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 20-11. Missed the earlier entries in our Top 50 countdown? You'll find 50-41 here, 40-31 here and 30-21 here.
20. APB - PC
For the uninitiated, APB stands for "All Points Bulletin" - a US cop term for a report that gives details of a suspect wanted for questioning. APB the game is a massively multiplayer action game from Dave Jones - the man behind both Crackdown and the original Grand Theft Auto. It's cops vs robbers on an epic scale, and it sounds mouth-wateringly exciting. Rather than the traditional level grinding that accompanies so many massively online ventures, APB sounds like it's going to adopt a Modern Warfare-like system, wherein persistent play enhances your arsenal of weapons, rather than simply making you physically harder to kill. Up to 100 gamers can take part in the gang warfare at a time, and since you'll be playing in the comfort of your own home, you won't have to worry about being caught on CCTV as you carve up your mates. Nice one!
19. Brink - Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Autumn
Another day, another FPS title set in a dystopian future - but this one has some seriously neat ideas at play. Brink is a team-based shooter that promises to seamlessly blend single and multiplayer gaming into one dynamic experience. Imagine a class-based game where you're playing with chums, but where each of you is getting your own narrative experience. Your mission objectives will dynamically change in response to the ebb and flow of a given match, and on top of that there's a snazzy-looking Mirror's Edge-like system that lets you slide around the maps like a buttered eel who does parkour. The development team at Splash Damage has a serious collective pedigree, too.
18. Bayonetta - Xbox 360, PS3, January 8
From the moment we first saw Bayonetta, we knew that we she was going to be a star. She resembles the world's sexiest librarian, she has guns attached to both her arms and feet, and she has the ability to kill people using her hair. To be more precise, Bay-O can transform her barnet into things - a guillotine, a massive fist, or even a giant stiletto. So yes, Bayonetta is a little bit bonkers, but underneath the madness lies one of the best action games you'll play all year. And since it'll be hitting shop shelves within the next few days, your wait is almost over.
17. Splinter Cell Conviction - Xbox 360, PC, February 26
Think about all the things we've seen Sam Fisher do over the years - all the stealth kills, gadget-based wizardry, and fearsome gunplay. Now imagine what he might do when he's really pissed off. You see, Sam's daughter is dead - and he's about to hulk-out, big time. Conviction finds Fisher hunting down the sods who snuffed his little girl, while simultaneously searching for a set of stolen Russian EMP devices. Not only that, but the game also has a set of tailor made co-op missions, allowing you to buddy up as you creep about and murderize the bad guys. Remember kids, it's all for a good cause!
16. Alan Wake - Xbox 360, Spring/Summer
Are you afraid of the dark? You ought to be, because there's something really nasty out there. When a game finds a way to make everything around you a potential threat, even inanimate objects, you know it's doing something right. Alan Wake has been a long time coming, but there's been plenty of potential in the (admittedly brief) snippets of gameplay that we've seen so far. We've seen the "light vs dark" thing in video games before, but there's something rather enticing about a survival horror where a torch is more powerful than a shotgun. At any rate, this is certainly one of the 360 exclusives to keep an eye on in 2010.
15. Max Payne 3 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC, August-October
As John McClane taught us in Die Hard 4.0, losing your hair doesn't necessarily equate to losing your ability to kick ass. As much as we lament the departure of Max's brown barnet - and indeed his stylish leather jacket - there's no denying that Mr Payne looks pretty dangerous as a bald nutter in a dirty vest. The bigger concern for long-term fans will be the absence of franchise creator Sam Lake, who is now handling Alan Wake with the rest of the Remedy posse. Still, with Rockstar Vancouver in charge of the project, you can be reasonably sure that MP3 will be worth a play.
14. StarCraft II - PC
"It'll be ready when it's ready." Blizzard's long-standing mantra, however frustrating, ensures the famed US developer always delivers quality titles. And we're absolutely sure StarCraft II will deliver quality in spades. Now, we don't actually know that StarCraft II will be out this year, but surely it will be. It's been in development, for what, a decade? StarCraft came out in 1998! So, yes, we anticipate the release of Wings of Liberty, the first of three StarCraft II instalments in development, sometime this year. We've played it, and it kicks arse. It's very StarCraft, but that, in many ways, is exactly what's needed. Innovation? Pah. Who needs innovation when you've got Zerg tearing hapless Terran marines to shreds? That's right. No one.
13. Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360, PS3, April 27
It's the makers of GTA doing a cowboy game - who doesn't want to play that? The first Red Dead was a fairly linear and restricted shooter, but this time we'll be getting the full works: three massive Wild West playgrounds to gallop across; wild horses that can be lassoed and tamed; hand-drawn treasure maps that send you voyaging across the plains in search of hidden gold. You can sit down to a game of poker in the local saloon, lose all your cash, and then blow away your opponents to get your money back. The plot looks gritty as anything, too: apparently Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch was a big inspiration.
12. Batman 2 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Batman: Arkham Asylum was the game that finally let us really 'be' The Dark Knight - a slice of praise so often repeated by critics that it may as well be an unofficial subtitle. In short, it was damn good - allowing bat-fans to fight off a rogues gallery of famous villains in a classic DC Comics location. From the looks of the first teaser trailer, it seems that the sequel will venture beyond Arkham's walls and be set in Gotham City. The popular speculation is that the new game will be based upon the No Man's Land plot arc, in which Gotham is left isolated from the rest of the USA, following a devastating earthquake. If that's true, then Rocksteady should have plenty of dark source material to work with.
11. Final Fantasy XIII - Xbox 360, PS3, March 9
There rests much on Final Fantasy XIII's broad shoulders. So much expectation, so much anticipation, so much... desperation. Let's be honest, the Japanese role-playing genre has been in steady decline for a number of years now. It feels stagnant, stuck in its ways, even... tired. Final Fantasy XIII, we expect, we anticipate, we... hope, will lead the once proud genre in a global march to reclaim its throne. Fussing over the "Console War" misses the point. Whether it's on PS3 or Xbox 360, we so badly want FFXIII to be all it can be, to show Infinite Undiscovery and Last Remnant and Star Ocean and all the average muck that's come out in its absence, that the king is back.