While there are still a lot of games that haven't been announced yet, with the new year, it's worth taking a look at some of the games that are going to be ringing in the cash when the ball drops for 2009. 2008 was a stellar, record-setting year in the videogame industry, and 2008 should top those records (assuming Wii demand continues). There are certainly plenty of killer apps coming out on the software side.
Grand Theft Auto IV--Rockstar Games delayed the first next gen iteration of its best-selling franchise to this year, which means record sales are guaranteed (even more PS3s and Xbox 360s will be in homes by then). This Mature-rated franchise, like Halo, needs only to ship to attract its legions of fans. Seeing what next gen adds to the virtual New York City setting will definitely be worth the extra wait, especially with no load screens and exclusive downloadable missions on 360.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl--With online gameplay and a huge cast of characters including Mario, Link, Solid Snake, Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong, this is a must-have family fighter for anyone who owns a Wii. Motion-sensor controls ensure a good workout while playfully pummeling opponents.
Gran Turismo 5: Prologue--I played this at SEMA in Vegas not long ago and the HD gameplay looks photo-realistic. With each car handling like the real thing and online additions promised from Polyphany Digital (including car damage), this is shaping up to be the ultimate driving experience.
Tom Clancy's EndWar--I was able to check out this voice-controlled game at E3 last year behind closed doors and it's amazing. This Xbox 360 real-time strategy game can be played by voice commands or with the controller. Either way, the brilliant visuals (courtesy of Epic's Unreal Engine 3) bring you into the combat like never before.
Ghostbusters--While a third movie likely will never happen, gamers will get plenty of new comedy from two new Ghostbusters games from Vivendi Games. All of the original cast members have agreed to work on this project, which takes place after the events in the second film. One game will be aimed for kids and the PS2/Wii crowd, while the other game will be aimed at fans who saw the original in theaters. Either way, this is going to be a fun ride.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed--LucasArts is bringing a new Star Wars story to next gen consoles with this game. From tech demos I've seen, The Force in this game is unlike anything ever experienced in a videogame before. Add in the lush visuals and patented solid gameplay and you have the makings of another hit for George Lucas' company.
Indiana Jones--Harrison Ford dons the whip again on the big screen this summer, but gamers will be able to see him virtually, as well. This game, which was in development before the plot of the new movie was finalized, will feature an original adventure with a younger Indiana Jones. So it will be a two-for for fans who's waited so long for more fedora action. I've played some of this game at past E3s and the San Francisco cable car ride with enemies fighting atop speeding trains was extremely inventive.
Borderlands--Codemasters is bringing a new sci-fi action adventure to next gen consoles with this title. Featuring the Unreal Engine 3 technology, one of the standouts of this game is an infinite number of weapons, which should keep the shooting fresh. I saw the demo of this game at developer Gearbox Studios and its amazing. This game could be this year's Mass Effect.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction--Everything has changed for Sam Fisher in this new open world game. Gone are the dark, stealth-based levels. The super spy has gone rogue and must hide in plain sight amongst hundreds of interactive crowds. I was able to play this game last year and it's unlike any previous Splinter Cell game, which is just what this franchise needs to remain fresh.
Devil May Cry 4--The third game in this franchise was so difficult Capcom actually came out with a second version of it for U.S. audiences. I've played the new next gen game and that won't be a problem this time around. The gameplay is intuitive and the action is patented fun. Next gen really brings the monsters to life in this sword-swinging, gun toting sequel.
Infamous--After a horrible second season of "Heroes," super hero fans will be able to create their own hero or villain in this gritty PS3 game from Sucker Punch Studios. The concept has already worked within the massively multi-player online space with NcSoft's City of Heroes, but this console take is unique and looks more akin to the Batman Begins reboot in tone.
Resident Evil 5--Haiti's a scary place on its own, but this game places Chris Redfield in the middle of a zombie-plagued nation. Resident Evil 4 was the best in the franchise, so the bar's been raised, but Capcom has plenty of ammo and weapons to bring this next gen title up to its own standards of excellence.
Burnout Paradise--When it comes to adrenaline rushes, the Burnout franchise holds the patent in racing. This completely open, online take on the franchise allows 12 drivers to race through crowded city streets. There are no load screens or menus in this game. All the racing action is organic, allowing for pure online fun. Tons of new and old modes are included, so metal will be crushed as high impact crashes are still the most thrilling aspect of this franchise. I played the final version at the VGAs last month and this is a must-have.
Prototype--Any game that's been on the cover of Game Informer is worth checking out. Prototype puts players in charge of a being with superhuman powers and allows for total destruction of New York City--you can even eat its inhabitants. The ability to shapeshift and toss city buses opens up plenty of action opportunities. I'm intrigued.
Mario Kart Wii--Mario and friends racing through colorful tracks on the Wii. Need I say more? How about 12 players online and motion-sensor controls. This is exactly the type of game that the millions of families who own Wii will be buying. Look for it to become one of the best-selling games for the console.
Halo Wars--The Halo trilogy may be over, but the real-time strategy game is just beginning. From the developer of Age of Empires comes this RTS game set in the Halo universe. I saw this at E3 last year and although I'm not an RTS gamer, personally, this one will get some of my time. The visuals are amazing and the possibilities of employing all of those cool vehicles in combat is intriguing. Look for a whole new wave of RTS fans to emerge courtesy of this title.
Dead Space--In space, no one can hear you scream. Although Sega and Gearbox Studios are working on an Alien reboot for 2009, sci-fi horror fans will get an early present courtesy of Electronic Arts. Set in a haunted mining ship, this shooter offers aliens and ghosts to contend with.
Fallout 3--Bethesda Softworks created the brilliant role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Now they're tackling the post apocalyptic world of Fallout with this third outing. PC and next gen gamers will be able to create a character and roam this destroyed world, while contending with its inhabitants. This franchise gets a new developer and its first next gen outing, which could make it this year's Mass Effect or Oblivion (if you want to go back to 2006's top RPG).
Killzone 2--One of the most impressive games at E3 last year was Guerilla Games' shooter sequel. After a solid PSP game last year, Sony's bringing this futuristic war game to its PS3. This is the kind of killer app Sony needs for its system. After watching a good 20 minutes of gameplay in a quiet theater behind a sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, I'm sold on this game. I can't wait to get my hands on it.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots--Come June, more gamers will be buying a PS3 just to play Konami's long-awaited final Metal Gear game. An old Solid Snake returns to duty in this swan song. I saw this game at E3 and it's visuals are amazing. I haven't played it yet, but given the past game's gameplay, the extra development time can only mean an even better experience.