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Thunderbolt’s Most Wanted of 2008

most wanted

No matter what genre or what console you favour, 2007 was a sterling year for gamers. We’ve seen an utterly wonderful line-up of games, led by the likes of Super Mario Galaxy, God of War II, The Orange Box and, of course, our eventual Game of the Year 2007, Halo 3.

One could be forgiven for feeling rather blue in the wake of such a strong twelve months, but against all the odds 2008 is looking almost as good for the industry as last year. After weeks of debate and discussion in our dark and slightly damp Thunderbolt cave, we have managed to compile a discussion of our Most Wanted Games of 2008:

Terence Gage: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – while this series has had its ups and downs (don’t even mention Sons of Liberty…), when MGS gets things right it’s one of the finest videogames available. While it doesn’t necessarily look as progressive or advanced as a lot of games available, I have faith in Kojima and his production team, and this might just be the game to propel the PS3 into the stratosphere.

Far Cry 2 – I’m tentatively anticipating this title; whilst I didn’t warm to any of the Far Cry console iterations, videos for this have looked very impressive so far, and Ubisoft Montreal have made lots of lofty promises which I hope they fulfil (like genuine dynamic weather and proper destructible environments). Could and should be one of the biggest FPS of next year, if it all comes together, and may even usurp Crysis as the most technologically advanced game available.

Operation Flashpoint 2 – if there’s one FPS which could take the wind out of Far Cry 2‘s sails, Operation Flashpoint 2 is it (it’s just a shame about the crappy subtitle, Dragon Rising). The first game was advanced beyond its years, and using Codemasters’ gorgeous Neon engine I hope this lives up to the original’s lofty heights.

Killzone 2 – whilst I (like many) thought the first game was rather lacklustre, I’m expecting much better things from this sequel. Having allegedly invested more than 40 million euros in its development, Sony must realise that this simply must be a huge success. I really loved the designs and ideas explored in the original, and hopefully a bigger team, a much larger budget and more experience will allow Guerrilla the opportunity to realise their vision of what could be one of the PS3’s most important titles.

LittleBigPlanet – another PS3 exclusive, and in different ways just as vital as Killzone 2 or MGS4, I think the most important element of LittleBigPlanet will be the level creation program and its integration with PSN and Home. The numerous delays it has already suffered are a little disappointing – if understandable – but I hope it sees a release this year and I hope it lives up to the immense potential.

Infamous – superpowers-in-a-sandbox-city games are the new black, and I’m quietly hoping this will turn out to be one of the best. I’m a big fan of the Sly Raccoon games, and hopefully developer Sucker Punch will come good with this altogether darker and more adult fable.

There are a bunch of other games I’m looking forward to this year, like Dark Messiah: Might & Magic Elements, Just Cause 2 (I didn’t really enjoy the first game but I’m still looking forward to this), Prototype, Battlefield: Bad Company and Devil May Cry 4. I’m hoping for great things from Resident Evil 5, but I haven’t included it because I don’t honestly think it’ll be out this year.

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Andrew Murray: Fable 2 – Although Peter Molyneux is a fan of a little bit of hyperbole, Fable 2 looks amazing, he’s got some really innovative ideas for the game, which hopefully he’ll deliver. My most wanted of next year.

Fallout 3 – Post-apocalyptic RPG which is heading to PS3 and 360. Looks graphically gorgeous with a nice touch of dark humour.

Bart Robson: Splinter Cell: Conviction – It’s a bold move to pull Sam Fisher out of the shadows, but the next Splinter Cell game is doing just that. It’s nice to see a franchise evolving, and this Bourne-esque title looks excellent.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – Here’s hoping that this gorgeous Star Wars game plays as good as it looks. With a new physics engine and dark twist on the Star Wars mythos, it certainly looks interesting.

Super Smash Brothers BRAWL! – The classic fighting series returns on the Wii, with better graphics and more characters. Here’s hoping that the robust online play and detailed visuals will inspire future Wii releases.

