2009 is done and dusted, but there's an awful lot to look forward to in 2010. Over the next week we'll bring you our 50 most anticipated games of the year. It's fair to say that gamers appear to be in for quite a treat in 2010, should most of these titles make their expected release dates and deliver on their early promise. The year will bring everything from MMOs and single-player JRPGs to mature adventure games and visceral first-person shooters. Read on for games 10-1. Missed the earlier entries in our Top 50 countdown? You'll find 50-41 here, 40-31 here, 30-21 here and 20-11 here.
10. Split/Second - PS3, Xbox 360, PC, May
Forget about Deal or No Deal - here's a game show we'd really like to watch: A futuristic competition in which drivers race around enormous soundstages, triggering virtual hazards to knock their competitors off course. It's not coming to your TV set any time soon, sadly, but thanks to Black Rock Studios you'll able to play it for yourself, later this year. We've already tried it out a couple of times, and its shaping up rather well: it's fast, the graphics ooze style, and the PowerPlay attacks are highly satisfying. A racing game where you can cause a jet plane to come crashing down the track - right into the car behind you? Yes please!
9. Rage - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Rage has an awful lot going for it. For a start, it's the first new IP we've had from id Software in 10 years, and given that this is the company that brought us Doom and Quake, that's a pretty big reason to get excited. Then there are the insanely detailed graphics - they're slick enough to compare with the visuals in Killzone 2, but the game itself seems to be operating on a much larger, semi-open-world scale. And finally, there's the post-apocalyptic-style setting. Sure, we've had a few games do the Mad Max thing lately, but id is the kind of developer that does a great line in horrifying, puke-in-yer-gob mutants. Surely it won't be long before we get our first hands-on time with the game. Here's hoping.
8. Dead Space 2 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
With hindsight, EA's Dead Space had a pretty bland title. A survival horror about dead things, you say? In space? Whatever shall we call it? Still, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and an intergalactic ship full of mutants will make you wet your pants in terror even if it's called "The ISS Bunnykins". In any case, Dead Space looked great, had a wonderfully nasty dismemberment system, and featured loads of freaky mutants - our favourites being the baby-faced things that pulled you head off before inserting themselves down you open neck. We're sure that the sequel will be bigger, prettier, and even grislier. Fingers crossed.
7. Fable III - Xbox 360, Holiday
Fable II was a virtual paradise for gamers who like to mess around. Whether you were marrying everyone in sight, wrecking economies by randomly attacking shopkeepers, or simply soiling yourself in public, it was rarely anything less than an utter laugh riot. Naturally, it had other plus points too - notably a wide selection of highly original quests to undertake. Fable III should hopefully match these pleasures while adding a whole new layer of free-form mayhem. The premise this time is that you spend half the game overthrowing a despotic king, and then half the game wearing the crown yourself. Will you keep the promises that you made on your ascent to power? Or will you conveniently forget about them, in keeping with real-world politics? The choice will be yours. Peter Molyneux's games are usually packed with fresh ideas, and Fable III looks to be no exception.
6. Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Wii
In the eyes of many hardcore gamers, Mario Galaxy is the best title on the Wii - and by a considerable distance, too. With the possible exceptions of the new Zelda and Metroid games, SMG 2 is the release that all Nintendo fanboys are pining for. It's not hard to see why: Mario's first venture into space was one of the best games of the past ten years, a fruit cocktail of clever level design, snazzy physics, and that classic Nintendo charm. If Galaxy 2 turns out to be just more of the same we won't complain, but we're hoping that Shigeru Miyamoto has a few new tricks up his sleeve. He usually does, after all.
5. God of War 3 - PS3
Do you like beautiful but frenetic action games in which bald-headed psychopaths pull the heads off of various mythical creatures? You do? Well, then step right this way. In fact, you should probably step this way even if you don't, because there's no doubt that God of War 3 will be one of the definitive action experiences of 2010. The first two Gods set a new standard for epic third-person hack-and-slashers, and it's highly likely that SCE Santa Monica is going to raise the bar once again. In fact, Kratos will probably grab the bar and violently force it up your...
4. Heavy Rain - PS3, February
Heavy Rain is the game that's most likely to cause an argument between you and your chums this year. Are video games art? Are these the best graphics we've ever seen? Is this just a load of Quick Time Events? All these verbal punch-ups and many more will be visiting a living room near you, soon. Heavy Rain is a game unlike any other on this list - a dark and emotional tale of a broken father and the search for his missing son. David Cage and Quantic Dream have torn up the rule book, to the extent that the story will continue even if one of the four main characters die. Will it live up to the hype? We don't know, but our fingers are crossed so hard that they're turning white.
3. Halo Reach - Xbox 360, Autumn
Come on, you know this is going to be massive. Reach could turn out to be a 2D platformer where Sammy the Spartan goes on a magical quest to save the bunnykin kingdom from the evil King Covenant... and it would still sell billions. Thankfully, that's not the case. Reach is another FPS title, set years before the events of the original Halo. It doesn't feature Master Chief, but does feature Noble Team - a team of six Spartans, each of them harder than a very hard Sudoku puzzle that's been drawn on rice paper. Given that the game is set during a period when the alien Covenant are taking a giant space dump on the human race, expect a bleaker tone than the normal Halo shtick. Don't worry too much though - we're sure there will be plenty of opportunity for revenge.
2. Mass Effect 2 - Xbox 360, PC, January 29
As much as we hate to engage with the whole 360 vs PS3 debate, it's fairly clear that 2009 was the year Sony struck back, at least as far as platform exclusives are concerned. This year the battle will be tighter than ever, and Mass Effect 2 is one of Microsoft's heaviest hitters. Commander Shephard's first adventure was a colossal sci-fi outing, a wild success that introduced a new generation to the action RPG genre. This year's successor promises a much improved set of shooting mechanics, a grander scope and a much darker tone. If Mass 1 was A New Hope, Mass 2 will be The Empire Strikes Back. Expect great things.
1. Last Guardian - PS3
This is not, as you might erroneously imagine, a game about a man battling to grab the final copy of his favourite left wing newspaper. No, this is the latest project from Fumito Ueda - the Japanese creator of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. It would be a massive understatement to say that expectations are riding high on this one: people have been thrashing about in a collective hype-gasm ever since the first internal trailer leaked (you know, that one with the boy, the giant-griffin thing, and the music from Miller's Crossing). In any case, the fuss is pretty understandable. Ueda-san and his team made two of the best games in the history of video gaming, and this will be their first work on the PS3. Who doesn't want to see what they can do?