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New releases for ’09 bode well for gamers

The holiday gaming season is over.

Game publishers unveiled their best efforts over the past few months, trying to find a niche in the holiday gaming market.

Because every publisher who has a decent game tried to rush it out before Christmas, January is usually a dumping point for games. Hollywood and the music industry also largely ignore the first month of the year.

So gamers have plenty of time to work through their Christmas presents while anticipation builds for the first big releases of the new year. The release schedule for 2009 looks promising as the developers and publishers push the limits of the next generation gaming consoles. They’ve now had about four years working with the new console technology, and we should all see the games that squeeze out every inch of untapped power out of the systems, particularly with the PlayStation 3.

The first notable release of 2009, “Killzone 2” looks to have accomplished that with the PS3.

A sequel to 2004’s PS2 release, “Killzone 2” is set for release on Feb. 27. After seeing a playable level, the BBC News reported the game will be “one of the most cinematic and immersive games ever produced on a console.” And that was said in August 2007. With another year and a half of development, “Killzone 2” could be the game — along with the fall release “God of War III” — that helps the PS3 get back on track after slumping sales have plunged it further behind the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360.

But as hyped as “Killzone 2” has been, it won’t be the biggest release of the first quarter of 2009.

“Resident Evil 5” — a sequel to one of the acclaimed games of all time — comes out shortly after on March 13. From the game’s trailer debut at last year’s E3 Conference, “Resident Evil 5” has generated significant buzz.

A game prequel — “Watchmen: The End Is Nigh” — to the anticipated “Watchmen” movie is also scheduled for release in March. Also coming out in March, the Wii’s very adult “MadWorld,” the retro “WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania,” the real-time strategy “Halo Wars” and “The Godfather II.”

The “Guitar Hero” series has its most metal expansion pack in “Guitar Hero: Metallica” coming out in the first quarter of 2009.

“Ghostbusters: The Video Game” is one of the most promising releases of the summer. All four original Ghostbusters have signed on to lend their voices to the game and Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the storyline.

Like most years, some of the biggest games won’t come out until after the summer.

The fall/winter release schedule is littered with several big-name sequels: “Uncharted 2,” “Mafia II,” “Halo 3: ODST,” “God of War III,” “Gran Turismo 5,” and Harmonix’s game based around the Beatles.

A number of other notable games will surely debut in 2009, but the early release schedule is already extremely promising.

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