Terence: Christ, I totally forgot to mention Grand Theft Auto IV. I know a lot of people are cynical about this game, but I think the previous GTA games from Rockstar North have been getting better with each instalment (in gameplay terms; I disliked the ‘gangsta’ vibe of San Andreas), and I have confidence that they’ll deliver, yet again.

Ben Philpott: Devil May Cry 4 – Massive fan of the first and third game, judging from the trailers I can tell this is going to be awesome fun

Metal Gear Solid 4 – Because MGS is the best series ever (!).

Many others but haven’t the time to post them right now.

Also hoping for a Shenmue 3 announcement but I’m not going to hold my breath.

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James Frazer: I’m enjoying COD4, both on and offline too much to worry about upcoming games.

Also my car insurance is due in the next few days so I won’t be buying anything new until the next pay day…

Phillip Morton: Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway – I did a preview ages ago, so just check that out.

Oh, and GTA IV of course

Stuart Edwards: Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 – After tainting their once perfect series with lack of new ideas and probably the worst online mode I’ve experienced on Xbox Live, I’m looking forward to seeing what Konami’s response is. Even ‘Seabass’ said he was disappointed with it, which begs the question….why release it?!*

* We’d just like to elaborate that the concept of revenue was later explained to Stuart

Matt Wadleigh: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2 – Considering that the first game revolutionized the Rainbow Six series, which was nearing stagnation, it’ll be incredibly interesting to see how the developers at Ubisoft follow up Rainbow Six Vegas in this second act. Most of the game will probably play exactly the same as the original, Vegas 2 promises better graphics, refined gameplay mechanics and, presumably, more helicopters. I know Phil and I are both anticipating the release of this game and it’ll certainly get me onto Xbox Live.

Kelvin Tay: 1. Devil May Cry 4 – yup
2. Tekken 6 – Lee is now officially a pimp
3. Soul Calibur IV – OMG, Star Wars?!?!?!?!
4. Metal Gear Solid 4 – hype can only last for so long…
5. Castlevania… – Castlevania…

Terence: I’m not sure what to make of that announcement. While I’m an unashamed huge Star Wars geek (yes, I have a Vader flannel, and yes, I have kept it sealed to preserve its condition and value…), I can’t help think this Soul Calibur/Star Wars combination just seems a little… odd. Whilst Vader is an awesome character and the daddy of all anti-heroes, pitting this technologically advanced cyborg against the likes of Taki or Mitsurugi just doesn’t sit well with me.

I think the less said about Yoda, the better. What’s his taunt gonna be; “Stay back you will, or cut your knees I will be forced to”?! I’d love to see Nightmare squash ‘im.

/End rant.

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Nick Akerman: Street Fighter IV – If this makes it before the end of the year, then it will become my most wanted game. It is going to be interesting to see how it is going to look, feel and even be received by the fans. A must for all gamers.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 – My favourite series hasn’t progressed at all over the last three years, taking a rather steady jump from last gen to next. Hopefully this year they will get it completely right, and the game will return to its championship winning formula.

Terence (again…): I forgot to mention Tomb Raider: Underworld, as well, which I am looking forward to, although I have a few reservations also.

The thing is, I think a big part of the reason why people lost interest in the original Tomb Raider games was because Core and Eidos released one a year of [arguably] decreasing quality for five years running (and not to forget, they screwed it all up with the awful, awful The Angel of Darkness…). Although I loved Anniversary, this will be new developer Crystal Dynamics’ third game in three years and I’m afraid public apathy will begin to creep back in soon.

I hope this is not the case, and SCidos and Crystal D understand the series is at its best when you have to navigate huge, taxing caverns, valleys and (unsurprisingly) tombs. I want this game to be good, and I really hope the series is not on a road to self-destruction. Again.

James: Tomb Raider was stripped bare and beaten again and again for more and more cash.

I still don’t like it – Legend feels like an on-the-rails shooter than the roaming, exploring puzzle-solving Lara of old, and I don’t understand the amount of love for it.

