal powered visuals, upgradeable weapons, online play and a map maker, this could be one of the games of the year.
This is on here more on name than anything else. Admittedly, Contracts was rather a letdown, but we hope the deadly assassin will be back on top form for his next set of missions. The Hitman series has always been a pretty mixed bag, never really living up to its potential, but we have a feeling that four games in, the developers will have finally figured out how to make a game that will please more than just the hardcore fans.
Lego Star Wars
Surely designed as a kids game due to its Lego design and simplistic gameplay, we perhaps shouldn't be so excited about this, but it is just so much fun. From the brief time we had with an early build of the game anyone who longs for a bit of their childhood back will have a hard time not liking this game. Whether you are using force powers on unsuspecting Lego Storm Troopers or just duelling with your lightsaber, you can't help but have a good time. And the Lego men don't loose limbs, they lose Lego Blocks. Great.
Making a First Person Shooter based around a not so classic arcade light-gun game seems like an odd move, but that hasn't stopped this from being one of our most anticipated games this year. Luckily this appears to have nothing to do with the aforementioned blaster, looking more like a first person Altered Beast with guns. Use special powers to attack your enemies and go online and battle with real life opponents. It's another FPS, but looks to be different enough to stand out from the crowd.
Xbox owners will have waited more than six months before this hits their console, but being the PlayStation 2's best game of 2004 means it is worth the wait. We don't yet know what improvements will be made in the port to the Xbox, but given the lick of paint that GTA3 and Vice City received, we can assume some smarter graphics and custom soundtrack support as a bare minimum.
Battlefield: Modern Combat
EA delayed this game to include a single player campaign, but experiencing the Battlefield gameplay online on a console is what interests us about this title. While Xbox owners have had a number of great Live shooters, with more scheduled for 2005, this could offer something a little different to what else is on offer this year.
With little more to go on than a CGI trailer, we have no idea how this game will turn out, but with EA's production values and one of the greatest movies ever made to work with, we have high hopes. Of course, most people will have nothing but fear of mediocrity for this game, seeing as it comes from EA, but given their recent turn of form, we aren't so pessimistic.