And in the blink of an eye 2009 is upon us, and games like Gears of War 2, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Animal Crossing: Let's go to the City seem like a distant memory. Now, as is the way with the world, we turn to the future without having given the past the time it deserves. Fable 2 creator Peter Molyneux says nothing in 2009 excites him. Well that's not how we feel. Today begins our week-long Most Anticipated Games of 2009 feature, where we compile the 40 games that make us wet with excitement just at the thought of playing them. Here, in the first instalment, we run down from 40 to 31. Read on, and let the hype begin.
40. The Sims 3, EA - PC - February 20
The Sims is a franchise that has passed us by somewhat at VideoGamer.com, but that doesn't mean we're not aware of its widespread appeal. The Sims 3 will likely become one of the best selling PC games of all time, so we're automatically interested. There's a tad more pressure on the game to wow though, seeing as Will Wright's previous game, Spore, failed to be the revolutionary leap forward in gaming everyone thought it would be. More than anything else we're anticipating the endless stream of add-on packs. If there aren't at least two expansions on the market by Christmas 09 we'll out our virtual Sims hats.
39. Armed Assault 2, 505 Games - PC - 2009
As we've said time and time again, Bohemia Interactive Studios are the godfathers of the modern war game. After the groundbreaking Operation Flashpoint, the studio produced ArmA - a spiritual successor that failed to set the world on fire. The boys are now keen to make amends, and ArmA II should be their redemption: an insanely detailed soldier sim with 136 vehicles, razor-sharp AI and 81 weapons to blow your brains across 225 square km of play area. It's a massive undertaking, but BIS know the pressure that's on them: nothing less than excellence will suffice. It was looking good when we last took a look, so don't be put off by the admittedly intimidating level of realism.
38. Batman: Arkham Asylum, Eidos - Xbox 360, PS3 - Summer 2009
We're hyped for Batman at the moment. After The Dark Knight we want as much of the caped crusader as we can get, and Edios' Arkham Asylum appears to be the game carrying the torch in 2009. Developer Rocksteady is responsible for the almost great Urban Chaos: Riot Response from 2006, and from what we've seen of the game so far it looks superb. Our main concern is how the developer handles Epic's Unreal Engine 3. Until now the engine hasn't really shined much outside of Epic's own Gears of War and Unreal Tournament franchises.
37. Mad World, SEGA - Wii - Q1 2009
We are desperate for SEGA's blood-soaked action game to be good, but we're just not sure. There's no doubt that on its release it'll rank as one of the best looking games on the Wii, and it's got hardcore appeal seeping out of every deep wound, but there's a slight concern that it'll be all style and no real substance. We want to be proven wrong, and we smile every time we watch the latest trailer, but we just aren't sure. With some solid fighting mechanics this could end up being one of the best Wii games of 2009, so fingers crossed - so hard they could well snap off and spray blood all over our office.
36. Prototype, Activision - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC - Summer 2008
A super hero game in which you're a mutant who can leap through the air like the Incredible Hulk, throw spikes out from your finger tips and hi-jack helicopters while in mid-air? Sounds good to us. Prototype hasn't had the smoothest of development cycles, originally due for release towards the end of 2008, but it survived Vivendi's merger with Activision and that can only be a good thing. We may well see Sony's PS3 exclusive Infamous hit before Prototype makes it out the gate, but we still think Radical Entertainment's action-fest is well worth getting excited about.
35. Alpha Protocol, SEGA - Xbox 360, PS3 and PC - Q1 2009
It's a Jason Bourne/24 inspired role-playing game from Neverwinter Nights 2 developer Obsidian Entertainment. That should be enough to get RPG fans hot under the collar, but there's more to this present-day Mass Effect than meets the eye. When we saw the game at Leipzig Games Convention last year we were taken through Obsidian's take on the in-vogue dialogue wheel conversation system. Alpha Protocol uses "emotive stances" to allow the player to choose how super spy Michael Thornton will react in any given conversation. While we're not sure exactly how it'll provide a better or even different experience to what's gone before, we're promised moral conundrums without definite right or wrong answers, which is what Western role-playing games often lack. Oh, and you'll be able to interrupt NPCs mid-sentence by shoving your gun in his or her face. Our excitement skill just levelled up.
34. All Points Bulletin, Webzen - Xbox 360 and PC - 2009
All Points Bulletin should be an absolutely stupendous game. Why? Look at developer Realtime Worlds' credentials. Founded in early 2002 by David Jones, creator of the Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings series', the studio is responsible for the superb Xbox 360-exclusive open-world action-driving game Crackdown. APB is an MMO, which might put off some, but Jones reckons it could reach a level of success thus far only achieved by Blizzard's phenomenon World of Warcraft. We're not sure about that, but, at its simplest, the GTA MMO concept is one that demands our attention. Realtime also promises "the best and most complete customization system ever seen in gaming", Criminals vs. Enforcement PvP gameplay and "persistent turf war", which sounds proper wicked.
33. Gran Turismo 5, Sony Computer Entertainment - PS3 - 2009 (hopefully!)
Whether or not this comes out this year is still debatable, but our fingers are crossed as tightly as possible. If we do get the game this year we're hoping developer Polyphonic Digital finally makes some serious changes so that the great racing series can go head to head with what Microsoft has done with Forza 2 and PGR4 in the online arena, and some improvements to the feel of racing are high on our wishlist too - we love GT, but the racing does feel quite robotic at times. Of course, we also expect GT5 to set a new benchmark in terms of visual quality - something the series has been doing since its debut on the PlayStation.
32. Dragon Age: Origins, EA - PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 - Early 2009
BioWare's brilliant because it made Mass Effect, one of the best games of 2007. Therefore Dragon Age, BioWare's spiritual successor to the brilliant Baldur's Gate series, is deserving of our focused interest. It's a single-player, party-based fantasy adventure just the way we like them, with loads of stats, levelling up and the killing of many, many beasties. It might not revolutionise the genre, but it's a guaranteed epic that should keep role-playing fanatics happy till BioWare pulls its finger out and announces Mass Effect 2.
31. Chrono Trigger, Square Enix - DS - February 6
Despite the fact that Chrono Trigger is a subtle Nintendo DS remake of a classic SNES game, rather than being a completely new title, it's still one of our most anticipated games of 2009, and that's because it's never been released in Europe before. Widely considered to be the greatest Japanese role-playing game of all time, Chrono Trigger's got an epic story, mind-bending time travel, and, wait for it, NO RANDOM BATTLES. That's right, we said NO RANDOM BATTLES! We doubt we'll see Final Fantasy XIII on these shores in 2009, making Chrono Trigger an even more essential purchase.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And don't forget to check back tomorrow for 30 to 21.