Justin Boot: Hmmm, off the top of my head:

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – The Advance Wars series has always held a special place in my game-obsessed heart. I normally despise tactics games, but the quirky characters and light-hearted storytelling won me over. Advance Wars: Dual Strike remains one of the best games on the DS, and I hope that this new game continues with the same level of quality.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl – Oh come on. Like I really need to explain this? Most of Nintendo’s finest are back and looking better than ever. Looking over all the previews over the past few months, it’s clear that the folks in charge have pulled out all the stops and created a game that outdoes everything else on the Wii. With tons of new characters stages, gameplay modes, online multiplayer, and countless nostalgia-ridden references to past Nintendo titles, this might very well be the best reason to buy a Wii.

Metal Gear Solid 4 – Snake is back and he’s looking better (and older) than ever before. The game looks beautiful and, judging from experiences from Sons of Liberty and Snake Eater, it’ll be one of the most memorable games on its respective consoles. With plenty of amazing visuals and new gameplay mechanics, the ending of the Metal Gear Solid series cannot be missed.

Mark Johnson: Afrika – There’s so little known about this game. It looks stunning and seems to be some sort of photography game, where you have to find animals in their natural habitat, and try not to scare them away. I’m tempted to reserve the game to review, but there’s no release date, however I’ve heard anything from March to November.

MotorStorm 2 – Hopefully build on the original, maybe even change the location. Has all the requirements to be 10/10. It might even get here before Christmas.

Nick Akerman: Silent Hill V – Although original developers Team Silent have passed on the reigns, I am quietly excited about this one. If The Collective manage to keep to one of the most successful formulas in console history, they have a huge chance of making this game another hit amongst survival horror fans. With Resident Evil 5 hopefully on the cards as well by the end of 2008, it is shaping up to be one hell of a prospect for the iron nerved gamer.

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Mark: “LittleBigPlanet. Everything about it looks fantastic. I think it will be 2008’s game of the year, if not this generation’s.”

Phil: It looks pretty cool, but game of the generation?!?

Mark: “Smackdown Vs Raw 2009: You don’t need to be a fan of the ‘sport’ to enjoy these games. With the superb create a wrestlers, a wide choice of wrestlers, match types and weapons, this instalment is set to be the best yet.

Football Manager 2009 The daddy of football manager sims. Set to be a sure fire success with the latest team selection and the usual smattering of new features. Bang goes my social life again.”

Phil: The current versions of both of these games showed that their publishers now take their revenue for granted and can’t really be bothered to make a great deal of effort. I’ve read that Smackdown was particularly disappointing and as for FM, I didn’t go near it because of the ‘improved’ GUI.

James: What is this LittleBigPlanet all about? GameFAQs is typically talking about everything except what it’s about.

Mark: I think LBP has all the makings of game of the generation. There’s nothing else on the horizon that has shown this much innovation. GTA, MGS, GT will all be stunning games but they won’t have the impact of LBP. Its quirky, everyone will want to play it, and with the multiplayer aspect with its level creation. I really think it will be huge. Having said that it will probably get slated by everybody once released.

I think THQ will want to come back big with Smackdown, I’ve bought all the Smackdown games since the original, but admittedly left this years as it didn’t seem to improve anything major. If they have some new match types, or change the way the games plays it could be good.

FM, as I said it’s the best football managing game, and will take up a serious amount of hours, I tend to buy these alternate years (this time hopefully Nottingham Forest will be in the Championship).

LittleBigPlanet is a platformer where you have to get from A to B interacting with the environment. You can customise the level as well as the characters. Check out the videos, they make me want to play it now. Shame it has been delayed ’til September.

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James: PS3-only I’m guessing?

Mark: Yes, it’s supposed to be a PSN download and a Disc to buy at retailers – like Warhawk did.

Nick: “With Resident Evil 5 hopefully on the cards as well by the end of 2008″

Terence: Resident Evil 5 won’t be out this year. If I’m wrong you can decide a [mildly humiliating] punishment for me. And you can hold me to that…

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2007.

Gentle persuasion

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