The new year is barely a week old, and one major game, SEGA’s “Bayonetta,” has already been released.
The release foreshadows an odd beginning to the gaming year. Perhaps more than any other year in recent memory, 2010 is front loaded with a number of high-profile releases that would be saved for the holiday season in almost any other year.
Many of these highly regarded games were originally scheduled for release during the 2009 holiday season. For one reason or another, some of the biggest games were moved to the first quarter of 2010. While each of the first four months of 2010 has high-profile releases scheduled, there are a few games that stand above the rest.
Though “Bayonetta,” “Army of Two: The 40th Day” and Sony’s “MAG” — which stands for massive action game and boasts 256-player online gameplay — are all coming out this month, no game deserves more attention than “Mass Effect 2,” available for the Xbox 360 on Jan. 26.
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The sequel to one of the best-reviewed games of the past decade, “Mass Effect 2” has big shoes to fill. The original executed the action role-playing game to near-perfection. The only thing that could derail the sequel is the loaded release calendar, but gamers faithful to the genre will have nowhere else to go until March’s release of “Final Fantasy XIII.”
The game I’m most looking forward to, “BioShock 2,” comes out Feb. 9. “BioShock” was the best game of 2007, and it was one of the first great Xbox 360 exclusives at the time of its release.
The sequel will battle with EA’s “Dante’s Inferno” in early February. “Dante’s Inferno” plays like “God of War” set in the first book of Dante Alighieri’s poem “The Divine Comedy.”
Despite the source material, “Dante’s Inferno” is one of the biggest original games to come out in early 2010. It will have to shake its comparisons to “God of War” to be successful, which will be tough with “God of War III” coming out in March. It will be the first of the series to debut on the PlayStation 3.
Sony is hoping 2010 is finally the breakthrough year for the PS3, and it doesn’t hurt that the company has “MAG” and “God of War III” coming out early this year. “Gran Turismo 5” is also expected to come out this year, and it should be an even bigger seller than its predecessors now that it has acquired the NASCAR license.
While 2010 will bring us plenty of sequels — both the aforementioned along with sequels to “Battlefield: Bad Company,” “Just Cause,” “Splinter Cell,” “Lost Planet” and “Dead Rising” — one of the most intriguing is the follow-up to “Red Dead Revolver.”
Rockstar Games, the folks behind “Grand Theft Auto,” released the western action game in 2004 to mixed reactions. I thought the game was solid, but the sequel, “Red Dead Redemption,” looks very strong and could be a sleeper hit right in April, at the end of a string of big releases.
It’s too early to tell what big games could find releases late in 2010, but the early part of the year is already shaping up to be better than 2009.