We're sure that most of you already know about this, but if you don't, it is the MMORPG from Blizzard set in the Warcraft universe. It broke records when it was released in North America and could well do the same when it is released in Europe in Mid February. If you plan on continuing with a normal life then it migt be advisable to give this game a miss. Our man who took part in the beta was last seen nailing his door shut while shouting some gibberish about Gnomes and Orcs.
Looking for all the world like John Woo has at last made the foray into videogames, F.E.A.R. promises to successfully blend heart-pounding Ring-style horror and edge-of-your-seat action. Trailers and screenshots alike all indicate that Monolith are set to deliver on this promise, showing some delightfully hectic shoot-'em-up action, along with some heavily Japanese horror-influenced ****-'em-up interludes. A summer release looks like a safe bet, so F.E.A.R. should hopefully remedy that traditional summer drought of decent games.
First-time developers Beautiful Game Studios have a big challenge ahead of them if they hope to eclipse Sports Interactive's Football Manager 2005, which basically took the brilliant Championship Manager formula (and development team), re-badged it, refined it, and ushered Championship Manager devotees over to this fresh series. Nothing of Championship Manager 5 has been shown off since the game's public unveiling, but it looks like the game will provide a less intensive and complex experience for the player, which could prove both a blessing and a curse for this much anticipated management sim. Kick-off is scheduled for March 18th.
Following Peter Molyneux's recent anti-hyperbole change of heart, hopes are high that this movie studio sim won't be just another addition to the ranks of the affectionately titled sub-genre, the Molyneux-'em-up. While Fable failed to deliver on its promises, it nevertheless provided a thoroughly entertaining experience, and The Movies looks set to prove just as enchanting. Putting you in control of a Hollywood development studio, you have to juggle the emotions of your stars, time constraints, and a whole host of other challenges, working towards bringing in the most money possible at the box office. As Peter himself put it, "Why the hell hasn't someone done something like this before?".
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
The sequel to one of the best Star Wars 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 Xbox version of the game suggest that they have nothing to worry about when the game hits retail stores.
Star Wars: Republic Commando
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 PC games of the year. PC gamers can expect a slightly sharper looking game than their Xbox owning friends.
Doom III - Resurection of Evil
This expansion pack for one of last year's biggest games is probably going to get the same mixed reaction, but enough people enjoyed Doom III to make this something we are interested to see more on. The inclusion of a new single player campaign, Half-Life 2 style gravity gun and some improved multi-player modes should be more than enough to please fans. Whether or not we can play without screaming like little girls remains to be seen.
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 4: Lock Down
Announced for the PC along with the Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions, PC Rainbow Six 4 will probably have a harder time obtaining fan acceptance than the console versions. PC owners are particularly vocal about sloppy ports from console games, and with a series that originated on the PC, this game could be like a lamb to the slaughter. However, nothing has been seen of the PC version, with its name alone making it one of our most anticipated games of the 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.
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.
PC owners will have waited more than six months before this hits their box (Size, shape and colour dependent on the owner), 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, but we expect something similar to the Xbox ports of the previous two games. PC owners are sure to benefit from higher resolutions, but anything is a mystery at the moment.
The sequel to one of the most successful online PC games is bound to have a lot of expectation. Multiple delays have put this back to the summer, but it looks no less exciting. Promotional videos have shown off some stunning visuals, an even greater sense of being in a war zone and a new replay mode which lets you view the action from the best possible viewpoints.
With little more to go on that 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.
To be honest, we don't really know too much about this, other than it is being developed by Raven and that it could be released late this year. Raven aren't known for the level designing skills, and this got the Quake community worried, but would id really give them such a massive franchise if they weren't up the task? It is going to be a long wait before we know for sure, but we can't wait to see how it turns out.
While we fear that Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion will be subject to the same pitfalls and faults as its predecessors, one simply can't fault Bethesda Softworks' ambition - a quality they have never really lacked, and are already showing in abundance with their stunning new engine, which promises a level of realism previously unheard of in the RPG genre. Advances are also being made in the field of AI, with the game sporting a so-called "Radiant AI" system, meaning NPCs will "think" for themselves, and will set out to satisfy their needs (for example, sleep, or food) in completely unscripted, independent events. If Bethesda can deliver on these impressive aspirations, The Elder Scrolls IV could prove to be one of the games of the year.
LucasArts has been on a bit of a roll recently, with a number of good quality games being release one after another. If they can pull off a classic RTS game in the Star Wars universe, a lot of people will be very happy. Being developed by Petroglyph, Star Wars: Empire at War is due for a release in autumn 2005 and is bound to be one of the most successful RTS games of the year, whether it is a critical success or not.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow Of Chernobyl
Originally set for release at the tail end of 2004, this first FPS from Ukrainian devco GSC sees you, a treasure-hunting Stalker, struggling for survival in a near-future 30km/sq area surrounding the nuclear reactor at the heart of 1986's Chernobyl disaster, fighting off the triple threat of the region's hideously mutated denizens, other similarly tough Stalkers, and the environment itself. After disappointing reports from playtests early last year, this once-again promising game has been delayed until an unspecified time. We predict a Q4 release, but it's largely a case of "the sooner, the better."